‘”Not all those who wander are lost.” ~Tolkien
I do not define travel as a list-building exercise where I keep track of states or countries or continents to boast about here or elsewhere. Nor do I believe travel only consists of crossing man-made geographic boundaries. I wander near and far, both mentally and physically, to dismantle my mind’s own boundaries.
I’m no psychology expert, but our minds have many “limitations.” To function and survive in a world of endless noise, the brain finds it easier to package the information our senses provide into neat little, pre-labeled boxes. Those labels were created by our various upbringings and experiences, and generally prefer not to be upset. And so my own mind operates. But once discovered, the rules we didn’t know we lived by can beneficially be broken – or stretched.
To acknowledge information of which we have no social context may cause discomfort, if it is not rejected outright. To learn that a country dispenses clean needles to drug addicts from vending machines may seem appalling in a country that has criminalized addiction. But your initial shock in hearing this fact does not require you to instantly dispense of it as lunacy; at that moment, you can choose to learn a little more about why. It is an opportunity.
And that’s why I wander. To ignore boundaries does not mean I am lost, but rather that I dislike living within self-imposed regulations that, while making cozy, also choke my curiosity and limit my worldview. And with no major trips planned this winter, I can still break these rules by local exploration, reading, online classes, and more.