They say that wherever you go, there you are – “they” being, of course, that inexplicably all-knowing, strangely anonymous yet supposedly unerring font of collective human wisdom from which I would ordinarily try to take any advice with a grain of salt. After all, if they’re anonymous, how do you know whether they actually followed their own advice? Did they live according to their own commonsensical laws? (And did it help them?) If the Wikipedia has taught us anything, it’s to always cite your sources.
Nonetheless, and facetiousness aside, I can’t help but think that in some cases “they” are absolutely right – and this is one of them. No matter where in the world you find yourself, no matter what you bring with you or what you leave behind, there’s always one thing that remains the same, one thing that you can’t get rid of even if you wanted to.
Now that’s not to say that I think a person can’t evolve and grow, or that a new place is little more than a change of scenery. (Certain locales are obviously more conducive to certain lifestyles or habits, for example, or they offer you opportunities – or challenges? – that other places can’t.) I also don’t mean to suggest – even implicitly – that I necessarily want to leave myself behind or get rid of my past …though I guess you could argue that any move, regardless of its stated purpose, involves some form of “escape” from your prior self, whether consciously intentional or not.
In any event, my point is, as I said, not that you can’t change yourself nor that your surroundings don’t matter. It is, rather, that just picking up and shuffling yourself away to a different spot on the globe and expecting that that will change everything all on its own… well, it is, to put it politely, nonsense. Actually, it’s utterly ridiculous. It’s completely insane! And what’s more, it’s also…
…it’s also completely understandable.
Heck, I’ve been doing this for years, moving from place to place with that exact expectation in mind, and apparently am only just now fully realizing the inescapable truth of the little aphorism that started this blog post.
Again, I don’t mean to suggest – especially not to those few of my (also very few) regular readers who know my situation – that this is entirely personal or that it’s borne out of present dissatisfaction: I am, on the whole, happy with my move and am optimistic – if sometimes a bit cautiously – about my future possibilities. It’s just that, with this move in particular, I’m finally accepting that, though location does matter, ultimately it matters far less than what you bring with you.
It’s not the material things, of course, but instead the things that only you yourself can sense: the mental lens through which you view the world, the memories that inevitably color the way you perceive (and remember) your new experiences… even the hopes and dreams that can irresistibly persist even through changing circumstances.
It’s all these things, and more, wrapped up tightly in a relatively small, fairly fragile skull that is – future bio-technological advances notwithstanding – our only truly persistent home throughout life.
And so it is like they say: wherever you go, there you are. Because wherever you are, wherever it is in the world that you choose to rest your head, the universe ultimately only makes one guarantee, only offers us that one X-mark of certainty in our otherwise uncertain journeys.
“You are here.”