"Not all who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien
Why does it seem that the older we get, the less willing we are to wander?
I don't know if you've noticed it, but I've begun to see this in me lately and I don't like it.
What have I seen? Or to be honest, it's actually more that I've FELT it. And what I've felt has been two seemingly contradictory forces in me.
The first is a desire of a part of me to just stick to the familiar.
When left to myself, Jon will pretty much do the same things he's always done, go to the same places, think the same thoughts, etc. In the mornings I read the newspaper, sports section first (woe to the newsboy if he's 10 minutes late!). In class on Wednesday and Friday nights, I tend to only raise my hand to speak when I'm sure ahead of time what I'm going to say. After class, I go home and eat the same sandwich and watch the same TV shows ("Survivor" and "Gold Rush"). I take Izzy on the same walk around the block we've done 1000's of times. I'm happiest when other people are happy (with me or just in general), and I get irritated or upset when I think someone's unhappy with me, or I think I've made a mistake. It's as if Jon is the perfect expression of Newton's 1st Law of Motion: a body at rest, wanting to remain at rest, thank you very much.
But at the same time I've also noticed just the opposite at times when Jon is in full "I'm putting down roots right here in Camp Stuck-a-Muck mode".
I feel a real reluctance to sit still - like right now - and just wait, staring at the blank page, for what may come. Both physically and mentally a part of Jon is always on the move: gotta check my Facebook page; gotta check my e-mail; gotta jump up and go do the dishes; gotta think about what to fix for lunch; gotta worry about what I should be doing other than sitting here trying to write; gotta have a plan, gotta know what's happening next; gotta go work out... gotta, gotta, gotta, go...go...go... And there again, I'm the very embodiment of Newton's 1st Law, just reversed: a body in motion, wanting to remain in motion.
But to go where? To do what? Is any of this motion new or fresh? Or is it just being stuck in a familiar rut? A return to Point A from Point B? A loop of Self closed - comfortable once again in knowing itself as it always has known itself, just like Bilbo Baggins:
"Sorry! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea - any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!" (Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit)
And there it was - a revelation. Something I saw that I hadn't before. The Scurrier and the Sloth were both the same nature. Neither one of them were me, and that's why it was so valuable to just sit here until that came clearly to me. It's only in being able to see both sides of this Nature that I have a chance to live a new life, a fresh life.
That's the journey I'm meant to be taking. One whose wanderings will require me to sit still at times when a part of me just wants to go; and to get up and move myself when a part of me just wants to sit.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." (Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring)
Ah, but that's where real life is. I want to rekindle that little spark of "wanderlust" in me - the wish, and the challenge, to keep wanting to do, and think, and see something new.
Funny thing is...that's not the Pearl I expected to find when I first sat down to write today.
But that's the beauty of letting yourself wander. You never know what treasures you'll find.
I look forward to doing a little more wandering again soon.