Very recently, I got my first tattoo done – a childhood desire that kept getting put off for one reason or the other! When I eventually decided to dive right in and get it done, it didn’t take me long to figure out what it would be. I wasn’t sure how I’d like the experience – would it be painful? Would it be too much for a restless soul like me to sit still in one place for hours as my artist carved a portion of my skin out? What if it didn’t come out good and I was stuck with something I didn’t like, for a lifetime? So I went in for something I know I will permanently relate to; 10 letters that describe the person I have grown to become:
Very few people knew I was getting this done, until I had it permanently stamped on my wrist. The single most obvious question that follows with most people is usually along the lines of ‘What does it mean, and why this?’ (unless of course it’s coming from your disapproving parents, in which case it’s more likely to be on the lines of ‘WHYYYYY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS’)!
So, to answer that question, I think it is important to understand the etymology of the word in brief; of German origin, the term is seen as a characteristically German predilection for wandering that may be traced back to German Romanticism and the German system of apprenticeship (the journeyman). A modern usage of the word in the English language sways more towards being interpreted as ‘a crave for travel’. It is also interesting in some measure to note the social transition in the perception of the word; wanderlust in the 20th century, according to Robert Ezra Park was considered a trait both anti-social and in opposition of status values; whereas postmodernism considers it as more of a playful, empowering indulgence.
To me, Wanderlust is a hugely self-defining adjective, to the point of becoming a personality trait. In accordance with the accepted definition of the word, I’m immensely addicted to traveling, exploring and simply remaining on the move. Unfortunately, time and money largely restricts my organized travel escapades, but we shall speak about that in a separate post someday 🙂
Breaking away from the conventional meaning of the term, I believe wanderlust is also about escaping. Wanderlust is also about breaking out of your shackles. Have any of you ever felt like you’re stuck in limbo? Stuck in a place where you never felt like you belong? Stuck with people you never felt like you belong to? The place and the people may be your own and perfectly amazing, good beings but somehow it/they aren’t you – just not something you can relate to. Wanderlust for me, is also about breaking out of these loopy doldrums; about setting yourself free and seek what it is that truly fulfills your calling. The resulting exaltation is both liberating and consuming – and it is this very experience, this very emotion and this very being that I decided to coin as my ‘wanderlust‘ in my own right! What’s yours?
Somehow, this video explains it best:
We’re born to wander, aren’t we – W.B. Yeats
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