It has said that it is far easier to travel than to write about it. I can relate. I travelled out of state this past weekend to attend my first large Pride event, and so much happened to me within the space of those few days that I am struggling to find a place to begin expressing all that I learned, felt and observed.
Miriam Beard wrote that “travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” At some point over the weekend, I realized the truth of this concept. Though I have travelled much during my life, to places far and near, with family and with friends, for purposes both noble and ordinary, it was on this trip, more than ever before, that I realized the value of travel to educate, enlighten, discover and inspire.
I was the guest this past weekend of my friend MoHoHawaii. He was the first person to comment on my blog. As the weeks passed after I began my coming-out process, he provided me with valuable advice, insight and support, becoming my mentor and friend. I met him at Christmas-time as he passed through Salt Lake, and he extended an open invitation to visit him and his boyfriend. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I was able to take him up on that invitation.
As he wrote about on his blog yesterday, MoHoHawaii and I began a conversation as soon as he picked me up at the airport, and this conversation continued well into that night and basically continued throughout the weekend. We talked a lot about a lot of things, including the Church, spirituality, coming out, and family relationships.
“All journeys,” wrote Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, “have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” It was while we were eating a late lunch last Friday afternoon, continuing this on-going conversation, that I arrived at the first of a number of “secret destinations” that were not part of the formal “itinerary” for the weekend and which I hadn’t anticipated visiting.
We had been discussing coming out and various facets and ramifications of that process. As we talked, I found myself going down pathways into my inner self that I hadn’t previously travelled. Then I came to a place that surprised me. Suddenly, without warning, I found emotions welling up within me because I had discovered that, deep within me, there was still a huge pool of shame connected with me being gay.
Later in the weekend, I would visit another destination, also unplanned and lying close to the one I have just described, at which I discovered that there was still a part of me, quite powerful and resistant to change, that had been refusing to give me permission to come out.
I didn’t, prior to coming on this trip. I thought I had worked through the shame, worked through the coming out. But I was reminded just how deep and virile are the patterns of thought that have been engrained after living most of my life in the closet. I had sensed that there was something that had been holding me back from taking the next leg of my journey, but I hadn’t been able to pinpoint and understand the cause. I may not have discovered these secret destinations had I not come on this trip, had I not had the conversations and the experiences I had with MoHoHawaii and others this past weekend, because, as Hermann Melville wrote, such places are “ … not down in any map; true places never are.”
There were other secret destinations discovered throughout the course of the weekend of which I hope to write later. Suffice it for now to say that each of these “destinations” shared one thing in common: they helped me to see myself and the world differently. As Henry Miller wrote, “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” The same concept was expressed by Marcel Proust thusly: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
So, I’m grateful to MoHoHawaii for being such a wonderful host, to be sure, but even more so for being a friend and helping me to discover these places inside myself.