Monday, December 28, 2009
Wanderlust – the intense desire to travel or move about. Wanderers, nomads - are we true adventurers? Are we running away? Are we living life to the full? Are we shirking responsibility? These are the questions a wander or true nomad encounters. The establishment challenges the nomadic way of life as disruptive, unproductive and carefree, and yet in the end is rather jealous of the freedom such a lifestyle affords. At times the nomad feels lost, detached, and untethered from this world, and their friends and family. It is common to second-guess what we trade for the freedom to move about at will, and see the world. Unencumbered by permanent house, mortgage, flat screen TV payments, a 9-5 job, the nomad is able to exercise and enjoy his wanderlust at will. Feel a burning desire to stand on the observatory tower at Palenque, jump a bus. Feel the need for swimming in 80-degree crystal clear water, head south. Want to see the Dogon villages in Mali, head out the door.
Wanderlust affects us all to different degrees, but it is an emotion that all humans share on some level. It is associated with ultimate freedom. It gives you the ability to decide who you are and where you are going, regardless of the external situation. As we go further, we learn to roll with the punches of the wander, seeing them not as failures, but as detours on our way. Wanderlust is valuable in making us stretch our horizons and comfort zones, providing endless fresh learning opportunities. This overwhelming sense of freedom, akin to our childhood memories of the last day of school, can be addicting.
At times we begin to wander just for the sake of wandering, or running away from our lives and ourselves. On these trips, the nomad soon realizes that he has pushed off without a reason, and yes, there always is a reason in this life. That kind of trip begins to feel empty, and we begin to try to fill it with distractions. The stuff of life like food, drink, adventure, cannot satisfy this void. We begin to wonder what we are doing out here, what is our purpose. We reach a sort of plateau, and our customary trips are no longer sufficient, so we dream up newer and bolder adventures. We find these types of trip offered by all types of high-end agents, with such offerings as a tour of the Wahkan corridor of Afghanistan for 10000 dollars. Or we witness this in the increasing need for people to “conquer” Mt. Everest at a staggering cost in money and spirit. And in the end, when we have come back from these extremes, what have we learned? Our addiction is still intact, we still are not satisfied, and the search continues. We have not left our plateau, because from plateaus, we need to evolve. As our life is an evolution, so is our wandering. Each experience must build of the prior, guiding us on our path.
Plateaus are resting points, places to regroup and gather our forces for the next push into the unknown – so we keep moving ahead – wandering. We start to see that our whole life is a wander – we cannot know anything here with certainty, so we set out each day with a fresh perspective. At the plateau we try to shed some opinion and judgment, and move ahead when our load is lighter, and we feel refreshed. The True Nomad does not wander to wander, aimless, and directionless.
We wander because this is life, living each new experience and creating a path as we go. This is the alternative to creating a “life” with a house, car, job, pension, and stuff, and then searching for direction in that random space, with its restrictions on movement and exploration. After all, you can only run away for so long. Eventually you will find your self, it has been along for the ride from the beginning. Once you know it, you can stop looking and start moving toward YOUR dreams, goals, and destiny. And when you do, you will be glad if you can wander, and follow that inner call of your heart. As humans, we have a beautiful capacity for that feeling, like the last day of school over and over again. When you are free and able to follow it you are on your path, and the feeling never gets old, and you never feel without purpose.