Many people feel wanderlust, that is, a strong desire to wander, travel, and explore the world. But I learned a long time ago that it’s not the going that most of us desire, rather the doing. And that it is possible to explore these cravings and similar bliss without ever leaving home.
Finding Wanderlust at Home
Fortunately, I’m blessed to have many different cultures of people living in my country. I am of Nordic (Norwegian, Welsh, and Swedish) descent. But I also have several Mexican, African, Native American, and Pilipino (Filipino) people within my family who often practice their native traditions. Spending time with my loved ones and friends and sharing in their experiences allows me to explore some of the diverse beauty of the world. I realize this type of interaction is minute compared to traveling, visiting, or living in other countries, but the satisfaction is still there.
Besides tasting many of the foods and flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Indian, and Italian cultures, I’ve also studied some popular forms of art, crafting, literature, dance, and music from the same. I’ve attended several Spanish dances and quinceañera parties with family, and I’ve danced and sang with Hare Krishnas, Native Americans, Africans, and Aborigines at local culture fests.
Is Wanderlust a Mental Illness?
It’s common for people to think wanderlust is a positive word to describe a person who always wants to be on the go, travel, and try new things, but not everyone agrees. Some studies show that wanderlust is a negative word because it produces an unhealthy balance, including a lack of mindfulness in a person’s mind. Research shows that wanderlust could stem from having a restrictive childhood and lead to a young adult rebelling and needing to spread his or her wings and fly, which isn’t always a healthy decision.
In German, the word fernweh means “farsickness” and is the opposite of homesickness. Fernweh represents feelings of pain and woe, which can lead to melancholy and unintentional suffering.
According to Wikipedia, dromomania, or the intense need to walk, wander, or travel was a psychiatric diagnosis in the 19th and 20th centuries. And more recent studies link wanderlust to symptoms of bipolar disorder depression because of its extreme longing for the unseen.
Appreciate What You Already Have
I don’t think wanderlust is either positive or negative; it’s just a word. A word that people give meaning through their thoughts and actions. It’s O.K. to yearn for something we don’t have, such as time and money to travel, but balance is necessary. And there needs to be an appreciation for who and what we already have in our lives. Spending time with our family and making friends from other cultures could be one of the easiest ways to help counter any negative feelings of wanderlust. Don’t be afraid to reach out through cultural fests, community programs, and show your support for local organizations.
Creativity is My Wanderlust
As strange as it may sound, I’ve never been much for traveling. Sure, I don’t mind visiting other places, trying new experiences, or exploring nature, but I am just as much a homebody. But to me, there’s nothing better than eating a home-cooked meal next to a fire or settling down in my sweatpants and watching a movie with a loved one.
So, how can a person like me still fulfill their wanderlust but in a positive and balanced way? Get your hands dirty. Digging in the dirt for rocks and gemstones. Metal detecting. Gardening. Fixing greasy things. Working with clay, wood, or metal. Cooking, baking, crafting, and painting—this is my wanderlust. Creativity is my wanderlust. It’s how I travel, explore, and feel the world within my hands. It’s how I absorb the world’s cultural energy and share in its timeless knowledge.
As I mentioned before, every longing needs balance, so creativity is how I practice mindfulness and exercise present moment awareness. I smell the dirt. I taste the food. And I learn how other families and cultures do things while still appreciating the uniqueness of my own.
“You don’t have to see the world to be worldly. Just raise good children, bake good enough pies, and the world will come right to your kitchen window.”
~ Florida Georgia Line ~