Wanderlust: the desire to hike, if you want to get all Middle High German on the motion, which too few people do these days.
It’s a word that came up in conversation with my son during our travels last week. He certainly possesses that adventurous spirit and thirst to seek fresh fields and new experiences which defines the word in a more Modern English sense.
It’s also a word that has defined various aspects of my own life (and my son‘s mother’s life so it’s debatable which of us it might be handed down from). I was never constrained by finance nor halted by foreboding when I was a young man. If I wanted adventure and travel I threw some clothes in a bag, slung my guitar over my shoulder and stood by the side of the nearest moderately sized road with my thumb aloft.
Later other versions of travel and adventure were added in to the ongoing hitchhiking scenario. Gigging with bands and solo took me all over the place and the countless places I have briefly considered home accumulated at such a rate that thumb, bus, train and eventually my own vehicles took me back and back to visit old friends and reclaim lost pieces of myself.
A few ferries saw me wander further from my own shores than just a thumb could accommodate. Planes were never my friend but finally I have reached an understanding with them: they are faster and often cheaper than other alternatives when it comes to wandering to other countries.
My own wanderlust lay dormant, presumed dead, for almost a decade once my health began to more frequently and more obviously interrupt my life. My spirit diminished, my heart beat with less enthusiasm, my expectations of adventure shrank until I reached a stage three and a bit years ago when I doubted there was much point to the continuation of my existence if I were no longer capable of satisfying the need for travel and adventure that has shaped me so many years.
Therapy is a different sort of travel, a far more angst-tainted flavour of adventure. Yet without the support of two superb therapists in separate bursts over the last three years I might never have rediscovered the possibilities of satisfying my wanderlust again. The whole point to my youthful travels was that fear rarely walked beside me on those lonely roads. The whole problem with my physical issues is that fear and anxiety stalk almost every step.
And, always will. Therapy has not cured that, has not changed it one iota. But it has restore my determination to find ways to overcome fear in order to experience joy. I had to do the same thing as a young man when I was stumbling around, unaided save for a handful of dear friends, hoping to recover from a childhood high on anxiety and low on consistent safety. My methodology for recovering from such traumas back them was often traumatic in itself. Today I put myself through far less additional crap.
Acceptance is the key. When I remember that things are what they are, not necessarily as I would always prefer them to be, I can then remember to take as deep a breath as fucked up lungs allow and let my desire to go a-hiking loose anyway. Or a-flying. Or a-driving. Or a-boating. You get the idea.
The remainder of my life on this planet may mean very little to anybody else but me; I can’t do much and those skills I do possess and put out there for people to engage with are largely ignored even by those I might expect to show a little more interest in my self-expression (the curse of the Internet is that now it is obvious how very few people have any interest in my music or my writing). But if I can cram in a few more adventures before I fall back into dust and decay I will have passed my time as well as I know how.