I used to consider myself a wanderer. By “wanderer”, I don’t mean the cute “wanderlust” kind of way that Instagram and Pinterest boards are all filled with. I mean “wanderer” in more of a “I-have-trouble-putting-down-roots” kind of way. As with many glitches in my personality, I blame my missionary kid upbringing for this. When you move around as much as we did back then, it was simply easier to stay detached, to always hold on to only the bare essentials, to be ready to drop everything in a moment’s notice and move.
I overcompensated by training myself to always look forward to new places, to new cultures to be immersed in, to the excitement and uncertainty of traveling. This mechanism birthed a tendency in me to get bored with places easily. Staying more than a year in one spot makes me restless. Once, I literally made my parents move me to another school just because I’m not “feeling it” anymore. From age 7 to 17, my family never stayed in the same city for more than 2 years. When I was 17, my family moved to Southern California. I have been LA for seven years now. I’m getting antsy.
We still took trips even when we moved to America – camping under the redwoods in Sequoia, road trips to see the Canyons in Arizona and Utah, walking down the streets of NYC and Philadelphia, etc. But they were short trips now, family vacations that we couldn’t afford when I was younger. I enjoyed those all immensely but they were breaks from the norm. I always looked forward to going home to LA.
There’s that word – “home”. So strange.
This past month has had me reminiscing about my “old life”. About how it is that I have managed to stay put for so long. There are obvious reasons of course – growing older, settling down. But the dormant wanderer in me has awakened. I’m getting restless again. Maybe it was our recent trip to phenomenal Big Sur. Maybe it’s the excitement of back-to-back trips to Las Vegas and Philadelphia I have this next week. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re moving apartments and I’ve spent the last 2 weeks packing every material possession we have into boxes and bags and constantly kicking myself for having too many “necessities” (that’s a whole other post).
Maybe I’ve just been in LA for too long.
I love LA. The wanderer in me has been put to sleep by the years I have living in its beautifully mundane San Fernando Valley. I have such fond memories in it: late-night conversations at that Denny’s, picking up my little sister from kindergarten, our wedding in West Hills, our last years with Papa on Sepulveda Blvd. When you have enough memories, enough comforts, enough people – they start to take root. I’ve put down roots here. No, it’s not that. I’m comfortable here. LA has taken root in me.
My nomadic mindset hasn’t always worked in my favor, but it has always kept me on my toes. It meant that I stayed detached from the things and places that would hold me back from my pursuit of God’s call in my life and my family’s. There’s no such thing on earth as a true home for a Christ-follower. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote one of my favorite passages in all of literature – “Not all who wander are lost.” Maybe those who stay in one place are lost – if it’s the wrong place. After all, isn’t being unable to find one’s way, the right way, the very definition of lost? To “wander with aim” is perhaps a contradiction. But I don’t want to “stay without aim” either. When we have stayed in a single place, but have lost direction somehow, what does that make us?
The aim should be on things above. The heavenly. The immortal. Ultimately, it’s not being in this city or the next, it’s about knowing the will of God and making sure we are in the center of it. To never be too comfortable that you just stop trying. To never be too attached that you cannot let go. To never gain the world but lose your soul. I imagine it’s a constant, lifetime challenge. But I am uneasy now. I’m on the edge again – and that’s a good thing.
The desire to travel is within all of us. I believe that desire, along with the sense of eternity, is something placed in our hearts to compel us to search for where we really belong. The wanderer in me has awakened. The nomad in me says, “You’re not supposed to get comfortable here. You’re just passing by.” The traveler in me says, “Bear fruit where you are planted. But make sure you are planted in the right place.” My father’s daughter says, “Pack light. Or the ship will sink before you get there“.
I also hear my husband’s voice: “Why do you need 3 of the exact same serving dish?” Wait. That’s not just in my head.
My jumbled thoughts are in 3 different places today. But I choose to set my heart and eyes on what is above. Following Jesus is the adventure of this lifetime and the next. Whether it be staying in one spot or roaming from place to place, where His will is, it is there we hope to be. Contrary to what those Pinterest quotes are telling me, life is about the destination and it’s the destination that makes the journey enjoyable and worthwhile.
God speed fellow traveler.
All photos taken by Louriz Soriano.