Wherever I go...
Updated: May 25, 2021
I've always been rather fond of that old saying, "wherever you go, there you are." When I was younger, it made me feel like I would never be lost, and as if the only thing I truly needed to create an adventure was myself. As the years have passed and my understanding has moved beyond the physical and deeper into the metaphysical, this axiom has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.
First, these words remind me that running away is never effective. A new city, lover, dress, or job won't fix whatever is ailing, because wherever I might go, I'll find myself there. The very same self that was once here. Where things felt all wrong. A change of scenery is just that--a new stage on which to act out the same drama. A new backdrop won't change the script.
The answer to what ails is inside, because the affliction lies there. Twice the reason that skipping town, literally or figuratively, won't do the trick. The problem isn't out there, so a change in what's outside won't solve it. The problem is in here, in ME. And wherever I go, it comes along.
As I practiced running away in my past, I used to believe my struggles were chasing me; now I understand that's not quite right. What I might want to run from isn't tailing me, following my trail like a bloodhound, to arrive shortly behind me in any new destination. It's more accurate to imagine the hardship is hitchhiking in the most permanent of fashions, a passenger who can't be dropped off at the next stop, given a solo bus pass, or distracted by a theater ticket so I can slip out the side door.
No, wherever I go, there I am.
So I don't run away anymore, in big or small ways. I don't swap towns or houses, mates or friends, clothing or hair styles (at least not to run from problems). Now this phrase reminds me to stay put, to get curious and look inside. Whatever I'm seeing outside of me that seems amiss, it's just a reflection of that within. Whatever I don't like out there is coming from in here. I might as well save the travel, shopping, and other pleasant distractions for just that--pleasure. Everything I need to get out of the mess, regardless of the particulars of said disaster, is where I am now. No sense in getting dressed up or dropping a handful of Benjamins on a plane ticket or a VRBO. I don't need to pack a bag...I need to unpack one.
Recently, through meditation, I've discovered an even more profound understanding of how these words could be true. I'm beginning to understand that this concept goes beyond realizing that, no matter which map dot I choose, I'll find myself there. The roots of this concept run deeper than the other cliché travel adage: it's not the destination, but the journey. In the past week I've come to understand that I, myself, am both the journey and the destination. Beyond that, I'm not just the body that travels the map, the matter that moves from dot to dot; I AM the map.
I've spent my whole life seeking direction, wondering which route to take, obsessing over the details of each choice, fearing what I'd find down this road and what I'd miss down that one. There has been great struggle in this search, a feeling of being out of control of the outcome of my travels. Understanding that I'll find myself wherever I may roam has only reduced the frantic nature off of this grappling. A great feeling of unrest has remained, always a sense of insufficiency, a feeling that I'm not capable of plotting a course as grand as a lifetime.
There seemed to be so many roads, endless stops along each route, and so many obstacles to be overcome--mountains to climb, valleys to traverse, great expanses of water that must be crossed. And the more I looked for the "right" route, the more lost I felt. The more I tried to study the map, to plot the best course, to navigate with grace and ease, the more disconnected and adrift I felt.
The experience was a bit like trying to read something without cheaters, holding it as far away from myself as I could, and finding that I needed longer arms. No matter how far back I pulled, everything still looked fuzzy. There were still so many choices, and no indication of which ones were best. There was never any comfort in this exercise, never any answers to repay the diligence with which I sought.
As I meditated on this feeling, this constant attempt to read the map, this endless compulsion to seek direction, the way that resolution always evaded me, no matter how far out I pulled my vision, I was suddenly offered the reason. I AM the map. I'm not reading the map. I'm not even traveling over the map, like a car drives on top of roads. I. Am. The. Map.
The disconnect I feel, that sensation of trying to create clarity with distance and failing utterly, finding only fuzzy outlines and blurry boundaries, comes from pulling away from something that is actually me. I felt like I needed to get farther away, so I could see the bigger picture--more routes, more options, more data points. These would surely help me plan my journey, help me navigate this world and the life I'm living in it. But what I was really doing was pulling away from self, moving away from my center and trying to illuminate with objectivity what can only be navigated by soulshine. I didn't need to be farther away to see more clearly, I needed to be right where I am.
I don't need to read the map. I need to be the map.
I am the map. I'm not in the map, or of the map. I. Am. The map! Every road, from the fast-lane highways to the one-lane dirt tracks, is me. I'm every stop along these roads, and every obstacle they go over, under, around, or through. I am the high mountain passes that steal your breath away, the scorching deserts where the heat dries out your very bones, the cool shade of the forests, and the vast expanses of oceans. I am every route, every destination, every possibility. There is no best route, no perfect plan, no miracle road trip that's going to take me anywhere at all.
There's just me, and the endless possibilities I contain. I can choose any route, because they are all within me. And they all lead to the same place...me. One might lead to a me who lives in an apartment and rides the subway, another to an identical woman in a tiny house who rides a motorcycle, and yet another to a self with a piece of mountaintop land who rides a horse. But they all lead home, and they all lead on, forever. There is no destination, there is only journey. And wherever I might go, there's where I'll be found. And however I get there, that's the road I am to take.
The roads to travel are all here, inside of me. The route is fluid; there are no wrong turns. And the obstacles I face, the switchbacks and tight turns, the rough roadway or construction delays? Those are me, too. The markings and the key, the compass and the GPS, the scenery and the sidetracks...all me.
I don't need to see the map. I am the map. I don't need an itinerary; I am the itinerary. I just need to keep traveling, wherever I feel called to go. Not because I can find anything magical there, but because I bring my magic with me. Wherever I go, there it is. I don't need to seek a destination to find my mojo, it's wherever I am now. And I've been missing that magic looking for a destination that, ironically, is already here, within me.
I need to keep looking around, but not at the map dots miles in the distance. My focus is needed where I am right this instant; I need to be looking at what lies on all sides of me HERE. Less pondering how to get where I want to go. More asking what is here, in this place, for me to pick up and carry forward? Where in this landscape am I to lay down what I no longer need?
That is how the way forward will be revealed. Not by pulling away from myself, looking for the big picture, the long road, but by staying right here, in this place, and seeing all of the details. Not by trying to see the whole map, but by seeing the spot where I am standing now, and realizing that I'm already there.
That's the message I'm being offered right now, the concept that I'm precisely where I need to be. Not right now, but all of the time. I don't need to go anywhere. What I need is to be here! Being here IS how I get somewhere. By being here, in the present moment, I automatically advance forward towards the woman I'm becoming. I don't need to figure out where I'm going, because the way to get there is by being here. There IS here, where I am, wherever I go. Oh, hey...there I am.