As a result of seeking an adventurous life through travel, I have met many people.
Amazing people. People who have changed me and the maze of my life forever.
But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also met myself.
Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.
When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.
I see the loneliness standing on the roof of my apartment in Portugal, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.
I see meeting one of the loves of my life at a campsite in Belgium, and knowing he was important. And I see us two years later in Christchurch, crying in our hotel room, not knowing if we would ever hold each other that way again.
I see myself in the eyes of every ex-lover, the ones I knew for a night in cities I did not know well. The ones I never even touched physically, but who shared a conversation through broken English or Spanish, and in doing that, shared a part of themselves.
I see myself under a beat up old red barn, covered in hay, shoveling bags of sheep shit.
I see myself walking through caves of glow worms and thinking they looked like the whole universe.
I see dusty motorcycle rides and boats that made me seasick. I see the faces of all the people who were and are all on their own grand adventure, and it’s beautiful to me to know that I shared a brief moment in time with them. Just knowing that is so powerful. And it’s naïve. But it’s enough.
I have never been able to afford nice hotels or nice restaurants, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort, and it might never be.
It’s about the deep brown in the eyes of the woman you met on the streets of Budapest; the way her hair smelled like jasmine and dust.
It’s about the whiskey you did not need to drink, the moon bright on the jagged peaks and pine trees, the wobble in your steps on the walk back to your cabin on icy roads.
It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the glow worms– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.
The depth and variety within the flip book of your life is easy to forget about. We get sucked in to our daily mundane. We forget about all of these moments we have lived.
When you remember all the places you met yourself– the places you can put on a map and the places you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And worth experiencing in the first place.
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Hi friend. I hope I can call you that even though I don’t know you and you know less about me. Just wanted you to know you have great gift for blogging. For setting up a scene and letting us imagine in our own way what you saw, smelled, felt. Your vlogs are great. Don’t stop making them. But these blogs. They are something else. Thank you for sharing.
David! Thank you so much for your comment. So happy to hear that. The blog will always be here– it was my first love when I started creating and it’s still my biggest love. Thanks again.
It’s a pleasure to read your blog, and I’m so glad I found you.
Thank you Lynn! Always great to hear from you.
i emailed you right before i left on my solo trip west this fall. i climbed all over california and nevada and i slept in my truck and had beer for dinner more nights than i should have and cried at like 100 truck stops at 5:30am (always). it was fantastic and now i’m home a different person. thanks for emailing me back. that was something you didn’t have to do, but it made all the difference knowing i had one person rooting for me. hell yeah. thank you.
MK – It’s so great to hear from you! Tears of joy!! Those 100 truck stops… it’s all so crucial in the process. I’m still rooting for you. xo
This is so beautifully written, Erin! I could really resonate with this personally, it isn’t about the comforts of travel but about the experiences. It’s often the moments of discomfort and moments where things go wrong that you learn the most and grow. I find I always come back with a different perspective on life, and have always tried so hard to hold onto that new enlightened view. As soon as it starts to slip away, that’s when I know it’s time for another trip! Hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy the travels ahead!
Thank you so much for sharing, Diana! Totally with you!
You are such a beautiful writer. Your words conjure up so many stunning memories of my own travels that, since I have been living a life in one place for so long, I have almost forgotten. It reminds me of the importance of writing to remember about those moments; remember about myself. Keep up the good, inspiring work!
Thank you so much, Jessie. It’s fascinating that we live all these moments– how could we forget them for a single minute? But we do. I’m honored to have helped you remember. Thank you! xo
Meeting yourself, I like that. “Michael meet Michael, I hope you like him.” Lots to think on there. A lady I loved (still do) once told me I would not have liked her had I met her earlier in life. I like the way you think and identify places we can all recognize, then you take us there. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes this spot of yours worth experiencing in the first place. Sound familiar? (<; Thanks E another good one!
Hey Michael, thanks for sharing your story! Love it. Thank you for reading 🙂
You have a way with words. This is beautiful and speaks to me on so many levels! Have a great new year filled with awesome growing experiences and love.
Thanks so much, Andrea! All the love right back to you. xo
I really needed to hear this! Thank you Erin, for always being so full of wisdom!
Thank you Annabel! So glad you felt it.
These words! Just what I needed to read before heading into 2017. This is me affirming you for what you are doing and encouraging you to press onward. Thank you for sharing these little insights with all of us in internet world. Inspired + energized for my personal projects in the new year as well as the renewal of communities around the globe. Thank you thank you!
I loved this article, among a few others I just stumbled through. I can totally relate to the way you travel and some of the experiences you’ve mentioned.
Love this. The way I see it, meeting yourself is one of the big benefits (and challenges) of wandering around solo. Your blog (and vlog) are inspiring. Your tips contributed to me getting over the hump and finally starting my own website. Thanks girl! Keep it up.
I get it. I hike down to a lake at night in the summer to take photos. It isn’t an hour from my house. I was scared away one night by a snake on the trail but made myself go back the next week. Nights were getting warm and bugs flew in a cloud in front of my head lamp. I was miserable but it isn’t enough to escape my office job. I have to have evidence that I have escaped. I need a souvenir and an accomplishment that is not a product of my job, my marriage, or any relationship. Part of me was down the one-mile trail from the road.
I felt as if I was ready to pop like an over-filled balloon as I looked carefully down at the trail and the surrounding grass. As if choreographed to the crescendo of an opera, bats began to dive into the cloud of bugs in the light beam in front of my face. The flapping of their wings generated a fast, deep vibration that only briefly disoriented me in my anxious state. They dove in from behind me, around my neck and ears, to the front of my face. I stood still and after a few seconds, they were gone.
Somehow, moments like this put everything into perspective. A deep breath remodels the world. Work, marriage, and photography were all new. The trail was new.
Beautiful share, William! Thank you.