BLOG #34, SERIES 7
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
THE HAPPY WANDERERS
August 24, 2016
Turns out that traveling makes us
far happier than any material wealth
ever does. – Bright Side
Ah the lure of the open road, the ever-changing sea, the trackless sky! And travel-writers are right when they postulate that anticipation trumps destination. Without anticipation: planning, scouting, researching, dreaming, etc., travel would be ever so much the less.
As our faithful blog-readers may remember, we have done our best to infect our two grandsons, Taylor and Seth, with the travel virus by taking each of them on separate cruises to Europe. The catch: they had to master the entire geography of the world before their 13th birthdays—took each of them an entire year to accomplish.
After we visited them recently, en route home from our 24,000-mile trip, Taylor addressed a card to:
“Dear wonderful wandering-all-over-the-world grandparents.”
We suspect both boys will turn out to be wanderers as well.
As for us and our faithful traveling accomplices, Bob and Lucy Earp, we never leave home without first singing “On the Road Again” with Willie Nelson.
I once wrote an article for Ministry Magazine titled, “When Missionaries Go Forth, What Happens to Their Children?” What happens is that children of missionaries (also ministers and Armed Forces personnel) grow up with a permanent case of wanderlust. Home for them, [us] is not a place, but rather wherever in the world their parents happen to be at a given moment. My parents certainly bequeathed that great gift to me and my two siblings.
But it is oh so frustrating to be tied to such a short life-span. So many places to see and experience, so little time. I felt it keenly in these two recent trips: In most cases, we only got to spend a couple of days in countries we’d have liked to have spent months. All we got were hummingbird-brief tastings.
Indeed, life is so brief, as I get older I’ve come to resent traveling on routes I’m already familiar with—worst of all: freeways. So, instead, my wife and I find backroads we’ve never explored before whenever possible.
I suspect that much of America’s current isolationism, myopia, and narrow simplistic thinking is a product of squirrel-cage living: just mindlessly spinning around and around on the same trajectory, never going anywhere new. Same for the failure of millions to learn anything new. Instead of reading, they waste their lives away on mindless yada yada. Or as Ted Koppel famously put it: “Almost everything said in public today is recorded; almost nothing said in public is worth remembering.”
As for travel, St. Augustine’s great quote is worth going back to again and again:
“The world is a great book, and those who do not travel—
have read only one page.”
As for the money it takes to travel, we are anything but wealthy. However, like everyone else, our lives are governed by priorities: In order to travel, we do without things others may consider essential—like new cars for instance.
The more that I live, read, experience, learn, and become, the more I’m convicted that deep in our DNA, God has implanted a yearning to explore, to become, to grow. No one revels in sitting on something day after day. Always, each day, God expects us to stretch towards growth like a spider casting out filaments. Or as Robert Browning memorably put it in Andrea del Sarto:
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”
* * * * *
Then there are those who yearn to travel but are incapacitated or anchored to one vicinity because of the illness of someone dear to them. Millions are in this situation. Many of these travel vicariously, and grow in the process.
Nor should we forget visionaries such as Thoreau who expanded his world mightily for two long years—yet never left Walden Pond.
* * *
With this preamble, I shall begin our new two-part series:
We Discover Northern Europe
We Discover America’s Backroads.
Not all at once, of course, but in small doses at a time.
Look forward to traveling with you, beginning next week.