Wherever you go, there you are
The Miracle of the Mundane
The Slogan Series Volume 3
“Wherever you go, there you are”
Simply put, you can’t run from yourself. If you have a problem, moving from it to start anew won’t help. If you are the problem, then you take it with you.
I learned that “wherever you go, there you are” when I travelled across the country with just over one year sober. It was a solo venture. I took six weeks and saw the country with only a few guidelines:
- Catch a meeting in every state
- Watch each sunset and sunrise
- Never stay in a hotel (I packed a tent and slept in my car a lot)
Death Valley was my 3rd stop.
Signs demand you turn off your car’s air conditioning upon entering Death Valley National Park.
This lessens the strain on your car and lowers the likelihood of it overheating. It also reminds you there is no escaping the scorching desert conditions while travelling in Death Valley. Driving at decent speeds with the window down doesn’t cool you off; it only increases the volume and velocity of hot-air-stream through your vehicle.
The Death Valley National Park Museum explains the western discovery of the vast desert and cites the harrowing tales of early settlers’ attempts to cross it. In all accounts, the seventy-mile trek to the mountain ranges west of the desert were a blistering blockade, often becoming a sandy graveyard for the unprepared migrant. Those who made the journey possessed true American grit.
With the stories of iron-willed individualists dancing in my mind, I pulled into Furnace Creek to camp. I set up the lone tent in the camp and pushed my $15 into the envelope slot on the unmanned collection post despite my mind’s protestations that no one would know the difference.
Likely there were more people choosing to stay at the luxurious Furnace Creek Resort a mile down the way, a self-described “lush oasis.” From my twenty-square-foot plot of sand, I could see the last few holes of the resort’s golf course, an impossible green in a flat sea of red sand.
Night came on.
With the night horizon stretched flat before me, I watched lightning flash too far away to hear thunder. The sky ignited; the electric tendrils splintering in the distance. I’ve never again seen lighting strike with the same ferocity and range; yet I never heard a single bolt crack the earth. This kept me up a few hours.
The tent was too hot to sleep in. A strange paradox sleeping in the desert: you rely on the breeze for relief yet the breeze at night is sultry and uncomfortable.
A flash nap on top of my sleeping bag and I am awake again, sweating and staring at the sky’s galvanized white heat.
When I turned my head to the right I saw a large and strange-looking bug crawling at a good pace. I leaped up to sleep on my camp site’s table.
I lay on the table for a while thinking about how isolated I am, how far from the touch of another human being. I thought it ironic that while Christ was tempted in the desert, I was the farthest away from temptation, the farthest away from a drink or drug.
Within an hour, flashlights came circling in from the distance. Two German Exchange students were relieved to see they were not alone. I remember one wearing cargo pants, and a plain green t-shirt. He wore round-wired glasses. They both spoke good English.
“Is this weather normal for Death Valley?”
“Will you be sleeping outside?”
“I may try my car. It’s too hot for me to sleep out here.”
I asked them where they were from and where they were heading.
With two weeks before the semester starts at Arizona State, they rented a car to see the southwest. It wasn’t until green t-shirt offered me a toke that I realized a fat joint was tucked underneath his ear. “No thanks,” I said without hesitation; brain neurons sparked from smoldered remains—the old craving failed to fire.
“We have cold, well maybe no longer cold, beers in the car if you want to join us.”
I thanked them for the offer and tried explained in simple English that I wasn’t drinking that night.
As they walked away I laughed to myself. Just when I think I couldn’t be any more immune to a slip, here comes the snake in the desert.
It must be true what they say, wherever you go, there you are. I cannot go anywhere and be free of alcoholism. This is why I must remain vigilant in my spiritual life; there is no running away from the problem.