The Restless In Between: 5 ways to take the edge off of wanderlust

17Nov09

What can you do when Giant Purple African Fire Ants (which you turn out to be wildly allergic to) have taken up residence in your britches and a once-comfortable tinge of the travel bug has turned into a Class IX Code Mayday infestation?  Well, a chronic sufferer of ANP (Ants ‘N Pants) Syndrome myself, I have compiled a list of five simple activities which can help relieve any uncomfortable symptoms (including difficulty concentrating, tingling in legs and arms, unhealthy amounts of time spent reading National Geographic Adventure, etc).

  • Change your routine: When your enthusiasm for today comes from the promise of future plans, it is high time to hack away the crispy fry-batter that condemns the present to sluggishness in order to taste the juicy center of now.  Making little changes in your daily routine can feel like taking a pickax to the doldrums.  Instead of driving to work or school, ride the bus.  If you normally ride the bus, walk.  Try arriving everywhere an hour earlier or leaving an hour later just to catch a different cross-section of your community.  Awakening the senses to your current setting can take the edge off of that relentless urge to grab your backpack and hop on a plane to anywhere.
  • Have a mini-adventure: So your next big trip is months away. Whether money is tight or not, you want to GO but can’t…yet.  Taking a weekend or an afternoon to do something even a little bit adventurous will revive the droopy sails of a traveler without a trip.  Climb a tree.  Yes, a tree.  Spend a night camping in a local state park, or even in your backyard.  Go on a photo scavenger hunt searching for the quirkiest people or objects in your neighborhood.  Climb a billboard or water tower (exercising extreme caution and avoiding the cops, of course).  Be a little bit crazy to reward yourself for bottom-line practicality.
  • Reflect on a past trip: Sometimes we stay so enamored with future possibilities, we forget to process (let alone reflect upon) voyages completed.  While sifting through old travel photos may at first aggravate your longing, the process of remembering ultimately guides you back to center.  Put together a scrapbook.  Write a narrative about a stand-out moment from on the road.  Revisiting the experiences you lust after exhumes inner why’s–why you are desirous to go, why particular destinations, why not where you are… Stitching together your own story will prepare you mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the day your departure date finally lumbers into view.
  • Read a novel: Since this suggestion has already been beaten to death then dressed up and clobbered again by all manner of redundant folks (of which I am now one), I will simply relay Ms. Emily Dickinson’s observations on the matter: “There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away/ Nor any coursers like a page/ Of prancing poetry./ This traverse may the poorest take/ Without oppress of toll;/ How frugal is the chariot/ That bears a human soul!”
  • Look for diversity in your own town: I know you are dreaming of strange and exotic cities with foreign smells and languages that seem to bubble softly over the lips of the natives.  But, what about the mysteries of your own town?  Visit the farmer’s market if you never have or browse that funny bookshop scarcely visible from the street.  Drive through a new development or an ancient one.  Take a ghost tour; hunt for the best chicken salad sandwich; find a local organization that promotes ethnic diversity and attend an event.  Sniffing out the intricacies on this side of the fence will distract you from the tantalizing scent of greener grass.

The time in between travels can easily manifest as a plateau of intolerable sameness…a waiting game while you waste away precious lifetime amassing funds and free time enough to escape the system once again.  OR, you can claim the reigns of the ornery meantime, harnessing every bit of of power these lulls have to offer.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to employ the above tips myself.  I’ll keep you posted on successes, failures, and the status of my wanderlust.

How do you ward off restlessness?

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3 Responses to “The Restless In Between: 5 ways to take the edge off of wanderlust”

  1. 1 Emily

    YOU’RE THE COOLEST, SARA!!!!!

  2. I love this post! the other day my hubby and I went to downtown Nashville. being a true suburbanite, i tend to shy away from the city because of traffic, time constraints, fear of crime maybe, the list goes on…anyway, hadn’t visited our fair city in quite awhile. this time looking thru fresh eyes, we had a blast going from the farmers market, to the bicentennial mall, to the capitol to legislative plaza, war memorial, the courthouse to the river, 2nd avenue…stayed for hours and fell in love again with Nashville! what a beautiful place to call home. that was our mini adventure and I feel renewed in spirit somehow. thanks for reminding this old gal to get off the couch 🙂
    debbie alan
    onthehomestretch.com

    • thanks!
      I love how the same old place can become new again and again when we take the time to notice the nuances. and, nashville IS a great city to come home to.
      yw for the reminder 🙂

      sara


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