Wherever You Go, There You Are

Bergen, Norway
Friday, September 1, 2017


Wherever You Go, There You Are

My eldest daughter, M, says I need to find my audience for this blog.

I should have a consistent voice.

I should know to whom I’m speaking.

She’s correct, of course. I

keep searching.

I guess I haven’t found it yet.

G’morning then, unknown reader!

I just arrived in Bergen, Norway, exiting a partial cruise (because splitting early) to see the fjords. They are awesome. I suggest you see them if you can.

However, travel is a mixed bag.

Here are a few of the contents sloshing around inside the bag:

First, places often look just like you imagined them. Pictures are so ubiquitous, in this age of social media. You’ve seen the images a billion times before you get there.

Sometimes I think this:

Wait, I’ve seen this before.

I’m not sure what I’m waiting for.

Second, and as the Buddhists say:

Wherever you go, there you are.

There’s a book by that name. I’ve never read it. Someday I will.

I believe I get the point, though.

Whatever shakiness you might have in self-image, other-image, world-image, mood, terror or what-have-you, it travels right along with you.

Today, for example, I’m irritable as hell.

I’m looking out the window at a picture-perfect Nordic town. Imagine it and you’ll be here. Yep, that’s it. Dark pastel colors, wooded hills, green-blue ocean dotted with ferry boats scampering about.

This riff reminds me of Jacques Lacan’s idea of the le petit object a. It represents that ever-elusive satisfaction you constantly seek. By definition, you never get there. You can never get there. You will never get there.

That’s why vacations are best when looking forward to them or looking back on them.

While you’re on them, well, you are there

Some days, like today, it’s a disappointment.

That brings to my mind my second psychoanalytic control case. (A “control case” refers to a person you provide four or more times per week psychoanalytic sessions while you go through psychoanalytic training as I did, like a good masochist, in the early 1990s.)

His first name starts with a D. He was hilarious. He was British. About six months into the year and a half of the intensive psychoanalytic work, he sat up on the couch and exclaimed:

Alan, I think we’re working at cross purposes!

I replied,

I’m not sure what you mean.

As you can tell, I was trying to sound all psychoanalytic-like.

I’m sure, to him, it sounded proper. To me, it now sounds rather awkward.

D paused, and then said, honest-a-God:

I came here to try and become someone else…

but you’re just making me become me.


It might just be the greatest compliment ever paid to me, at least in my working life.

I think that’s my point.

Beware of travel. Do it if you want to, if you can afford it, if you’re lucky in some of the ways I am.

(I’m seriously unlucky in other ways, but don’t want to get into that now; I mean, ain’t I irritable enough already?)

I say that because you bring your SELF with you, which leads to my second point.

If you travel alone, then you will face periods of loneliness.

If you travel with others, then they will seriously annoy you. This, in and of itself, is an astonishingly complex topic.

Sometimes your companions annoy you because, well, they are, in fact, annoying. They bitch excessively. They are shaming or critical. They are the embodiment of Debbie-The-Downer.

Alternatively, and fascinatingly, they may annoy you because of YOU. Ah, yes, that nasty traveling self-image again. Like followers of Melanie Klein obsess about, we project like crazy.

Therefore, that nasty self-image of yours may get projected into your companion. You judge them like you judge yourself. You dislike them.You think them inferior… you get the point.

You may also project your own nasty internal critic onto them. In those instances, you become all you, and they assume the role of your internal critic. All those perceptions of you being criticized, judged, inhibited, rejected, disliked, and so on emanate from, oh yes, you’re own disturbed little inner Nazi.

Truth it, it’s tough to tell the difference. It’s tough to tell the difference wherever you are.

In other words, even when you’re not looking over the cloud covered skies of Bergen, Norway, at the red tile roofs and the ferry boats and the rock-strewn, wooded hillsides or the freshly-mopped-docks or the multi-colored boats etc, it remains difficult to see where you end and the other begins.

And all that before you even consider the crazy influence of the big Other, a rather serious obsession of my own. Some call it culture. Some attribute it to mirror neurons. Some say we mimic like the monkeys we are.

I find it oppressive.

Sometimes, like today, I find it depressing. I mean, you can drag a sample of folks off a Bergen sidewalk and plop them in Times Square in NYC and they’d look the same. You’d never see any difference.

I guess you’d have to travel to the depth of the Congo to find folks that look different enough to, well, look different enough.

I think I’ve written enough.

I have a cool plan to describe the three types of universal health care in another blog post, and soon. I will do it.

Meanwhile, I had to vent. I end with my usual does of unsolicited advice:

Remember you are always looking at your self, in some fashion, when you look at the other.


(If you like this blog, please tell your friends, family, and pets to subscribe by opening up alankarbelnig.com, clicking on any blog, scrolling to the bottom, and signing up. Like any selfless writer, I always seek more readers. Thanks so much! – Alan)

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