Do you have wanderlust? I have and consider it rather like a friendly disease or benign addiction - or are they oxymorons?
Maud Parrish 1878-1976 (in Nine Pounds of Luggage) said “Wanderlust can be the most glorious thing in the world. Imagination is a grand stimulating thing, like a cocktail, but to find reality is the full course with champagne.” As she travelled around the world sixteen times (with very little luggage and a banjo) I imagine she knows all about both wanderlust and reality.
When I read the above quote I wondered, what do those words REALLY mean? Imagination, wanderlust, reality - they trip off the tongue so lightly and yet maybe when I say I have wanderlust you may not know what I mean, or, when you agree that yes, you too have it, maybe the attributes I give it - on your behalf - are way off beam.
Time for some market, or rather word, research: The Oxford Paperback Dictionary & Thesaurus (Oxford.1997) dictionary tells me that wanderlust is an ‘eagerness to travel or wander. Restlessness.’ Yep. Got that.
My eagerness takes the form of an obsession with travel programmes on television or radio, travel pages in magazines and press, in fact I even buy magazines with names such as Wanderlust, Sojourney, and NZ Wilderness. Why? So I can find new and exciting places to visit - places to add to my list - eager to get to places not well known. Restless when I feel trapped.
Goal planning, and goal achieving can be different things. So often the people who tell me, ‘You’re so lucky,’ also have dreams of travelling. But are they eager enough to do the necessary saving and budgeting at home in order to reap the benefits of being ‘lucky’ enough to travel? Usually not.
However I digress, back to the book of words: imagination. This evidently means having a ‘mental faculty of forming images of objects not present to senses.’ Guess that's me thinking of lazing on an Indian river, or viewing polar bears. Being able to see the dollar or two saved this week as a coffee on the West Bank in Paris. Yes, I have imagination too: imagination that my back will always be able to carry a pack on it and I will stay in good health.
I also checked wander and lust as separate words and I certainly qualify there. To wander is to ‘go from place to place aimlessly, diverge from the path.’ Well I have done that all my life, and travelling has not changed it at all. I love to get off the beaten track, in fact to be lost is ideal, that’s when the wonderful, the unexpected, the amazing, the different happens. As long as I am found one more time than I am lost, I know all is well.
Lust. Another word close to my heart. My trusty Oxford tells me it’s ‘passionate desire’. Well, been there, done that, still got it, intend to keep it - what else can I say. Passionate for travel, new places, new foods, people, and experiences.
And finally, last on my list of words to check reality. This seems to be the boring one, the one that people often accuse travellers of trying to escape from. Not so. This is what can separate the traveller (with time) from the tourist (on a schedule) as the dictionary says it is ‘what’s real or exists or underlies the appearances’.
How often I have made some assumptions about people, places, and things, about actions, beliefs, and religions by believing the appearances - what I think my eyes are telling me rather that waiting a little longer and seeing what is real. We humans love to have order in our lives so make up stories to make sense of things. However that does not make them real. Knowing the ‘truth’ is like having a secret shared and I value the people who I meet along the way who share their truths, and their realities, with me.
Nevertheless, ask three people to describe an accident they witnessed and each will be different. We experience things from within our own reality or context.
So do you have the wanderlust? Is your description of it the same as mine? There will be commonalties, and I suspect, for people with the overwhelming desire to wander aimlessly, most will not be seeking a cure.
I agree with you Maud, wanderlust is glorious, stimulating, and it sure does provide the meal of life with champagne-like bubbles.
© Heather Hapeta May 2008