Wherever you go, there you are

The Miracle of the Mundane


The Slogan Series Volume 3

One Day at a Time

Attitude of Gratitude

And now,

“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:

  1. Catch a meeting in every state
  2. Watch each sunset and sunrise
  3. 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?”

“Beats me.”

“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.

9 Responses to “Wherever you go, there you are

  • Loved it. We are always beset with the disease. We cannot hide from it. But you are so right with being spiritually vigilant. The deeper our relationship with God the stronger we become. Like Jesus in the desert, when that snake comes those old urges just don’t fire. Thanks for another dose of sherpaness.

    • There it is brother! I was laughing so hard when I realized what happened in that desert. There is no escaping temptation. It has to be confronted. And I know, for me, if I don’t have the faith, I will succumb to it. Thank God for giving us faith! And thanks for reading Kip!

  • Mary LA aka louisey
    2 years ago

    I found that the hypervigilance eased up after five years or so sober. But when travelling, I call ahead to make sure I don’t have bar fridges in hotel rooms or welcome receptions with ice-cold cocktails handed to me as I walk in hot and flustered with jet lag. And I check for boozy desserts in restaurants. It is a way of life though, not very different from the vigilance shown by people with diabetes or food allergies.

    • Those are great ways to stay vigilant while travelling. Another thing I do is make sure I have a meeting to go to when travelling. And, a way out (even if it’s just my car) when I go out at night. I’m much better with it now (like you said the vigilance kind of eases up) but in that first year it was definitely hyper! Thanks for the feedback. This is what makes posting this stuff totally worth it.

  • This is my favorite post so far. Loved the descriptive story, felt like I was there. This is a wonderful example of why we must stay spiritually fit, Our demons live within us, and I for one, am too old and out of shape to outrun them. So glad I have found a less strenuous way to keep them in bay. Loved this and would be honored to reblog on my website, http://www.trippingthrurrecovery.com, with your permission, of course. 🙂

    • Wow, I’m so honored Leslie! Please do re-blog it!

      You know I was thinking of you when I was posting it (because I was telling you about my sober trip while you took yours). I considered reaching out to you when I was posting it. I’m so glad you read it.

      Keep up your work. Keep writing, keep video-casting (what?! That was awesome). And always, let’s keep in touch.

      • Can’t believe I posted that video! It is all about overcoming fear. Definitely keep in touch!

  • What an exciting read. I’ve never been to Death Valley and think I’ll keep it that way. I like how you tied in the facts about early settlers…true grit, definitely. And the snake in the dessert, ha how true. Hope you’ll write more of these, really enjoyed it.

    • Thanks Kirsten. I had many stops on that trip across country and would love to write of more of them. Only others weren’t as eventful as getting tempted while camping alone in the desert…Well, if you ever do, be sure to check out the museum. You can’t miss it. There’s only one road through Death Valley.

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