“Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Years ago I had a running joke with one of my college roommates that began one brisk winter morning as I ran out the door with xc skis in hand.
“Where ya headed?” he asked.
“North” I replied with a smile and continued walking out the door without looking back.
From there the joke grew that if I ever failed to return one day he could tell people to look for me “up North somewhere”. “Where’s Tom? Oh he headed North”. That sort of thing. Usually I returned.
I hadn’t really thought about it much in the past ohhh 25 years or so but this morning as I drove to work on yet another placid (for Maine) early winter morning, again the urge to head North kicked in. The weather has been unseasonably warm so far this season.
It began with an urge to just keep driving until I find snow, then watch the road signs turn to French (note to self: bring passport to work tomorrow in case the feeling returns). Reach the Chic Chocs of Quebec by sundown and sleep in the car. Maybe bang a right from there and head to Newfoundland by ferry. Or go left and cross the St Lawrence then drive to James Bay, just go somewhere cold and lonely and watch the frost creep across the land from the driver’s seat as the feeble winter day spreads across the horizon.
Use my seven words of French to conduct a conversation, just get lost in the landscape with no particular place to be or go. To have no plan other than to just “go” wherever and “be” whatever the hell the universe asks at that particular moment. The wandering need not have a point other than latitude and longitude to describe it – and even then why bother try as it’s constantly in flux like light through a window. Just migrate like a caribou herd across the land; go like I know where I’m going because in the end we all KNOW where we’re headed no matter how lost we may feel at times. The daily journey doesn’t need to be to an office to work, or worse yet in the evening to a couch to watch the hours pass punctuated by commercial breaks. Wanderlust has no bounds, only constraints bounded by the topography of your brain (and maybe continents, if that).
Fighting wanderlust is like trying to wring the neck of a zen master made out of water balloons (the one who keeps asking those annoying questions), and just as futile. Some people are plain born to wander, and this morning I wanted to go. I’m not quite sure how I made it into work.
Somehow I summoned the courage to go through the motions required to enter the office door, then banged out these 400+ words in frustration on my lunch break. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a victory or a defeat.
But the truth is most of the day I’ve been up North.
If you want to read about some real wanderlust check this guy out BikeHikeSafari