When the Wandering is What Keeps You Grounded

Borken TopUpon coming home to the States after an extended waking dream in New Zealand, I found myself restless. My body longed for new trails to wander, and my mind longed for a balance between sitting in front of a computer doing meaningful work and a deep desire to be in the mountains.

Not only was I restless; I had resolved when I came home to carry forward those parts of me that grew strong and those elements that made me the happiest I’d ever been—seeking out new adventures and opportunities, and surrounding myself with people who feed my soul.

So since coming home, I haven’t spent more than a week in one place—and it’s crazy to say, but the wandering grounds me. I’m addicted to the freedom of driving fast on empty winding roads, the windows down and the music high, my dog stretched across the backseat, and everything I need with me. To thinking about the next place I want to land, and who I want to share space with in this all-too-short life.

From the North Rim to a tour of the Pacific Northwest, my wandering has led me to spend time with friends of the family kind and explore unfamiliar territory: the volcanic rise of the Three Sisters in central Oregon soaked with the smell of sagebrush, the glaciated ridgelines of the North Cascades and their cedar skirts, the salty tang of the ocean where it meets the gritty coastline in Bellingham, the hot red rock of the Grand Canyon.

Not to say that Montana doesn’t still hold a piece of my heart, because it always will. From roaming east to the Beartooths and north to the Flathead, I’ve found that Montana is still the epitome of wild to me, and I may yet hang hat here for good.

I know that I am so incredibly lucky to have found a job that I can do from anywhere that allows me to roam—and not only that, it’s work that I’m passionate about, work that has the potential to be the most impactful thing I do in my professional life. It’s taken me on new adventures too, from traveling coast to coast to expanding the limits of what I’m capable of.

I also know that I’m beyond lucky—blessed, if you will—to have homes to come back to in Missoula when I’m ready to unpack my bag and just breathe for a while, surrounded by family and good friends. Sometimes I feel I am so lucky that it takes my breath away.

From the outside, people might look at my nomadic ways and wonder what the hell I’m doing, with my possessions scattered across three houses, none of them mine, and no place to call my own. They might say that I’m aimless. But I am the most grounded that I’ve ever been.

As winter settles over the northern reaches of the West, I may find myself wanting to stay somewhere longer than 10 days at a time. Or I might chase the powder. I don’t know, and the wide open possibility of not knowing is exactly where I want to be.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

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