The Ways of Wanderlust

Oh, how travel has captured my heart!

I have been carefully learning the lessons it provides since my youth. My mother organized trips for me to visit relatives.  These safe close-to-home experiences influenced me in a positive way.  They made me realize the importance of joining with something larger than myself, larger than my immediate family.  It was while I was away from my home base that wandering became a way of life for me.  This was the nascent gathering of my connectivity and my burgeoning curiosity.

To roam.

To explore.

To discover.

To learn.

When I roam, with every step away from home, there is a deviation from my norm that takes place and quietly grows with every mile.  It makes me feel alive. I’ve begun to understand there is never a right time to wander. I have to dare to jump…and jump I do.

When I explore, I collect information.

When I discover, I meet new people.  I experience diverse cultures and customs and appreciate the different belief systems in the world and this realization frees me from the trap of the comfort of sameness.

When I learn, I develop as a human being.  I acquire new ways of thinking that allow me to see what works and what does not in my life.

I pursue these actions because of my wanderlusting ways. I have learned time after time that new encounters and opportunities for growth will never materialize in the safety zone of what I know.  My mom packed my suitcases hoping my visits to see my aunt and uncle in Colorado or my grandmother in Florida would bring new perspectives and experiences to my young senses.  As a result, I continue to look for unfamiliar circumstances, and now I pack my own bags to explore the globe.

To stall.

To wait.

To stay.

To wish.

When I stall, there is fear of the possibility I will never make memories in different corners of the world.  My chances for self-discovery diminish.

When I wait, there is a missed opportunity to participate in this big world I live in.  How silly to hold myself back and not go somewhere I have always wanted to go –outside the confines of my mind.

When I stay, there is no expansion.  If I do not venture outside my fences of familiarity, there is a chance life will become predictable and lack liveliness.  I will be happier if I make the choice to go.

When I wish, I am already wandering.  I never want my regret to sneak in and steal my travel desires from me.  It would be unfortunate to not take chances and later learn I was sorry for not taking them.

These four inactions diminish my existence.  They stunt my growth.  I will not allow any failure to act – shrink my cultural intelligence.

Traveling feeds my free spirit.  I crave the thrill of venturing into the unknown.  I long to see new things.  I like watching people in their environments.  I want to see the differences of their everyday existence compared to mine.  I must accept my innermost desire to learn and grow.  When I ignore this yearning for adventurous acts, my heart aches.  I would miss the richness that I search for and find in each moment of my travels; I would miss the search itself.

I relish smelling a potpourri of aromas while walking into the spice bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.  These fragrances cannot be replicated and are inextricably attached to their exotic location.  The colorful stalls overflowing with countless mounds of herbs, dried fruits and varietals of Turkish delight.  The bouquet of flavors fills the air while vendors wait for me to take home their prized merchandises.  Apple tea was my singular selection.

The fluidity and finesse of the Romance languages is an art form to admire.  I hear varying dialects and elongated sentences. They resonate in my mind when I recall wandering through a café in Seville, Spain or retro bistros in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

When I see the monstrous Rapa Nui statues in Easter Island, they make me ponder my existence. The various legends connected to these enormous moai figures are extraordinary. Their majestic and mystical habit of standing erect protects the island in ways we can never imagine. They are unbelievably captivating.

The chocolate tartufo in Florence, Italy was an experience that left my taste buds wanting more.  This circular, ice cream dessert with its chocolate shell and delightful flavor overwhelms my senses.  I crave its creaminess.  This delicacy cannot be reproduced in my kitchen, with great dismay.

The Auschwitz concentration camps I toured in Poland affected me deeply.  A reflective sorrow and shock continues to this day permeating through my being.  A sacrifice occurred there that I will never understand and not ever forget.

These international experiences continue to influence me and I long for more.  I am left escaping the mundane of my everyday thoughts to the wonders of the world I have seen, already anxious for the next adventure.  There is beauty hidden everywhere, often in the most unusual places. I must continue to connect with something larger than myself in order to feel alive.  I challenge you to pack your bags and find your own ways of wanderlust.

Published at Life As A Human on April 2, 2015

©April 2015 Shannon Hogan Cohen


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