Jean-Pierre de Caussade
One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.
Wanderers avoid the boredom and obligation of social entrenchment.
Bright minds wander into the wild blue yonder.
Throughout history, humans have wandered. Indeed, we probably began as wanderers, settling down when agriculture took hold. But many continued wandering. To this day, there are wanderers, some from necessity, others from an inner restlessness.
There are those who flee, leaving a home of violence, war or poverty, wandering here and there until some country will take them in. Theirs is a desperate wandering, not of free choice.
There are others who follow their food source, just as other animals do. Monarch butterflies follow the milkweed road; nomads search pasture for their herds, packing all their belongings with them. Theirs has been a way of life for many generations and they know their route well.
Similarly, there are those who go from city to city, seeking jobs while living out of their cars or vans. Theirs is a less focused approach but with a similar aim and with long established tradition: American hobos jumping from train to train and Roma people in Europe, known as gypsies, forced by circumstances to be always on the road, finding sustenance wherever they can. Troubadours of old and today's itinerant musicians, going from city to city, using their music to gain enough pennies to eat and be housed.
Then there are the people who follow an inner thrust. They may or may not have financial resources, but some voice inside tells them it is time to get up and go….somewhere, anywhere. Some backpack long trails, others get on their sailboat (or in a few cases a rowboat or even a barrel) and sail to far off places. Some travel incessantly by ship, train, plane, stopping off at home only long enough to plan another trip. And still others, unable to stay in one place for long, live on the streets, walking here and there, sleeping in a different place each night.
Other people wander with more purpose. There are the religious seekers, who must walk a certain path, visit a certain shrine, or who seek enlightenment wherever they may find it. The pilgrims, the Siddharthas. And there are similar seekers who have no religious aim but seek inner peace, a home, a place to belong. An inner restlessness drives them. Some, whose circumstances do not allow physical wandering, still remain restless in mind and become armchair wanderers, always following new roads in their minds, seeking new experiences, new ideas, a place for their brain to feel at home.
Wanderers, ever yearning, searching, seeking a home.
Modern day wanderers
Drive from place to place
Along I5, sleeping on the beach
Or in their car,
Searching for entry
Into what they perceive
As a better home.
You too, have been a wanderer,
First leaving the small village,
Later, fleeing the steel town,
In search of a better life.
Courtship and marriage,
But still searching.
Wife and children gone,
Travel and work
Filled the empty nest,
But still you searched.
Retired, thinking, writing,
Companion and dog
Filling the emptiness,
You still wandered the mind.
Older, body less able,
But mind still active, wise at times,
Calm, less restless, more accepting,
You now wait for what may follow,
For the door to a new path,
Where you will still
To Hermann Hesse
You too, sought a home,
Searching the intricate pathways
Of the mind for an answer,
A guidepost, a hope.
You turned your back on the world
To seek relief in Nature,
But that was not the answer.
As mature Kuhn,
You sought solace in music,
Solitude and work,
But that could not sustain.
A more knowledgable Sinclair,
You plumbed the depths
Of your soul for the answer,
Only to emerge still seeking.
You followed Eastern religion,
Wandering along the river.
But it kept its secrets to itself.
A dispirited Harry Haller,
Bent and worn by war and politics,
You sought refuge in Woman and
Magic Theater of the mind.
The woman was but a figment
And the theater became a horror.
Finally, a wiser, older Knecht,
You left the world again,
Turned your back on real life,
To play a mind game with kindred souls,
Only to leave when it proved
And perhaps you have now
Found home wherever you reside,
Or perhaps there is a heavenly path
That you wander still,
And I would then join you,
Following wherever you will.
With separate beginnings,
Wander along different lanes
Of the same musical path,
In a short chordal pause,
Then wander off again,
Until the end,
Where all the lines meet
In a single harmonious chord.
I've run my course,
And long it was.
I've had my share,
My hungry fill.
But still I'm left
With awe and hope,
And still I yearn
For more to come.
What lies ahead
Is a pure gift.
And what then follows
Is the unknown.
Could I But...
Could I but scratch that urgent itch
That's just beyond my finger tips.
Could I but think that clever thought
That would of me a genius make.
Could I but write a poem or two
That Wolfgang Goethe could have written.
Could I but be a graceful hawk
That frolicking dips and soars on high.
Could I but again feel that thirst
That never ever could be quenched.
Could I but like a cheetah run
That's intent upon its prey.
Could I but stir that dream and drive
That once marked the path I took.
Could I but join the flying geese
That honking loudly southward stream.
Could I but elude for yet some time
That ghostly figure stalking me.
Could I but again indeed believe
That there is a God on high.
Would that I could but no I can't!
So life will take its untoward course
And I'll be left to stew in my brew.
The Mist of Life
translation of Hermann Hesse's poem Im Nebel
Strange in the mist to wander!
Lonely are bush and stone,
No tree sees the other,
Each is alone.
Full was my world of friends,
While yet my life was bright;
Now that the mist descends,
All have vanished from sight.
Truly wise no one can be,
Who the dark not kens,
That inescapably and calmly
Him from all others rends.
Strange in the mist to wander!
Life is to be lone.
No one knows the other,
Each is alone.
"Willst du immer weiter schweifen?
Sieh, das Gute liegt so nah,
Lerne nur das Glück ergreifen,
Denn das Glück ist immer da."
So did Goethe once opine,
I concur and fall in line.
Are you forever moved to roam?
Peer 'round, the good is close to home,
Learn but good fortune to embrace,
For fortune dwells in every place.
translation of Hermann Hesse's Stufen
Just as every blossom wilts and every youth
Gives way to age, so too does every stage of life,
Every wisdom too, and every virtue blossom
When due in time and may not endure forever.
At each of every call of life, one's heart
Must be prepared to part and start anew,
In order ably and bravely and free of sorrow
To give itself to other new commitments.
And each beginning harbors is own magic,
That shields us and that helps us on with life.
Let us with joy exhaust one sphere upon another,
And to none of them as to a homeland cling,
The cosmic spirit is not upon binding and limiting intent,
It wants to lift from stage to stage and broaden us,
Hardly at home are we in any circle of life,
Cozily settled, before we threaten to go limp;
He alone who is ready to leave and to journey forth,
Can the paralyzing force of habit escape.
It is quite possible that even the hour of death
Us will youthful further to new realms,
Life's call to us will never end...
Well then heart, take leave and fare you well!
Píccola opines: I like to wander too, but only in the confines of the yard. The territory is large enough for me to explore and offers myriad delights: a variety of smells gopher holes, squirrels to chase, berries to pick....