A few years ago I made a commitment to be more honest with the world, but more importantly, with myself. I’ve been more or less successful, but living in a small town where I see half a dozen familiar faces every time I go to the grocery store makes it easy. I don’t want to get caught in a lie. Traveling through small Himalayan villages tests it.
For a long time, maybe most of my life, I was uncomfortable in my own skin and my semi-nomadic lifestyle allowed me to avoid dealing with it.
Moving was an opportunity to recreate myself, and traveling, especially, gave me the chance to literally be someone else. I changed my name, background, profession and identity. Casual encounters in coffee shops or on trains didn’t meet me. They met a physicist from New Zealand; being poor in math, I liked to choose careers that I couldn’t possibly pull off in real life. Sometimes I mixed Spanish in with my English and claimed to be from Bolivia or Argentina. I was the estranged wife of a Hungarian diplomat or a daughter-on-the-run of a Mafia hit man. Who I am could never possibly be enough.
Here in the Himalayas, I’ve had to bite my tongue more than once. After all, what harm do these lies do? Who would ever know? It’s just role play, a way of expressing my creative side.
But I would know and lying has lost its appeal. So, maybe for the first time on the road, maybe for the first time ever, I’m practicing just being me. And, for now, it’s enough.