By Beth Winze
In lieu of my Ode to Summer, I think it is only fitting to address my obsession with travel. The adventure that lies in exploring an entirely different area, uncommon to yourself, is beautiful and thrilling. I have a restless heart that desires to exist in time and space it is not currently residing in. A heart, such as mine, will never be satisfied with seeing the same thing over and over again on a regular basis. My eyes search for a transformation in the landscape, my ears yearn to listen to varying sounds, my heart needs a new beat, and my feet desire a new road to walk on.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
Growing up, my parents force-ably (more or less) strapped us into our car seats and we traveled in our forest-green mini-van to all sorts of new places. Kansas, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and other such states. Sitting in my carseat in the van for endless hours allowed me to appreciate the stops we made to tour little things. My greatest memories in life are often spawned from adventures I have taken. My conversations usually start with “This one time, when I was in……” and they take-off from there. Not many memories that I treasure are of me sitting on the couch watching endless Netflix seasons. My heart clutches tight to the memories I have with family and friends in an environment outside of my normal routine.
Some of my greatest learning experiences have occurred because of my wanderlust. When I was little, my dad worked for a company that dealt with foreign countries regularly. My house became the resting spot for many of these traveling business people. And so my couch was no longer a couch while they were there, but it was a cushion in a Hindu temple, a canoe on the Amazon River, or a surfboard over Australian waves. I learned so much from these people during their extended stays. The Indian man that stayed with us told me all about his life in New Delhi and openly talked about his Hindu faith, while I, at the ripe age of 10, tried my best to explain my Christian faith. When the Australian came to stay with us, he told us of his visits to Steve Irwin’s zoo and all of the beautiful and deadly wildlife he had ever come across in his homeland. All of these cultural people that floated in and out of my life at varying times, created an innate desire to travel and grasp other cultures.
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
The most affluent people in my mind are not the ones that own luxuries beyond most people’s reach, but the persons who have traveled. These people are rich in the mind and emotions because of their travels. They know how to interact with people in a proper way due to their observations from other cultures. They know how to be diplomatic towards other countries’ cultures that are not our own. And their daily routines are varied and tend to be more flexible because going with the flow is something most learn to do while traveling. The seasoned traveler, in my mind, is the richest person by far, because of their unparalleled understanding procured through their gallivants.
The best part about having a serious case of wanderlust, is that I tend to look for a way to adventure anywhere. Whenever I am paired with the right person, adventure is usually not far behind. I do not even have to go further than the woods in my yard to explore and change up my monotonous routines.
My desire for wanderlust will not soon be quenched, but until than, I will continue to dream of far off places and exotic people until I can actually meet those destinations. So travel, explore, and adventure. Let the curious wanderlust-er inside you out!
“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
― Judith Thurman