“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir
When I was 12 years old, I had the opportunity to travel with my aunt and uncle to Sweden. It was my first time to leave the great state of Texas, and it was certainly the first time I had ever left the country. I remember my stomach being in knots for weeks before the trip. My entire being was filled with excitement and curiosity mixed with fear and anxiety of the unknown. I was so nervous for take off that I nearly hyperventilated. Despite any doubts I might have possessed, my trip to Sweden exceeded anything I could have possibly imagined. It was on this extraordinary trip that I had my first encounter with Wanderlust.
Wanderlust is not a fantastical idea or a figment of one’s imagination. It is a real thing, an incurable disease, with all too real symptoms. However, unlike the millions of other diseases that roam the planet, Wanderlust is in the business of giving life instead of taking it away. In its simplest form, Wanderlust is the strong desire to wander and explore the world. This desire lurks in the shadows of every human soul. It patiently waits for the perfect time to encompass its unsuspecting subjects. It is strong in force, harmless in nature, and promising in purpose. Once its existence is discovered, life will never be the same again.
After unleashing this condition and experiencing the wonders that it brings, I looked for every opportunity to satisfy my unquenchable thirst for adventure, an exhilarating yet time consuming side effect of Wanderlust. Over the years, this need for adventure has taken me to places I thought I could only dream of. During the heat of an Italian summer, I ate copious amounts of pasta and gelato in an attempt to do as the Romans do. In a tiny coastal town, constantly battered by the winds of the North Sea, I spent countless hours marveling at the ruins of a 14th century cathedral, all the while wondering what it might have looked like before the walls were weathered to grey and the windows no longer possessed their glorious stained glass. Under the lamplight of a Parisian side street cafe, I was soothed by the words of Hemingway and many other authors echoing off the pages of timeless novels. It seemed that no matter what I did or where I went, one thing remained the same: a piece of me never returned home.
I think this is one of the most beautiful things about Wanderlust. It doesn’t matter if you travel 5 miles or 5,000 miles; a piece of you will always be left behind. It is the small price you pay for loving people and things in more than one place. I firmly believe that life is not meant to be spent in one place. If we do, we only read one page of a truly amazing story. There’s a whole new world out there. Don’t spend your life stuck on one page. You don’t have to travel across the world. You simply have to travel farther than your backyard. All around you there are memories to be made, lessons to be learned, and adventures to be discovered. The only way we can discover these wonders is to wander.
Wandering is the root word of Wanderlust. It is the only way we discover what is beyond our fingers. It doesn’t matter how far or how long we wander as long as we get lost along the way. It is this treacherous journey through the woods that helps us discover who we are and where in the world we are meant to be.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we wander, the burning flame of Wanderlust will never be kindled. However, despite this fact, I strongly urge you to act upon this undying desire every chance you get.
The situations and the people around you will tell you that it’s crazy to chase after something that appears to bring you no substantial gain. Don’t listen to them. Follow your instincts, no matter how crazy they may be. It’s good to defy logic every now and then. We only have one life to live, and I assure you that life is too short to wait for the perfect time. In reality, there is no such thing as perfect timing. So today and every day after, get lost in the magnificence of Wanderlust and discover the beauty that the world has to offer. I promise that it won’t disappoint. Happy Wandering!