Among billions of rocks and gases in an infinite sky, my soul chose paths that led me to this particular place, in this particular moment in time. One less chance meeting and life would be completely unrecognizable. It’s all really quite brilliant, isn’t it? Today finds hit pop songs playing in the background, my daughters outside enjoying the last of summer, and an open laptop in front of me. I’m a writer. I’m a dreamer. I’m a wanderlust inflicted traveler with a burning desire to explore the globe, raise my kids in a quaint cliff-side village and eat nothing but cheesecake flavored gelato. My poor husband.
Until I was 27, my travel experience was limited to summers in BC, a trip to Disneyland and team treks to Toronto and Montreal, now the muddled moments on my canvas of childhood memories. Then, at 18, a passion for change ignited within me, and I found myself ripping out my roots, and heading across Canada for a life altering feast of East Coast culture. I was a ball of anxiety pulling into my what would become my future inlaw’s driveway, a naive girl arriving with no plan and no money, thankful for the open arms that exist naturally in a maritime household. It was my first experience of submerging myself into the unknown. I was 4500 km from home, relying on complete strangers to become loved ones while I discovered things like red hot dogs and grape nut ice cream, and witnessed the incredible maritime value system revolving around friends and family.
Even planning our honeymoon a few years later stretched my imagination only as far as camping in PEI and a drive along the Cape Breton Trail. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolute perfection; stunning sunsets from Cavendish Beach, incredible seafood on a rainy night in Halifax, and pristine beaches of hidden salt water coves. It simply never occurred to me to go anywhere else.
6 years later, we uprooted ourselves once again, heading back for the call of the wild west. I had 9000 km under my belt stretching back and forth across Canada, now back not far from where I began. But, I had left. I had explored, laughed, made friends, loved family, danced all night, became a Mrs, delivered our first daughter and adult’d the hell out of myself. Most importantly, I had given myself the gift of experiencing life in a completely different place, one of the single most important lessons of my life, and something I strive to teach my daughters today.
By 2007, I had gotten lost in the shuffle of motherhood, work, and being the most.amazing.wife.ever. I started a bucket list as a way of redefining who I was as an individual, compiling a mental note of things I wanted to accomplish in order to rediscover and challenge myself. It began with things like running a marathon (check), seeing the Collosseum (check) and writing a novel (a work in progress). One day, I got thinking about my husband’s bucket list. At the top of Mr. National Geographic’s list? Seeing the ancient giants of Sequoia National Park.
So I looked at a map.
That initial step ended up in a 3 1/2 week journey that covered 8500 km in our packed to the gills Chevy Impala. We camped along the coast of Oregon, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, gambled in Vegas, watched Saturn thru a telescope atop the Grand Canyon and yes, we stood in awe of those unbelievably massive trees, wooden pillars reaching for the sky. It.was.magic.
That trip was the starting block for my love of travel. It inspired me and taught me something. I learned that the world is not this vast, expansive, elusive space. It’s truly a beautiful and rich backyard, full of paths, stairs, narrow alleys, canals, forests, mountains and oceans to be explored. There is history, art and culture to experience. There are sights and sounds and smells to indulge. There are people to meet and stories to be told. Most importantly, there are memories to be made.
My point is not that a journey requires a passport, life savings, several changes of planes or even a change of time zones. One of my favorite places on earth is a few hours away in the Rockies, and every single time I pass through those gates it’s like entering heaven. People all over the world dream of standing in front of Lake Louise or canoeing across Moraine Lake, it’s on their own bucket lists, and to me that is fascinating. Travel is a learning curve, a continually evolving adventure. For every step you take, you will pass a new door of opportunity, a new window with a view of what our planet has to offer. And just as you are sure you are a master of worldly adventures, you’ll find yourself asking “How have I never heard of this place?” You’ll find yourself yearning for a place that a day ago you never even knew existed. You’ll find yourself dreaming constantly, craving the experiences, the tastes, the sounds, the feelings of the unknown.
And that, my friends, is Wanderlust.
We all start a journey with a single step. Some take us a mile, and others around the globe. The point is to open your heart to possibility, to remove the fear and replace it with confidence, one step at a time. The world is a vast and beautiful gift for the senses, offering opportunities around every bend, and it’s your choice to step into it. Be inspired, and open the atlas. It’s never to late to look at a map.