I am afflicted with wanderlust. It is a malady I embrace with all of the passion within me. Merriam-Webster defines wanderlust as “a strong longing for or impulse towards wandering” which adequately describes my affliction.
It started when I was young and read about beautiful faraway places. I dreamed of those places and placed myself there mentally. I soon realized I had inherited this affliction from my father who always talked about his life in Baltimore while in the army, his travels to New York and to sunny southern California. This was an extraordinary achievement for a country boy who grew up in east Texas and traveled to these places when African-Americans were not welcomed everywhere.
Our family vacations consisted of road trips to visit relatives in Dallas which is an adventure driving through east Texas where the trees are so thick you have to “pump in daylight” as my father described it. We also had a road trip to Los Angeles once before the interstate (I-10) was enhanced and that required driving across Texas (Houston to El Paso) which is still a notable feat. As kids, we loved taking these steps out of our everyday lives to enjoy something different. My father’s favorite statement to us was, “See the world!” His command gave my wanderlust power even though my rational mind sometimes thought it was impossible.
Then life happened. Responsibility grabbed me. The pursuit of material things engulfed me. Life, responsibility, and pursuit became the antidote to my beloved affliction. I was able to subdue wanderlust and navigate apathetically through the daily grind. It all blew up when my father died.
Believe it or not, sometimes losing a person you truly love motivates you. The physical removal of that person from your presence can make your dreams leap from your pillow into reality. I decided to incorporate those things I loved about my Dad into my life. I allowed wanderlust to explode within me. The impossible became possible.
I made a bucket list of all the places I had read and dreamed about. I started traveling to those places to experience a slice of life there. I encouraged my family and friends to join me. Sometimes I would go alone. A sense of satisfaction always filled me when I returned home. For a few months, the normal routine of life would be bearable – until I did that first internet search on the next place on my bucket list. My bucket list is a “living” document and I think I will run out of life before I see all of the places that call to my heart.
Wanderlust has fueled many wonderful adventures for me. Wanderlust has brought me loving friends, beautiful vistas and memorable experiences. Wanderlust is a welcomed affliction in my life.
Have you ever been affected by wanderlust?