I’ve been suffering lately from acute wanderlust. Not common wanderlust, not average wanderlust, not oh-I-need-a-vacation wanderlust. Acute. While the others manifest themselves, much like acid reflux, as fleeting pangs of unease, acute wanderlust is more akin to a terrible virus that’s been incubating for months and violently takes over your body.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Ugly crying at your cubicle as you see the pictures of that friend who opened up a smoothie shack in Bali, transferred to that exciting startup in Shanghai or eloped with that lesser Royal in Lake Cuomo.
- Smoking a cigarette with an air of tragedy about you as you wistfully remember youthful indiscretions in dinghy hostels. Bonus points if you aren’t actually a smoker.
- Spending a small fortune in ingredients to create that one perfect meal you had at an open-air market in Vietnam. The result: a sink full of dirty dishes and the bitter taste of regret.
- Seething hatred for The Man and experimentation with one of many failed political ideologies like anarchy, utopian communism, and at least one form of matriarchy.
The underlying cause:
- Contrary to popular belief, acute wanderlust has little to do with the actual desired destination. In fact, it may not even have to do with wanting to go on vacation.
- What is lurking, then, exactly? This is where it gets scary. Because if you wake up every day thinking you should be somewhere else then you should probably be somewhere else.
- Here is where we get deep. So get your drug of choice or, you know, some ice cream and ask yourself this: Where are you running away to? Better yet, what are you running away from?
- For temporary painkillers, I highly suggest planning one small getaway. Nothing crazy or expensive. Hell, even a day in a neighboring town can help. As long as it’s new and unexplored and will fill you with wonder. Or at least one WTF moment.
- Can’t even wing that? Turn to the massive amount of entertainment at our fingertips and immerse yourself in another world. Read travel narratives. Watch films set in other locations. Eat at a restaurant with international cuisine and pick something off the menu that you’ve never had. Practice your terrible French with a cute tourist.
- Write a list of all the things you’ve been meaning to do in your city and make it a point to cross out each item. Stop at busy intersections to gawk at something beautiful and get yelled at by locals for the full effect.
- A long-term solution, though, is to really uncover what you’re craving. Do you lust after the solitude of Patagonia? Maybe you need to simplify your lifestyle. Are you attracted to the hustle and bustle of New York? Perhaps it’s time you amped up your social calendar. Whatever a social calendar is. Does a single tear roll down your cheek when you see a bunch of dirty hippies enjoying a beach in Nicaragua? Then maybe you need to reassess what your priorities are.
And hey, maybe that acute wanderlust is an even bigger wake up call. I’ve noticed that mine flares up whenever I feel like I’m losing control of my life, when I’m letting myself be pushed around by external forces instead of taking active steps to achieve what I want. This whole year has been one long exercise in figuring out what I want. It’s starting to become clear that my nomadic personality might be stronger than I thought. Of course, the question is, what will I do about it?