Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac
The Origins of my Wanderlust
I am an explorer at heart. Wherever I go, even if it’s someplace I’ve already been, I want to discover something new about it. The first time I left the country, I went to Montreal. For the first time, I had to get around in a place that had a language other than English on street signs and buildings. I had a French-speaking aunt as my guide, so it wasn’t even that hard. I don’t remember a lot about that trip, but I do know that I enjoyed the experience of doing something different and getting the hell out of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
By the time I was 15, I was dead set on going to college away from home. My first choice was UCLA. When I realized that out-of-state tuition was a thing and accepted that I was too lazy to get the A average necessary for a scholarship, I settled on a state school. I meandered my way into Penn State. I went straight to Main Campus, no less. How I managed to not flunk out is a miracle because I didn’t really get serious about my learning until junior year.
I have to say for all my horseshit shenanigans, going to school 3 and a half hours away from my hometown was the best thing I could have done for myself. I went out of my comfort zone and learned how to figure things out without someone to help me navigate. I came out of my shell and found my tribe.
Learning Lessons, Taking Memories, and Leaving Footprints
I have left where it was comfortable to do something different at least two more times in my life. 12 years ago, I left Lansdale again to move to West Chester, PA. After 10 years there, I moved to Georgia. Each time I moved was a turning point in my life, and I embraced the changes. I love learning a new place. I love adding to my tribe.
My travels have taught me many things. Getting lost walking around Paris taught me I can Forrest Gump my way through a lot. Going to Barcelona showed me there is a city outside the United States I could actually live in. On two different sojourns to the Caribbean with my mother, I learned that if I paid more attention to tradition I would be her, and if she allowed herself to be wild-at-heart, she would be me. More evidence that we are more alike than unalike.
These memories planted seeds in my heart for more. More experiences out of my comfort zone. More reminders of what a capable, competent woman I can be if I gave myself a chance.
In the places I have lived, I would like to think I made some sort of an impression, left a mark. Hopefully, I will continue to do that. Mostly I feel that travel or just leaving the place you were born is important for 3 crucial reasons:
1. To learn other people’s perspectives. When you don’t know something and don’t understand it, you are many times fearful of it. Living life in fear is no way to live. When you see how other people live, you might actually learn something and take away something of value for yourself.
2. To discover something new about yourself. You may learn something about yourself along the way. I just went to Asheville, NC recently. The universe drew me there to reflect. While I was hanging out at a bar, I was presented with two different snapshots of my personality sitting on either side of me. On the left side was someone just sad and content to be sad. On my right was someone who was just angry and hadn’t fully worked out why they were angry. I’ve been both of those people at different times in my life. I appreciate them both and why I was those personalities, but I don’t need them anymore.
3. Sometimes, it’s the only way to grow. I can say with 100% certainty that I would not be the person that I am today without my travels and without leaving the place where I grew up. When you stay in the same place physically, there’s a tendency to stay in the same place emotionally. You have the same myopic view all the time. That’s okay if you like the view, if it resonates with you. If it doesn’t, like in my case, it will stifle you. For me leaving the place I was born was the only way to go.
Where I will stay is anyone’s guess. Even when I do find a place I want to stay in, the wanderlust will come and go. One thing’s for sure: I will always climb the goddamn mountain.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer