5.5 Wherever You Go, There You Are


On a long stopover in the Moscow airport, I've had time to think about why I'm always thinking about being somewhere else. Maybe it's my tendency for solitude? In another country, I have an excuse to just be quiet and introverted. Languages have never been my strong suit, so I actually put little effort into learning the dialects of the places I've visited. Sure, I've had ambitious to learn Russian or Mandarin, but I have no ear for it. Although this might sound disrespectful, I actually think it's the opposite - I don't try and butcher the language of the place I've visiting, I'm fine with exaggerated arm gestures and lots of pointing. What I'm actually mulling about here in the small Moscow airport is the old saying, Wherever you go, there you are. The idea that travel is a way to run away from your problems, but in the end, there is no getting away from yourself. You gotta deal with you at some point. I don't know how I feel about this cause if it's true, then I've done a lot of running away from problems and from myself.

Maybe it's all context? Travel has existed for me as a way to sort through problems, so in a way, I'm running away to actually confront what is going on internally.

I went to Europe right after finishing university to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. Went to New Zealand when I turned thirty. Europe again when I left a comfy corporate job. China to get lost a bit, which I certainly did. Cuba after getting dumped.

These trips and others served as transitional periods where things just got too tight. Points in my life where I just needed a break, recalibrate, look at what the hell was going on and make some decisions. All I know is that it generally worked.

The other thing I'm wondering here at the airport is whether there are some people that just need to keep moving, see other places with our own eyes. I remember reading about a certain kind of shark that couldn't stop moving or else it would die. Dramatic to compare myself to a shark as I am neither aggressive nor can breathe underwater, but there you go.

The first real trip I took was as a teenager. My dad travelled often for business and he brought me along to England and Germany for a few weeks. England was nice, if a little cloudy, but it was Germany that really got me. We went up in the mountains an hour outside of Munich to a small village named Oberstdorf.

One day, we took a cable car up the mountain. At the top, my dad told me to have a look and he'd get back in line to go back down as it was busy. Walked around the side of the mountain to the edge overlooking a cliff. All of a sudden, the sky filled with fog and the valley below disappeared. Couldn't see in front of me but for a few feet. I remember the silence, there was no sound. The only sound was small rocks falling to the ground, smashing on other rocks below. It was comforting somehow.

My father came running. Worried cause he said I had been gone for an hour. Felt like five minutes. Lost in the comforting fog. I didn't plan it this way, but ten years later, I returned to that mountain and the same exact thing happened. Went to the top, a fog rolled in, the silence. These two trips would solidify my desire to find mountains in New Zealand, China and other parts of Europe.

Sure, wherever you go, there you are, but what's wrong with that? There is comfort in knowing that you can travel to other places in the world and still be yourself, be around other people who speak different languages, comforting to know that you can exist in many forms but remain true to what's inside.