Wanderlust: A Fear of Settling

So, the actual title of this travelogue is Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents. I think A fear of settling is more accurate.

I will start with the fact that I very much enjoyed and related to this book and to Elisabeth Eaves. Many of the reviews I read conveyed the opposite opinions, citing that the main character was selfish and there wasn’t a satisfying end. That’s all fine and good (it certainly didn’t make me feel so hot relating to her with those reviews), but a few pointed out that it’s not the same as a fiction novel– it’s not required to have a happy ending.

What I thought was the most interesting about this book was the fact that the author is so honest. Not in a way that shares all of her inner most thoughts and experiences, but in the way that she talks about having sex with boys. She has no qualms (that I could tell) telling readers that she cheated on one of her boyfriends multiple times. She is frank and up front about emotions she was feeling and wasn’t feeling.

Like I said, I related to a lot of it. I’ve certainly felt trapped in relationships. I’ve sabotaged a couple. She feels a constant itching to keep moving that isn’t limited to location or travel. I’ve felt that. Once you start, you’re really happy that you got there, you’re somewhere safe. But the moment you realize that, you suddenly want to cause trouble. You don’t want it to be that easy. Any contact feels forced and smothering.

Once I found someone who was very distant, and it was a good compliment. Those kinds of relationships don’t last, though. Two people can only hold each other at arm’s length for so long until both give up and leave. Eaves certainly felt that as well.

The quote I related to the most was this: “I liked that with Stu I got to learn things that would make me more independent of Stu.”

I hate dependency in relationships. I hate being dependent, frankly. I want to do everything on my own, and the more I can learn from someone in order to do it on my own, the better. If you believe that everyone learns something for every relationship they enter, I would agree. I think most people think they learn something about themselves, but I like to take away something practical: a skill I didn’t know, a dish I learned to cook, an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I think Eaves thinks this way too.

What I think some people who gave it bad reviews were disappointed in was that Eaves didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about how she got from one place to another and what food she ate and sights she saw while there. The problem with that is I don’t think that was her point in writing this. She’s describing the feeling of wanderlust. It’s an emotion but also just an impulse. She wanted to describe the ins and outs of it in the most in depth way possible.

I think she did that.

She uses lots of quotes from other authors to describe what she’s feeling. I think that helps. Even though wanderlust causes a feeling of loneliness, I could take solace in the fact that I’m not the only person who feels like this. There are others. I’m not sure how common they are, and I don’t know how much I like being a part of a group that hates commitment to anything long-term, but I guess it’s something I’m forced to accept, otherwise accept settling and possibly being miserable.

Maybe those that have wanderlust are just insatiably selfish. We want to take as much from the world and our travels as we want to take from people. I wonder if there’s a biological connection somehow to people who were migrant in prehistoric times. Maybe some people are just programmed to keep moving and never staying with one person or one place. Some people are and the two groups are only supposed to mingle for short times.

It’s also probably good in that situation to have a job that can move anywhere. Freelancing and/or travel writing is probably a good choice for me in that case.

That’s kind of a lonely thought, which is why even though I really liked this book, the ending left me thinking, “well is there hope? Do I have a chance of not being alone for the rest of my life?”

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the answer to that question.


One thought on “Wanderlust: A Fear of Settling

  1. Pingback: The Problem with Possessions | Ally International

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