People have the tendency to take on life with a sort of A to B kind of mindset. This is a mentality where when one begins something, and all they think about is finishing i: running a race thinking of the finish line, going to high school thinking of college, or going to college thinking of a job and no more classes. There is this endless and constant cycle of striving for things that we’ve got etched into our workings. This ideology is mostly a western ideal that we’ve been taught since we were young. If you ask an Easterner why they are going to college they are likely to respond with, “to learn”, whereas if you were to ask a Westerner they are more likely to respond with “to get a job”. This is a result of different environments, educations, and belief systems. Understanding the characteristics and differences of both societies can benefit our appreciation and learning.
I want to propose the concept of wandering as a cure to this rigid mentality we’ve been brought up within the Western world. Wandering, as described by the dictionary, is “traveling aimlessly from place to place”. It is exploring without a goal…just an open mind. This is uncomfortable at first because thoughts set in such as, “Am I wasting my time?” and “What’s the point of not having a reason to walk?” A part of it is quite unsettling because many places you come across will be unfamiliar and leave with you a sense of vulnerability. Though with time, you will learn intuitively that wandering breaks down the illusion of fear and you begin to become markedly more aware of your surroundings.
Ways in which one can wander include walking around your community, going for a hike on a nearby trail, or even traveling to a different city. Taking a break from your routine and introducing spontaneity into your life will make you feel alive. Plus, the world will begin to inspire you and augment your creativity. Take Henry David Thoreau for example, who said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Now you don’t have to abandon society completely and go live in the woods to reach this enlightenment, but perhaps try escaping every here and there. Let go. There is a marvelous book (that I highly recommend) called Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes that expresses the similarity between women and wolves. She writes, “Even in captivity, one can see in the eyes of a Woman, or a Wolf, the longing to run free, and the determination that should the opportunity arise, whoosh, they will be gone…”
On a personal account…once I began wandering I found my world widened and the stresses of life dissipated. I found myself becoming inebriated by the mere sights of abandoned buildings and cloud formations in the sky. Such things may seem petty or trivial, but in the grand scope of things, they represent the universe that created our very bones. Furthermore, ever since I began documenting my wanderings (on Instagram and VSCO), people have begun to give me a lot of praise. I get told that my life looks very exciting and adventurous, but in reality, I’m not doing anything exceedingly remarkable…I’m just stepping outside.
Dare to step outside and maybe even howl a bit. This is how you will be cured of all the worries rigidity and constant structure brings upon you. We were born wild. We are animals. We are here in the present moment. As my favorite philosopher Alan Watts, once said, “It [life] was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing and dance the whole time.”