Living Like a Wanderer
"There is a race of men that don't fit in, a race that can't sit still ... so they break the hearts of their family and roam the world at will."
When I was a little boy I remember reading this somewhere, but for the life of me I can't recall who wrote these words. But they have stuck with me ever since.
You see, I knew from a very early age that whatever was in store for me, my road would take me far from home. And for restless folks like me, there is a price to be paid in the realization of these yearnings.
Since leaving home at 17 I have lived in many places. I have travelled and have met many different people. You could say that I felt driven to "hit the road." And in doing so, much was gained. I'd like to think that interacting with all of these different folks has given me an opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in various classrooms into real-life situations.
But I have paid a price. For example, I have not had the chance to watch my nieces and nephews grow up. Photographs, phone calls and now e-mail, and the occasional visit have had to replace the type of face to face interaction that many families enjoy. And I do not see my parents as much as I would have liked. Sheer distance makes this difficult.
I am certain that some of my friends and acquaintances admire me for the road that I have taken. Yet I admire some of the ones that stayed behind, those that made their place in the world close to home and drove their roots deep near the ones they love.
But in our discussions on this subject we have reached the conclusion that we would have it no other way. For I had to wander, and they had to stay. And in doing so, we each paid our price.
No, it seems to me that no decision is without a price. And life is all about choices, and we do define ourselves by the choices that we make. Hopefully, if circumstance will allow, we can anticipate the price that will have to be paid and incorporate it into the decision making process.
And I do want to wander now. It is autumn in the US. There is a chill in the air. The leaves are falling from the trees and landing in my dooryard. Fog gathers low in the mountains each morning. And the leaves are changing colour high on the mountaintops. At this time, every year it becomes restless. For I am a wanderer. In my life, people and places come and go. Sometimes I feel like a clown in a travelling circus show, never quite certain where it is that I am, or where the next stop on this circuit will take me.
Yet, amazingly (at least to me), for eight years I have managed to remain in a tiny village in the US where I now live. And compared to the life that I've led prior to making the decision to "settle down," this is a striking contrast.
But at the moment I have to leave the road for a bit. And in doing so I have paid a price. Yet I feel pleased by my decision. And I am quite certain that at some point I shall take up the road again.
So here's to the decisions that we all must make. May we make them wisely, and apply them consistently. For the people who settle in one place, you have my respect. And as for my fellow wanderers, perhaps we shall one day meet upon the road.
(21st Century, October 11, 2001)