Reverent Travel: The Matterhorn

January 23, 2013

Today I am writing from a café in the Swiss mountain town of Zermatt, situated at the heart-stopping base of The Matterhorn.

 Zermatt Matterhorn

Before I say more, allow me to confess that travel is so humbling to me, so absolutely undeserved. As I hold a plane ticket or train fare or passport in hand, I consider each as a token of privilege. In fact, I hesitate to even write about this trip because it feels too unbelievable, too extravagant to call my own.  My eyes are a little bloodshot from trying to open them wider.  My forehead is wrinkled with wonder.

This particular adventure began a bit haphazardly. Mike and I distractedly packed by throwing things into backpacks while watching old episodes of Community. We took a break to go to dinner with friends and never really finished the job.  I packed clothes that weren’t washed, socks with holes in them, and completely forgot all of our travel books and maps. Whoops.

We departed as inadvertent wanderers and arrived in Dublin with backpacks and passports and sentences that began with “Well, I guess….” Our friend Matt planned to meet us in Dublin for his deployment R&R, but we ran into him by accident while waiting in the same line at a coffee shop.

Adventure came in a spontaneous sort of way, which I guess is the best kind.

Adventure forces me to relax when I don’t want to and cultivates courage I don’t naturally have.  It requires a form of bravery that was built into Mike at birth and thereafter while watching action films and going to war.

Action films actually make me less brave, because now I assume that every place has a dark basement below with scarred criminals playing poker. I consider every location has or will be visited by Jason Bourne and I just pray that I’m on the right side of that scenario.

Adventuring is a way to practice this bravery I don’t have yet, as a way of manifesting the sort of person I’d like to be.  It’s a vehicle for exploring a word- -reverence- -that I almost never think about.

Travel is an ultra-expensive way to arrive at simplicity, but it accomplishes that goal every time.  It ushers you into places where your language might be foreign, but everyone else’s sounds that way too. So you isolate the essentials, speak with your hands, and agree on crucial words like,  “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Toilet.”  (The last one being the most important, of course).

This is the first time I’m doing a knit-together series on the blog, so we will see how it goes. If you hate it, check back in two weeks for a singular post on the morality of animal euthanasia. Just kidding. But seriously, check back.

For now, this European travel series will center on one agreed-upon word, an essential concept that acts as a simplistic anchor to sites and sounds that feel foreign.


I’ll explore it in story, package it in adventure, and do it with wide eyes, wonder-wrinkles, and prayers that Euro power adapters don’t fry my computer.

What do you say? Are you coming with?

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