a strong desire to travel
a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering
The concept of “wanderlust” truly only entered my world following my diagnosis. Did I always have a “strong desire to travel”? Of course. However, I was that typical person who dreamed of traveling to far-off, exotic places, but who made excuse after excuse not to. I never had enough time or enough money. I worried about what my boss would say if I asked to take two weeks off to see the beauty of Southeast Asia. I didn’t think I could ever travel alone and so, I would have to rely on someone else to join me on such a trip. Then, they probably didn’t have the money or the time either. That itch to see the world was always there. I just couldn’t bring myself to scratch it!
Then, cancer happened. Almost immediately, in the face of a very serious and scary diagnosis, I wanted to just get away and escape – the further the better. I no longer cared about the money. Maybe that was a little immature and careless on my part, but again, I just didn’t care. I had a credit card or two. I’d worry about paying it off later.
I don’t like to think about it, but I was so frightened that I would soon look back on my life and realize all of the things I had missed. One of my biggest fears was that I hadn’t seen the world or visited places I had always wanted to see all because I had made excuses like, “I just don’t have the time.” Hah. It’s darkly humorous that when I had all the time in the world, I constantly complained about not having enough it…
While in treatment and not working for the first time since I was a college student, I had LOTS of time on my hands. So, I began to think of all the places I wanted to see and things I just needed to do. Some of them weren’t grand. I wanted to visit Austin, Texas. I wanted to make it to a cousin’s wedding in Ireland. I needed to just sit on the beach or lay out by a pool. There were the bucket-list items too. I had to go back to Southeast Asia. I had fallen in love with Thailand and I needed to see so much more. I dreamed of cage-diving with great whites. I wanted to go on a safari. I had the whole idea of an Eat, Pray, Love journey (minus the love part, since I already had an amazing, loving husband). Bottom-line: I needed any kind of escape away from this horrid world of cancer.
I hear about this need to travel pretty often from survivors. The overwhelming fear that your life could end much too soon before you truly had a chance to fully live it will drive just about anyone to seriously reflect on what they hadn’t yet done/seen.
So, I began planning. I stalked airline websites for cheap flights… although, I did book a flight in first class to spend New Year’s Eve at my family’s place in the Caribbean. I was going to ring the new year in with style! I made it to that wedding in Ireland, much to my family’s shock and awe. I spent the summer at the beach and at my friend’s pool almost every weekend. I bought Groupon deals for hotels without a second glance. Click click!
As I made these plans and ultimately did the things I had set my mind to do (within reason, of course), I found that the feeling of wanderlust just got stronger. I needed to have something constantly planned, no matter how big or small. I needed something to look forward to – to have something I refused to miss out on because of cancer. My diagnosis was not going to stop me and those prior excuses were out the window.
Many of my friends and family were surprised that I could physically do so much traveling. Yet, every time someone questioned it, my only answer was, “I can’t sit still.” It was the easiest way to describe in a nutshell the intense fear and anxiety that my life would end too soon, and the overwhelming desire to wander and explore the world.
I have dedicated an entire category of this blog to Wanderlust. It’s such an intense part of my life now, I couldn’t fit it all into one post. So, I will just have to sit still long enough, between my travels near and far, to continue writing about discovering the world.