Before I left on my 1985 nine-month journey to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, my friend Wanda told me that I should remember the phrase “Wherever you go, there you are.”
I was 24 and didn’t know what the hell she meant. Much later I discovered it’s the title of a book about Zen Buddhism by Jon Kabat-Zinn, so it likely refers to present-moment awareness.
But to me, it also means that you can go to some place exotic and new, but you are still you, with all your thoughts, ties, and emotional baggage that you have to deal with.
Granted, exploring other places, especially for long periods of time, is a great way to learn about yourself, to grow, and to figure out what to do with the next phase of your life. You may have important epiphanies and you may become a much happier and wiser person.
I do know that the two long stints I spent abroad changed me for the better and changed the direction of my life path.
What are your thoughts about how long-term travel — abroad or on the Pacific Crest Trail, for instance — can affect us?