When I look back on my life as a wanderer, I remember the events I chose and the ones that were out of my control.
I vividly recall plane tickets and passport stamps as clearly as the moving boxes and piles of leaves from my childhood.
Some of the most exciting and strangest moments of my life were when I embarked on an adventure into the unfamiliar or unknown: staring out the window on a train to Montreal, taking the scenic route and driving through Big Sur, packing up my couch-surfing life and moving from LA to San Francisco.
Some of my happiest memories came from these grand adventures.
I will never forget taking in the view of a city painted in autumn foliage from Mount Royal; standing at the edge of cliffs on California’s coast with a view of pure creation; and discovering my love for hiking among redwoods, rolling hills, banana slugs and cascading falls with a backdrop of the ocean.
My lifestyle has undoubtedly shaped my personality, and, as with most things in life, there are positives and negatives to a life on the run.
I feel a freedom most people would never understand, but the instability is unfulfilling at times.
From a young age, I learned not to plant roots, to be transient and to be temporary wherever I happened to be in the world.
Even as a child, I was brooding and pensive, and it was difficult for me to live in the present.
The more I traveled and moved around, the more I’ve been able to take a deep breath and just exist without anxiety about the future or hurt from the past.
While these “fully present” moments are still something I have to move toward, I’m experiencing them more and more every year.
My independence is fierce. I don’t wait for anyone to do things with me; it’s so much easier to just get in my car or book a ticket and go on an adventure.
Because of this, I experience new things every day.
During my time in Northern California, I went on a different hike almost every weekend I was in town.
When new experiences are just out of reach, chasing adventures can lead to extreme lows.
On the extremely rare occasion I didn’t leave San Francisco’s city limits in search of a new trail or physical activity on the weekend, I would start Monday morning incredibly grumpy instead of rejuvenated.
Netflix binges just don’t work for me unless part of the weekend can be spent outdoors.
Chasing the highs caused by the adrenaline of cliff jumping into a river, the endorphins of an 8-mile hike or the joy of trying a new outdoor sport can make the lows seem lower, as well.
When you’re used to experiencing intense forms of excitement, the crushing feelings of seclusion and depression seem amplified.
And, as a wanderer, not even the prettiest scenery can satiate the gaping holes of loneliness.
Being a transient means close relationships and established networks can at times feel nonexistent.
However, the relationships that mean the most are always maintained, even if communication is irregular.
I’ve always made time to talk to those who are important to me, whether by way of text message, phone call or email.
A lack of a “network” also makes it incredibly easy to pick up and leave. When I left LA, I knew which friends I’d keep in touch with, and a year later, I can say I did so successfully.
“FOMO” means something very different to a wanderer. You see the lives of people who are living more conventionally, and a small part of you might envy the “job security.”
It is certainly a less stressful path with fewer unknowns, but another part of you feels additional motivation to go to even more places for other new experiences.
Sometimes, you feel forgotten by some of those people who meant a lot to you.
You see how their lives continued on the paths they set out on, paths with which you converged for a time. You eventually deviate from their trails, leaving no mark in sight.
It becomes important to remember it’s your own path that matters, not anyone else’s.
The only option is to push forward with your head and heart in your present steps.
I might not know where I’ll be next week, next month or next year, but I fully expect this journey to continue having one hell of a view.