- To ramble without a definite purpose or objective; roam, rove, or stray
- To go aimlessly, indirectly or casually; meander
When I’m out there on the road, for work or on a personal getaway, I wander. It’s a chance to explore. I experience what I can, wherever I happen to land.
I’m rarely disappointed, to the point that I almost never feel that my time was wasted. There was no real plan, or complicated expectations in place after all. Sometimes I follow the advice of a stranger; at times I seek out a spot someone back home recommended. Very often I end up where I do, experiencing the jumbled combination of things I do, by chance.
Why do I do it? What do I hope to discover? Sometimes I wonder. . . am I seeking something that isn’t to be found “at home”? What’s going on at the end of the day, when I could easily head back to my hotel, alone with a pile of work, turn on reality TV, and order Chinese takeout? Yet I don’t.
I could just say that I don’t, and leave the topic alone. But really there’s much more to it – I just can’t!
Not everyone understands, or feels the same way. From time to time there is a bit of judgment from others, who observe my travels from the outside. They ask if I ever sit still, or more forcefully, “Can’t you ever just sit still?” They tell me how exhausting they find my travels and suggest I stop for a minute and take a breath, or a hot bath, and read a book.
Note: I do read books, and magazines, and academic journals, and travel stories. . . I come from a family of readers, and I’m starting a nonfiction book club in the New Year.
This time of year everyone is thinking of home, nesting almost, yet my travels continue. I’ll see Cleveland, Louisville & Pittsburgh in the month of December, before joining my extended family for the holidays in Chicago. It can be tiring, but then it’s incredibly exciting! Not everyone would be comfortable with this lifestyle. Somehow, at least for now, I am.
I write about Wanderlust. Is that itch to explore simply in my nature? Does it happen even when I’m at home?
Consider another definition of “Wander”: (of the mind, thoughts, desires, etc.) to take one direction or another without conscious intent or control
I let my mind wander, to do its own exploration, and allow creativity and experimentation to happen. That’s just part of being an artist, but there are also times I want to be in the moment.
And so I balance things out by practicing Mindfulness – I take art workshops and follow along with a guided practice of engaged, prolonged “looking” at complicated and puzzling artwork. I attend iRest Yoga Meditation sessions, and get lost in the moment, with soft music and the smell of lavender all around. In the moment I recall times of quiet, and awe, and celebration of my own exploration. I sleep in on a Sunday morning, stretching slowly and cuddled up, wrapped in warm blankets – it’s the kind of space you don’t want to get up from, except to indulge a craving for an Everything bagel, and leisurely cups of hazelnut coffee, sipped while reading the local paper.
But the itch to explore is still there, and I start searching the paper to discover local restaurants to try out, events going on, and performances I might take in. On a 4-day holiday weekend there’s time for it all! There’s time for family traditions, for great food and wine, for charity, for exploring a new trail, and even a football victory against that team “up North”.
So here’s a sampling of the places I’ve explored, and the adventures I have during a week at home. For me, these are Local Wanderings, and I am glad to have experienced them. . .
Headed to a holiday light show, with crowds filling the parking lot and hundreds (and hundreds) of Santas on display, you discover you didn’t leave nearly enough time to explore the 25+ miles of the nearby trail system. With sunset upon you, and the light fading fast, you know you will be back! Because there’s an amazing world to explore, right here at your doorstep.
There may not be anything especially exciting about a quick stop at the local pizza joint, unless you’ve helped rally friends, local and distant, to donate socks for the homeless, who will soon desperately need them.
You may have driven past a small wine shop dozens of times, intending to stop in one day. Because it’s Small Business Saturday you do stop, and you discover an amazing location that will open on a Monday evening so that your book club can meet there.
You visit the local community market, established in 1961, and you suddenly realize that’s more than half a century ago. There’s a lot of history, a strong community, and an explosion of local flavor. . . but you’ll only see it if you’re willing to get lost a little bit in your wanderings.
And for now, let’s just not talk about this other definition of “Wander”: (of a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment) to move about or walk in a seemingly aimless or random manner.
Ready for the Next Adventure!