Wanderlust, like many diseases, comes with its own symptoms and side effects. Like a plague, it comes down on some with a vengeance and may never be cured. It can leave those stricken with lifelong symptoms and years of money and time spent trying to diagnose the incurable disease.
It leaves children and adults impaired, unable to function properly through their daily routines many of us take for granted. Because, like any sickness, its side effects can be damaging.
The wanderer cannot help his or her sickness any more than someone with the common cold. It’s a bug that takes over and flushes itself through the system, yet this one refuses to leave after a few days of Emergen-C and hot water with lemon.
It’s damaging to the brain, the body and the mind; it takes hold and refuses to let go. It’s a disease inflicted by ourselves on ourselves, and there’s really nothing we can do about it, but hope to pacify the side effects.
We must learn to live with them, the way one learns to live with pain. It’s a constant ache that becomes part of our existence, like a bum leg. So for all of you trying to diagnose those aches and pains, here are the signs it’s probably just wanderlust.
The wanderer craves foreign lands the way a diabetic craves sugar. Though it may not be life or death, wanderers feel like a part of their soul is dying if they're not able to cross oceans or reach new lands.
This yearning is usually brought on after a trip or before, when it seems like their hearts are swollen with the promise of a new land or the remorse of leaving.
Itches You Can’t Scratch
No matter where you go, it will never be enough. The downfall to traveling is there will always be a place you haven’t been. This itch will follow you throughout your life, like a bad rash, the only ointment and relief will come from momentary trips and plans of new ones.
The itch will make people wonder where you’ve been, what you’ve touched and just exactly how you contracted it.
It’s hard to see the world when you’re always thinking about another one. Another side effect of the wanderer is an inability to enjoy the present moment because wanderers always want to be in another one.
Unless they are dancing in Ibiza or eating pizza in Rome, wanderers will never be satiated with the present and their vision will always be skewed by the things they could be doing and places they could be going. Their judgment of the present moment is constantly clouded, like a fog that sits over a gloomy city.
Engorged memories of better days fill the mind of the wanderer. Wanderers have no ability to cope with the present when they are constantly thinking about the past.
Memories of past trips will haunt them as they wish they could relive them, or at least try and find something to replace them. Their head feels swollen with memories, good times and better days.
The plight of the constant wanderer is the inability to afford medication. Like the costs of most vaccines prove, there is a high price to pay for health.
From airfares to hotels, the wanderer gets no help from insurance companies or the government, but must find a way to pay for all treatments out of pocket.
Disillusion and depression will forever be side effects of the wanderer who cannot wander. These people will never be happy where they are unless they are somewhere else and this keeps them in a state of discontent for most of their lives.
This side effect can be one of the most unbearable to live with, as wanderers live with the notion that life is always better somewhere else. This depression keeps them from enjoying all of life, mainly the parts that don't involve crossing oceans or visiting uncharted territories.
Fantasies, mirages and hallucinations plague the wanderer on a daily basis. Unable to stay awake and alert, these people dream with their eyes open and their realities compromised. They sleep in other worlds and are constantly berated for their inability to live in reality.
They do not know how to cope with the real world because they’d rather be living in another one. This can many times keep them from maintaining jobs, relationships and commitments.
Whether it's following the scent of Indian spices into a dangerous neighborhood or tracking down some local, but unsanitary fish that reminds them of their time in South Korea, the wanderer will do anything to feel the way he or she once felt.
Wanderers will cling to people, things and notions that they should no longer rely on so heavily. Their nostalgia overcomes them, squeezing their hearts until they are choking on feelings and memories of things they will never have again, or at least for a long time.
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