Have you ever felt a deep urge to do something or to go some place that you keep thinking about over and over and over again? It keeps scratching at your brain, telling you to do it; to go for it. But for some reason, you can’t. And you don’t.
For every 20 people I meet, there is at least one person in this group that is the type we all envy. Whether we like to admit it or not. They are the “wanderers”, the “free-spirited”. The free.
Everyone assumes that they wander because they are “lost”. They have no meaning to their lives, they have no purpose. They are constantly searching for something. Something none of us “rooted” people seem to see. We look at them and assess them as some kind of alien because we don’t understand their inherent need to constantly travel, to live in countries that don’t even speak their language. To go chasing something that is so different than where they were born.
We don’t feel comfortable around these birds of passage. Yes, we listen to their stories and tales of their adventures. We listen in awe of all the amazing and beautiful places they have been to. But something inside us doesn’t sit quite right – because we are afraid.
We wish we could be as carefree as to pack a bag, book a plane ticket and just land in a place and take it from there. “If only life was that simple” is what you usually hear. Or, my favourite, “I wish I could be more like you”.
What people don’t see is – we are all exactly the same.
Just because a person looks like they are so brave and daring as to go out into the world and expose themselves to all these new experiences, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t petrified underneath it all. They are just different in that they take the first step into it because they know that after the first step, everything else is easy.
When I speak to my friends who have travelled to different countries and seen so much more than myself, there are always the exact same topics that come up – Not only are we all the same, but no matter what country you travel to every human is looking for the same values in their lives as the next. Love, security, enjoyment and also a better hope for the future.
No matter what language we speak, we all want these things. Which is why saying “I can’t speak their language” or “I don’t think I’d suit the climate there”, just won’t cut it anymore. Get out and do it! You will see you can relate to everyone in the world if you look past all the superficial things and your own self-imposed excuses, that separate you.
“But what if I get homesick?”. True, you will definitely experience this, but isn’t it better to experience the pang of homesickness than to experience the regret of never having visited the places you wanted to. That hangs around a lot longer than missing home.
Also, I hear a lot of people say “All I want is a good job, a house and a family, then I’ll know I’ve made it”. This is a huge mistake.
While I’m not dismissing these needs and desires as necessary, I don’t think they are what defines a solid, happy, successful or stable life. It is a delusional way of living and when you do actually get around to achieving these things, there’ll always be something else missing from your life.
You can do so much more with your time between getting a house, and getting married. You can live. You can walk around with a backpack on, with 20 dollars in your pocket taking each day as it comes and meeting the most unique people and visiting the most diverse cultures that you otherwise would never have been exposed to, had you been sitting at home in your 4 bedroom 2 bathroom house. And wondering when the excitement of life was going to happen to you.
If you work your life up to this modern day illusion of what being “successful” is, then when you achieve it you are going to be a very unhappy and unsatisfied person once the dust settles. Take your time, and enjoy the ride and stop deferring your happiness.
People rely too heavily on the word “destiny”. They use it as a cop-out and an excuse to not do something with their lives. To actually give into the temptation to go and get lost in the world is everyones right. You shouldn’t limit yourself because of who you know, where you come from, how much money you have, or don’t have, or how “old” you are. I think if we all stopped using these things as excuses, then we would all be wanderers.
I feel really sorry for some people that I have met who work in stable 9 to 5 jobs, who are so closed minded because they buy into the ignorance of societies idea of what their lives should be. I get frightened when I meet young, talented women who don’t open their minds to everything the world has to offer them. Women who will never know their talents because they are quite happy to just worry about how good they look in a dress for Saturday night or what materialistic possessions they can get their hands on. Or worse still, constantly trying to out-do their peers with trivial things that don’t matter and don’t provide anyone with happiness.
I have been very fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to travel with my profession. While I feel I have a lot more to do, I have been so lucky to be able to talk to people in the most remote and dangerous areas in the world. People who actually have to get up everyday and work hard to just get through tasks that we take for granted. And my mind has been opened to so much more because of it. It expanded my thinking and I grew as a person.
Everyone is closed minded at different levels, including me. We have to discover things for ourselves over time, or we will just continue in believing what we do and the way we are currently living.
Just because we might be comfortable with the way our lives are, doesn’t give us any right to question the decisions or the habits of another person.
Maybe you are the wrong one; maybe if you realise that the world is a much more fun and better place because of all the diverse people out there, you’ll be better off.
If you spend time with people who constantly agree with what you have to say on everything, they will never challenge you or allow you room to learn so much more. And more importantly, learn more about yourself.
I found that from my travelling experiences, the less I owned the better. Being on the move with the Army meant I couldn’t bring a whole lot with me anyways. But I found the less I had on me, the better I felt. I didn’t feel grounded in anyway, even though I was there specifically to work and I had a tonne of other responsibilities. But I was happy with just some clothes, water, my iPod and my diary that I would write my thoughts in.
I couldn’t imagine owning a house, or having all of these purely materialistic objects or pressures on me while I’m trying to figure out the world, or trying to figure myself out. I wouldn’t be able for the anxiety of it all to be honest.
If you feel like you need to move; if you feel like there is somewhere you need to be, then go. You are not a tree.
The next time you hear a friend saying they are going travelling or they are moving to a different country, or you happen to have a conversation with a random stranger who is lucky enough to call the world their home – don’t be quick to judge, or worse, don’t be envious of them.
The world wasn’t made for people to be separated, it was made for all of us to live in it, wherever we want to.
Even if you can only get lost yourself a little bit at a time, do it!
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
J. R. R. Tolkien.