I was a boy, waiting in the rain for my time to leave. Now I’m a man, using my time to live.
For a moment, take yourself back to when you would go to the mall as a child. Just about every time you’d go, you’d see something you wanted—and I don’t mean ‘wanted’ like, “I wanted hot fudge but was happy with caramel.” I mean ‘wanted’ like “I wanted that toy like Ceasar wanted good friends.”
You’d beg whomever you were with, resorting to any means necessary to get that toy. You’d cry and throw a fit; you’d make a scene and force whoever you were with to stop what they were doing and cater to you.
Having wanderlust is like having that unerring want all the time. A desire so strong that it bridges onto need. Imagine being an adult and getting that feeling every time you look out the window, or imagine a distant place.
I used to feel wanderlust every minute of every day; longing for the natural world to reach up and pull me in. I used to want to see every corner of the world; every rock formation and storm; every river and lake and tree and creature; every hill and mountain and sinkhole— I wanted it all.
Noticing the use of past tense? How, then, could a desire so intense just vanish?
How can one day, I wake up wanting the opposite of what I have, and the next day, be content with it?
In life, the decisions we are faced with and the choices we make are governed by a single rule: We either act out of desire for something, or we act out of fear of something else.
Think about your daily life. Every decision you make is made this way. You either desire, or you fear.
You brush your teeth because you desire them to be clean, or you are afraid of them rotting and falling out. You dress yourself nicely because you desire to look good and to get praise, or you fear judgment and ridicule. You eat an apple with lunch because you desire to be healthy, or because you fear the calorie count in a Zebra Cake.
After years of longing for the open road; after coming so close to leaving that I was mere minutes from selling my car and buying a plane ticket; after spending my life paying off debt and searching for a reason to stay here: I have finally found that reason.
Last week I sat down with some colleagues of mine and we had a discussion about the young adult man in the twenty-first century, specifically the one in his twenties right now, as the three of us are. The conversation took place between a writer, a father, and a computer programmer. All of us fall into the same financial window of lower-middle class. It surprised me that when I asked my colleagues what they truly wanted out of their lives, they both just shrugged and smiled. One remarked, “I hate my job. Boring as sin. But it allows me to have the life I want. I work from home on Fridays. I get to spend my nights and weekends playing games and spending time with my girlfriend. We go out when we want. Travel when we want. I’m not big on going places ,so this is perfect for me.” The other, “I’m a dad now. Things are different. My son comes first and as long as he is in my life, I don’t need much else.”
I have never been content with simplicity. My whole life has been a constant search for complication; something to challenge me and keep me going on a daily basis. I was never really ‘put to the test’ in school; there wasn’t a single obstacle I couldn’t overcome. High school was boring. College was trying on my time, but also boring. My childhood was devoid of emotional attachment and personal connection. Both of my parents were violent alcoholics and my sister, three years younger than me, began drinking at the age of thirteen.
I had nothing that moved me: no wonder, no adventure, and most of all, no love. Out of this environment, and a burning desire for something more, grew an insatiable case of wanderlust.
Take yourself back for a moment, to that mall as a child. You are walking with your grandmother and you see in a shop window that toy you wanted more than anything in the world! You look up to your grandma, but she isn’t slowing down. As you approach the passing store and it’s steadily becoming clearer and clearer that you won’t be leaving with that toy today, you can feel the tears start to well up in your eyes. As you are about to start crying, something else catches your eye. It’s a poster. On it is something that takes you by surprise— something you didn’t even know you wanted.
You can’t remember what it was in the shop window that peaked your interest; all you can think about now is this poster.
It’s haunting you. Your grandmother takes you home and for weeks all you do is day dream about it, imagining yourself with it; and soon enough, you are back at the mall. You walk by that same store and see that same toy in the window that you wanted so badly the last time you were here. But this time, when you see it, you feel nothing. You look past it on your quest for the poster. Trying to gleam another glimpse of that secret, unattainable item.
We are creatures of desire.
What we want in life, we want either because we desire something or because we are afraid of something else.
I realize now that my wanderlust was a child. He yearned and dreamed to explore a world where no one loved him and no one wanted him around. He desired freedom and the chance to make his name matter, instead of making sure he mattered to his name. He sought a solution to the pollution he felt and knew of no other way cleanse it than with the experience of the world. He was afraid— afraid of being alone, afraid of crying himself to sleep, afraid of never having a family, or knowing what one was like.
This was my youth. I did not know the love that I know now. I shook with a tremulous fear, and fled from my decisions with haste. Now I burn with desire. I am loved by my friends and family. I long to remain and to cherish what I have. There is no need to run anymore. My curiosity for the world has been overpowered by my desire for a family.
I was a boy who stood outside too long hoping and dreaming and waiting for his opportunity to go. I waited so long that it began to rain, and the dreams I thought I had dreamt began to rust. As a man, I see everything worth living for within my grasp. The ones I love, the things I need— they are all near me.
Someone I once was yearned to see the world, but he is long gone— out on his adventure I can only assume. The man who stands in his place is a much different man. One who burns with the desire for adventure, but an adventure to be shared and not taken alone.
This is week 7 of my 52 week challenge to completely change the way I live my life! If you are thinking about doing something similar and want some ideas, read the other previous installments here: Dyllon Charron!
Photo: Flickr/ Huong Thao