The Wanderer

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer by Krista on March 19, 2014: What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

“What is your quest?”
“I search for the Grail.”

I used to believe I was a wanderer, a traveler, never settling. My friends would say I’ve been out there more than most, but I wonder about that. It seems I’ve stayed at home a lot, making a living.

I just want exposure, Peter! Don’t you understand? I want to see the world!”
“You’ve already had more exposure than most people will have in their lives and you’ve never been anywhere.”
“You have so you know that! I haven’t. How can I know?”
“There’s nothing out there any different from here.”

This desperate longing for faraway places began in me when I was a little kid, reading Seven League Boots by Richard Halliburton. I sat on the back porch of a short train crossing Wyoming. When I got my chance years and years later to go somewhere, finally, it was China. My thesis adviser, by then my friend, said, “What dark night of the soul makes you want to live in Dickens’ China?”
“I want to see the world,” I told him.
“‘“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…'” he replied. “That’s John Milton, Martha.”

I’m up early this morning preparing for a trip. I awoke thinking of what it was like to go to Europe, just ten years ago. Pack a bag, hope for the best, arrive and? Well, you can plan yourself silly, but plans are like wishes; they don’t come true, and if you’re a true traveler you know that. Plans — beyond the necessary — just keep you at home, keep you from arriving in any new place. “It is necessary to travel. It is not necessary to live.”

“You can’t get there from here.” Always true. The “there” in your mind is never there. In the going, you change and what you imagined changes with you.

This journey? Ah…just as we wander through life, life wanders through us, and time. We manipulate the future by traveling. Jack Kerouac said (something like), “90 percent of Americans try to solve their problems by going on the road.” In medieval times, such journeys were to sacred places, pilgrimages, the intentional quest for forgiveness in an act of penance, transformation. Travel relieves us of ourselves. My journey this morning will not be that kind of journey. I’m going in the other direction, but still, as with all journeys, it is a journey into the future. I hope I learn what I need to know.

Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.
The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,

I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

and

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7 thoughts on “The Wanderer

  1. cannot agree more: the bestest things happened to me were all without planning and the same goes to travelling. packing my bag too and the first month is roughly planned out but from there i will again see the world or the world see me and hopefully those countries will like me.

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