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The Way of the Wanderer

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman

Me: Don’t become a wanderer, a traveler yes but never a wanderer.
Friend: But you have traveled to so many places.
Me: Yes, but I always returned home to face and enjoy life.

In today’s reality of “Living our Best Lives,” via vacations to exotic and frequent destinations, it’s easy to become fascinated by its appeal. Many years ago the popular TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” provided a sneak peek inside the glamorous lifestyles of the wealthy including their travels. Now, in this age of social media, these lifestyle elements are seen everywhere by less than wealthy and famous individuals. Our peers, friends, and even family have access to travel and vacations as they have become accessible for individuals from all income levels.

Sometimes we make assumptions about individuals based on their travels, but what appears may not be real. As a traveler for nearly fifteen years, I have a different point of view about vacations. Travel but don’t become a wanderer. Travelers vacation and recharge themselves, not running from obstacles but merely taking a rest from them. Alternatively, wanderers roam throughout life and the world lacking a permanent destination or goal.

Traveling is a rewarding experience with the potential to create “life-changing” benefits such as personal development /reflection, an understanding of different life perspectives from cultural interactions, and a knack for embracing uncertainty. All positive benefits if and when done correctly (Insert the exercise with caution clause here). If someone is overwhelmed by work, school, family, friends, etc., it’s great to take a break, reset life, and mentally escape. The next step is to return from your vacation, refreshed, energetic, and with the ability to add value to your current situations. Return, yes, that is the essence of travel, take the temporary relief from complacency or challenges. You deserve it.

I travel but always return to my life of normalcy. My most extended vacation was for two weeks to the other side of the world in Australia. While unplugged from everything, social media (Highly recommend fully disconnecting.) and all other distractions after a few days, my mind began to think about tasks to be completed. As a gainfully employed individual with personal and financial obligations, I enjoy responsibilities. Take recess, then back to reality is the motto.

Traveling is best when used as a form of rest from your current affairs of life. The intent is to pick a designated time to be in an atmosphere (Or by yourself) which eliminates the burdens of your mind. The traveler always returns to address their challenges, like a breath of fresh air. Travelers face life by actively engaging in it in all aspects, good and bad.

In contrast, the wanderer, on the other hand, is full of all the characteristics you expect from a fascinating traveler. These individuals are charismatic, fun, and entertaining. Wanderers usually have captivating stories of their Latin American escapades of narrowly escaping danger at the right moment by retrieving the correct Spanish accent or verbiage. It’s also their tales of backpacking through Europe or encountering a famous person, stories which make us want to hear more. Wanderers have numerous incredible life stories full of suspense and even magic. They are always in search of the next adventure and don’t want to “settle down.”

It was circa 2016 when I crossed paths with George from NYC during a flight layover in Mexico. George approached me to ask for a lighter and initiated conversation. He was engaging with jokes, colorful descriptions of situations, and a carefree attitude. He was on a detour from a year of travels. I learned a lot about this seemingly elusive individual as we waited for our flights, his to Peru and mine to Cuba. During the conversation, I received a glimpse into the life of this thirty-something-year-old. George’s father had passed away the previous year. They did not have a close relationship, although George mentioned he wished he knew more about his father’s life and upbringing. His comment made me reflect on how interesting it is that we can spend our entire lives with family members, yet live as strangers. George stated how he wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do with his life. He was considering working for his family-owned business although he wanted to “do his own thing.” There was an air of uncertainty both in conversation and in his life. As the gate agent called for flight boarders, I wished him good luck with his plans. “Where to next?” I asked. “Wherever the wind blows,” he said. Wanderer confirmed.

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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