Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Friday, May 2, 2014

On wanderlust

wan·der·lust: a strong desire to travel

Wandern was my favorite word to learn in German. First, because it means to hike--and hiking is one of MY FAVORITE THINGS TO DO. (There's just something about using your own two legs to get to somewhere remote, some tiny piece of land that maybe nobody's stood on before, or maybe lots of people have stood on and experienced that same visceral thrill of awe and wonderment--it's a way to connect to God and to people and to nature.) Wo kann man wandern

But mostly because it has the word wander in it. There's a sense of mystery, of discovery, of the unknown in "wandering" vs. "walking". When you wander, you don't have to commit to any path or any destination--you just explore and experience. You soak in the journey. Where you go and how you get there is entirely up to you. 

Wandering is how I got to know the secret spaces on my undergrad campus--lunching in hidden spots in the woods overlooking the lake, sneaking backstage in the theater after-hours, and reading a book nestled among flowers. How I ended up reading Atlas Shrugged sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Rhine and walked through a cowfield in Switzerland. How I thought I might be killed by men with machetes in the mountains of Honduras and ended up making friends, and bonding over knitting with a Chinese woman at an outbuilding in the Summer Palace in Beijing. 

Wandering is the best.

It's both an escape and an opportunity. The way I see it, it's an escape from the safe and known into a chance for growth--and I'm all about that these days. And you don't have to jetset across the world to be able to scratch that itch to travel. (Of course, at the moment I have the inexplicable urge to hop on a plane to Paris.) Sometimes all it takes is looking at where you are with a fresh perspective. Strolling around the city you've lived in forever and taking a different way home, or driving down that street with a weird name, or stopping in the hole-in-the-wall to see what it's like.

Right now, I'm chafing at the bit to get to Denver and start settling into my new home--I've been waiting for so long for the next step in my life to finally materialize that I just want it to be HERE. I don't want to be patient anymore. But I'm trying to remember to take the time and wander--not just beeline for the destination.

For so many of my friends, they just want to know. They just want to know what their career is going to look like, who they're going to marry, what their life is going to look like, and they forget to take the time to wander. Me too.

Take the time to enjoy. Take the time to grow. Go placidly amid the noise and the haste.

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