Why All Who Are Lost Should Wander

“Not all who wander are lost.” That single line from a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien graces many a diary, quilted pillow and Pinterest board. I agree, but can’t help but wonder – what of those who are lost? 

Whenever we feel a little adrift, people often try to make us feel better with well-meaning advice. But no matter how many times others remind us of how beautiful and unique we are, if we don’t feel that to be true their words will be nothing but empty utterances. You cannot make someone fall in love with themselves – that love has to come from within. When you are lost, you are also the only person who can help you find yourself.

2_QUOTE_12

I’m an existentialist. I don’t believe we were put on this planet for any particular reason or that we have a higher purpose to fulfil. I think existence precedes essence – that is, the meaning of your life is not predetermined and you get to choose who you truly are. As Sartre wrote, “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards.”

The thought that, ultimately, our lives have no given purpose can be terrifying to many people. If our existence is meaningless then… what’s the point? If there is no chosen path then… which way should you walk? And you obviously don’t even have to subscribe to the idea of existentialism in order to feel completely and utterly lost. It is all too easy to go off-track in the maddening maze we call life. When you are just a floating speck of dust in the grand scheme of the universe, it’s easy to feel like you don’t matter at times.

Well, take it from a fellow speck – you do. A lot. That might sound like a contradictory statement, coming from the girl who just waxed lyrical about existentialism. But let me elaborate. Just because you may not have been endowed with a magical prophesy to fulfil at your birth, it doesn’t mean that your life lacks purpose. To the contrary – instead of walking down a highway that was chosen specifically for you, you get to forge your own path.

2_QUOTE_04

Travel allows you to get lost in both the proverbial and literal jungle of life. It lets you wade through the mud, drag yourself through thick shrubbery, get stung by venomous creatures and healed by the kindness of strangers. It lets you turn left or right, walk straight or choose the winding road leading you to the top of a tall mountain.

Whenever you are at a crossroads, travel gives you a new chance to decide who you want to be. Travel allows you to keep creating yourself, building yourself up and tearing yourself down whenever necessary. Every step you take is the beginning of a new chapter and every new chapter is an opportunity to become the best you can possibly be.

So, in short, why should all those who are lost wander? Exploring the world presents a much better way to get to know yourself on a deeper level than other forms of self-medication. Trust me – I’ve tried them. Drinking, partying or sleeping your confusion away will only add to it, on top of creating a whole new set of issues for you to deal with.

2_QUOTE_42

No matter how small and insignificant, how lost and desperate you might be feeling, know this – you are not alone. While that may not give you the solace you crave, it should serve as a reminder that there will always be people out there who have experienced similar pain and who would be happy to help you deal with it if only you let them.

Cheryl Strayed, the author of a hugely successful memoir called “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”, is one of them. After losing her mother, getting hooked on heroin and divorcing her husband, 26-year-old Cheryl set out alone on a 1,100-mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. With no prior backpacking experience and a conscience which weighed more than her large backpack, this was a journey she would never forget.

Cheryl is 46 now and is a perfectly normal married mother-of-two – oh, aside from the fact that there was a film made about her, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, written by Nick Hornby and produced by Reese Witherspoon. Now, who says you can’t turn your life around? This is the trailer for what I believe to be a likely Oscar contender of a movie…

The best part? “Wild” is playing in theatres now. If you’re based in the US or Canada, you can click here to locate screenings near you. Whether you’re currently going through some stuff (and aren’t we all?) or not, this is a film you should definitely not miss – it’s not often that a movie can inspire you to reboot your life.

Do you think travel gives people an opportunity to reinvent themselves? Should all those who are lost wander? Let me know in the comments below or share it on social media using the hashtag #WildMovie!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Fox Searchlight Pictures. As always, all opinions are my own – both the film and the book are fantastic. If they weren’t I’d never dare recommend them to you!

  • Olga Rabo

    Amazing post!
    I do believe, too, that travel helps you find out who you are and how to accept yourself, which is, probably, one of the hardest things to do for a lot of people. It’s a rarity when people are born with love towards themselves – I think it’s something that is cultivated by proper parenting. And, unfortunately, not everybody were blessed with that in their childhood, so they have to spend their adulthood figuring it out. But better later than never!

    http://www.therussianabroad.com

  • I 100% agree. Travel has definitely made me learn things about myself that I never would have known otherwise. Plus I loved this film! The beginning still makes me cringe like hell though! Great post!

    thelifeofastudenttraveller.blogspot.co.uk

    • I’m glad! I really enjoyed the film too 😀 Travel teaches you so many things that you cannot learn at home, I can’t stress enough how important I think it is!

  • Emma Hart

    I went to see this film a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it. Although I hadn’t been through the experiences Cheryl had before I went travelling, I could definitely relate to the fact that travelling is a way to reconnect with yourself after some big life events. After I came back from Oz, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to get over a break up and figure out life after uni. Travelling can be a healer as much as it can be a great adventure!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the film too, Emma! Yeah, I can’t say I’ve been through half as much as Cheryl had when she started travelling but we all have some problems that need sorting out & wounds that need healing. I finish uni this June & am so glad that there’s a lot of travel at the horizon… I will definitely need it to get some clarity 🙂

  • Kayti Clayton

    Girl, I totally feel your existentialism. I have the same basic core of beliefs. That’s why I’m quitting my job this year to travel the world and it’s all I think about. This is a great post, seriously!

    • Thanks a lot Kayti! I’m happy to see a fellow existentialist here 😉 Good for you, that’s a very clever move & one I doubt you’ll ever regret!

  • Sky Fisher

    I love this post so much. I’m not sure what I stand on existentialism or the meaning of life but travel is absolutely the cure for not knowing which way to go, I love what you said about being able to start over each time you travel. That’s one of my favorite things to do.

    Wild is a fantastic movie and book. So inspiring and one of my favorites!

  • I’ve just started reading this book and love it so far. Waiting to see the movie until I finish the book though. Great post.

    • Yay, glad you’re a fan! The movie is well worth your time I’d say 🙂

  • I love this post and as someone who feels like they are at a big time crossroad (or more like major highway) in my life I am certainly hoping the travel plans I have in place for this year will help me find my way!
    I think I really need to see that movie as well… !

  • Lovely post as always Sabina! And I have been seeing a lot about this movie and definitely going to see it in the UK very soon 🙂

  • EvaSturm of TravelResponsibly

    This was an absolutely lovely read, thank you for sharing. I do feel slightly lost myself these days and am fully set and find myself through travel

  • This is one of the BEST travel blog posts I have ever read. So, so, well spoken. I just found your blog and I am so excited to start following your adventures. I’m a fashion blogger ( who also does a weekly series on Fashion & Travel) and am so excited to be inspired by your posts!!

    Xo
    Lee | LegalLee Blonde

  • Kay

    Yes, to everything, a thousand times. 🙂

  • Don Ashley

    You are eloquent, and a deep thinker. I’m not an existentialist, but I respect your position. I seldom encounter people who have formally thought through their philosophy. The philosopher I admire most is Dallas Willard. I recommend anything he has written.