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You Can Travel The World But You Will Never Arrive

There is always another bend in the road, another mountain to climb.

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MONTREAL ,Canada- “You can never arrive,” the 50-something journalist spoke from behind her gin and tonic across the table from me in the outdoor seating area of a Montreal bar. “Even that film director who won the Oscars that you were talking about could have some old bitch hold up his film.”

I told her about how the delay in a film that I was working on was due to a funding issue — the lady putting up the cash for the director’s previous film didn’t approve of its conclusion so she prevented its release.

The journalist’s message was clear: even if you rise to the top of your profession, win an Oscar, you will never get to a place where you can sit back and say “I did it.” There will always be people above you to put you in your place — the will always be the downward pull of gravity no matter how high you soar.

When applied to my situation, her advice was clear: there will never be a time in my career where I will be able to sit back and say I’ve made it.

I was expressing a concern that, at 37 years old, I may be running out of time to accomplish my objectives. She told me point blank that I will always feel like this no matter what I achieve. She was probably right. If I write ten books I wouldn’t feel accomplished until I write 20. If I start making bigger budget docs I probably wouldn’t feel that I got anywhere until I won an Oscar. If I won an Oscar …

You can never arrive.

I grew up in a modest ranch house in the countryside between Rochester and Buffalo, NY. My father would always have to be fixing things and doing work around his half acre of land. He would talk then of the day he would get a newer house and not have to always be fixing everything.

Eventually, after I left, he did buy a newer house: a beautiful two story suburb style house on the outskirts of Rochester. It’s bigger and better in every way than the old house, but one thing has always remained: repairs. Something was screwed up with the drainage and torrents of water poured into the basement, there is mold growing on the ceiling of the kitchen, the yard with its stunning plethora of trees and bushes is too large and complex to keep up with, the washer, dryer, and hot water tank all need to be replaced. The internet hardware is atrociously slow and needs to be upgraded. The downstairs needs to be repainted. You can never arrive.

Happily ever after is always just the beginning.

Filed under: Essays

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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  • steven April 13, 2019, 3:09 pm

    Yes , it’s called “upkeep” and the more you have the more there is of it ….

    My motto for a long time now has been “less is more” but as a caveat, I have the luxury of being 66 y/o.

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    • Wade Shepard April 15, 2019, 3:26 pm

      Right on! So many people get buried in their lives. Through my work at other publications I interact with wealthy people on a regular basis — they have more money but, man, I’m not sure how much better they really live.

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