I have wanderlust and no it is not a disease though some will label it as such.   It has taken me a lifetime to recognize and value my affliction. Usually I hide my condition behind well-constructed socially sanctioned stories such as the need to care for a relative or travel for a new job.

Last week I felt the urge again.   This time the desire to be true to my nature permitted me to announce my intention without a cover story. I am a single mature adult after all. I do not need to ask permission or make excuses.


            In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost.”

It was an old friend who gave me the label – WANDERLUST.   When I protested feeling it was a derogatory description, she suggested the image of a butterfly.


Though she prefers to be bound to a fixed address, she recognizes and acceptances my wings.   She encouraged me to do the same.

One definition of wanderlust reflects my outlook – “An intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, confronting unforeseen challenges, getting to know unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and behaviors”.

My search of the literature has also revealed kindred sentiments.

“The old wanderlust had got into his blood, the joy of the unbound life, the joy of seeking, of hoping without limit.” The Jungle by Sinclair, Upton


“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.” ― Roman Payne, The Wanderess


“I may stay here in this town another day or I may go on to another town. No one knows where I am. I am taking this bath in life, as you see, and when I have had enough of it I shall go home feeling refreshed.” ― Sherwood Anderson, Death in the Woods and Other Stories

“That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost. The word ‘lost’ comes from the old Norse ‘los’ meaning the disbanding of an army…I worry now that people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know…


A recent article about the return of wildlife to suburbia described snow-covered yards in which the footprints of animals are abundant and those of children are entirely absent. Children seldom roam, even in the safest places… I wonder what will come of placing this generation under house arrest.”

“I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…nights alone in motels in remote western towns where I know no one and no one I know knows where I am, nights with strange paintings and floral spreads and cable television that furnish a reprieve from my own biography, when … I have lost myself though I know where I am. Moments when I say to myself as feet or car clear a crest or round a bend; I have never seen this place before. Times when some architectural detail on vista that has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.”

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost






2 responses »

  1. I love this post, Dianne. My mother had wanderlust (she desperately sought a reprieve from her own biography) and I resented her for it when I was young. I didn’t want to be “the new kid” all the time. Now that I’m older I understand my mother’s inclination. And I find that I’ve developed my own wanderlust in line with the terms in which you speak. Thanks for the post and the great quotes. Here’s to being the new kid and experiencing the unknown.


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