A brief meditation on restlessness, roots, and pondering one's nature
Nice one Andy. I hear you—I have been a wanderer, avoiding, escaping, not settling, trying to leave, wanting to leave, planning to leave, since day one too—and three, for that matter. I am one of the restless ones as well—and it was partly inherited from my parents—and—and, it was also partly trying to escape, to get away from my parents, to get away from the emptiness that felt at home, to get away from how alone I felt even in my home city of San Francisco, to get away from how I was feeling. Searching for _something_ that might change how I felt. And it did... And yet, here, now, not quite at the end but somewhere in the middle, I find myself back at home, again, and after yet another period of full-nomad wandering, rooted more than ever (even if my home is a floating houseboat!). I find it calming, joyful—and I'm still conflicted. I still want to split, all the time—but then I remember how exhausting all that leaving was. How it's exciting, and also much harder to date a woman in Madrid rather than have a partner who lives just up the road. How it's exciting to plan trips—and how, in recent years, I cancelled a number of trips at the last minute, feeling nauseous and sad, not wanting to leave.
I'm a firm believer that we find ourselves along the way, that the journey is the path, and that—much as you write—that **we're here to be ourselves as much as possible.** I used to think, or feel, because it was more unconscious, that I had to leave to go anywhere. As I return to myself more and more I find that freedom more within. It's also true that as I dedicate myself more and more to writing, I find that just about anything else is a distraction—although I do hope and plan to eventually reunite the two, that is, to travel and to write... I have to get a book done first!
I've written about this a bit in The False Grail https://decidenothing.substack.com/p/the-false-grail
If you love Muir, I heartily recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's The High Sierra: A Love Story — just a brilliant read for any lover of the mountains, the Sierra in particular. As it happens, I'll be interviewing him on Tuesday for my podcast. Stay tuned (and thanks for the recommendation!) → https://decidenothing.substack.com
“As exciting as it may be to travel on the physical plane, the distance of land on earth is a minor stain compared to the infinite vastness in our minds. It turns out that I crave exploration of inner space as much as I episodically adventure into outer space. It’s that invisible force to seek that led me to my writing. “
^^ inner space is way more interesting to me than anything on the physical plane. I’m sooooo grateful I found your work. When I read your words they feel straight “channeled” from that invisible force Andy. 💫✨
I loved this post, Andy! I read it this week after coming back from Costa Rica and before I leave for the Sahara in Morocco with my four year old next week. As a lifelong international traveler and wanderer, when I confront the question of "Am I running away from something? Or is this part of my nature?" I always think about choice. "Is there compulsion and addictive behavior driving my actions? Or do I have the capacity, the choice to do otherwise (stay still, plant down)?" I also love thinking, too, about this question: "Can be both firmly rooted and still design a life that physically and psychologically lets me wander and feel free?" (my current goal) Hope you have an amazing time in London and can't wait to hear more about that mental health project! :)
The poodle owner in me loves "Travels With Charley." I can tell you that "ffft" is the sound of poodle ownership and they all know how to use it to communicate their dislike of whatever it is you ask them to do. Owning a Pood made me a better dog owner: they won't do jack unless you show them how it's in their best interest. You can't force them. They DGAF. Great book.
"'Growing up' is to become the unique individual you were before the world told you who to be." I love this because I can see that you're also on this journey of growing up (again). I think it's inspiring to see it in a post like this. Hope you're having a wonderful time Andy!
Thank you for this thoughtful and beautiful piece. I had never read that John Muir quote before - exactly resonant. Safe travels and thank you again :)
Thank you for sharing such beautiful thought, and more importantly, questions we should all ask ourselves.
Your article is deeply resonating with me. As a first generation immigrant to the States, I am too, a restless one. I have earned the career success by many measures but I have not found the true sense of fulfillment - I felt, restless. On a worse day, stressed.
So a few years ago, I started to ask myself the same question, 'Am I who I am today because of me? OR what others expect of me?' . I think I am in a more harmonious state with myself now, though I know I am still a work-in-progress.
A delightful read. Think I will reframe my restlessness as more of an intrepid pursuit of purpose and it’s pulling me in an ever evolving and dynamic directions is just part of the adult journey. Still, I’m reminded of a line from “Fleishman is in trouble” where Rachel, who’s had to pull herself up and define her own trajectory to get ahead in the world informs her husband (Toby), a hepatologist, that in no way can he know her plight as a talent agent that worked herself up to head her own wildly successful agency. In short, her claim is everything has been laid out for him since he was an undergrad as he’s a doctor. Not to say his life can’t divert from its course, but the comfort and ease in settling for what’s charted for you as opposed to what you have to creatively navigate and redefine at every turn, those are two different things. Still, is it that some people are drawn to this fluid existence or that its circumstance? If Rachel’s parents had invested in her and groomed her to become a doctor, would she have chosen Toby’s path?