Wanderlust has hit again.  It started with a book (as it always does for me).  The Art of Non-Conformity, written by Chris Guillebeau.  A fantastic handbook on living a life outside the box.  The author himself is currently engaged in travelling to every country in the world.  Then, I read about the book, Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts.  Requested it from the library… read it until it was due (arghh).  Then, my husband brings home, Book Lust To Go by Nancy Pearl (arguably North America’s most famous living librarian).  It’s a book of travel booklists.

I love booklists.

I spent the weekend, first with a wonderful old friend that I had backpacked with 12 (twelve!) years ago, and with my parents, who are getting ready for a riverboat cruise in Europe.

It’s been enough to make my mind feel like a pinball machine.

So, I ask myself these questions: can a mother really travel with her kids?  (Yes, I know it can be done).  Can this mother really travel with her kids?  Should I even attempt it? (After “travelling” overnight to my parents with them, I feel exhausted and just a little daunted).

And, supposing I could, there would still be one problem… summed up by this quote I remember reading once, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  Which can mean many things to many people, but, to me, at this point, means just one thing.  You get on a plane, thinking to have the adventure of a lifetime, and when you get there, you discover you are still in your own shoes.  Still very much in your own mind.  You haven’t left one thing behind.  Oddly, the plane ride hasn’t changed you.

I distinctly remember having this feeling upon flying into Scotland (wait…thirteen!!?) years ago.  How very surreal it was to be in Scotland, and to still be me.  Feeling very much like me, in a different place.  I can only say, it was a bit unnerving.  Of course, I got used to it.  And the trip was amazing.  But, it lost just a touch of its magic by having me there… Am I making any sense?  Like it all felt too normal.  Too weirdly comfortable.

The contrast between the dreams and plans I had made, and the reality of myself.

I am older now, and I am prepared for this, what I am dubbing “the paradox of wanderlust.”  Lusting after an experience, something that forces us to step outside of ourselves.  Only, of course, there is no outside.  Only us in a new setting.  And, yes, there is change.  But, it happens gradually, on the inside.  In our hearts and minds.  It isn’t magic, but it is meaningful.

I’m pretty sure I’m rambling at this point (not entirely sure I’m even using the word paradox correctly).  Wondering if anyone else has experienced this themselves?  Or mulled on it?  And what does it mean to bring ourselves on our most anticipated adventures?  Are we dampened or enlightened by the company?  Next time, I’m hoping for the latter.  So, I’ll continue plodding along on the path to self-improvement.

Hey, besides, next time, I’ll be bringing two little souls with me, and I’ll take a gander that I won’t have many moments for quiet self-reflection.  If I’m lucky, I may not even notice I’m there.

So, I think I’ll end with the quote that brought all this on.  Thanks to Nancy Pearl for sharing it.  Although, I think I like myself a fair bit more than Ralph did himself, thankfully.

Traveling is a fool’s paradise… I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, I know at least one other person (and a person of consequence at that!) has felt the paradox (how I love literature).

If you’ve made it to the end here, thanks for bearing with me.  Comments are always appreciated!