Travellinbaen and the Wanderlust

Quote of the Day:     “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.     –Mark Twain

What a great word, wanderlust. Wander. Lust. It connotes not just the simple desire to go looking for something new, to escape the routine and the known; more like an irrational compulsion to ignore the outside world and submit to temptation and the demands of the soul and go wherever the winds lead, with no destination in mind and no time frame for a return. My research-i-pedia informs that the word is derived from the German predilection for wandering that may be traced back to German romanticism (who knew?); alas, the word is obsolete in German in modern times (how stereotypically cliche). Wandern in German is “to hike” and lust is “desire” and the compound word is thus literally translated “to enjoy hiking.” It’s English meaning is “a strong desire for, or impulse to travel and to explore the world.” A better definition would be “an ache for the distance” which is the translation of the German word fernweh. Fernweh. Nah, doesn’t do it for me. I’ll take wanderlust and apply my own poetry. But “aching” is an important part of the word’s meaning, not apparent from merely reading the word and looking for its literal meaning; instead hidden amongst the words “wander” and “lust” that evoke pleasurable feelings. For to have the wanderlust is to not be traveling after all.

My mind’s too caught up in the fever to expound on this cogently. So I wandered the web, looking for help. 

First I found a poem by Robert W. Service, who I’ve never heard of before, titled “The Wanderlust.” It’s a pretty good poem, though not good enough to re-post in its entirety and too damn long to boot. But I liked this passage:

Highway, by-way, many a mile I’ve done;
Rare way, fair way, many a height I’ve won;
But I’m pulling my freight in the morning, boys,
And it’s over the hills or bust;
For there’s never a cure
When you list to the lure
Of the Wan-der-lust. 

There’s a Mark Knopfler song that is pretty good, very sad. It’s called “Wanderlust” and the best lines are these:

Open window
Empty bed and chair
Who’s that callin’
Ain’t nobody there
I look behind me
And I see there’s just
Me and the wanderlust

From my own ipod library I can wallow in the wander lust with this playlist:


  • Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again–Bob Dylan (CM’s got me listening to Dylan lately, and his new tunes on XM are pretty cool too–maybe him and Willie and Mellencamp will come somewhere near this summer)
  • Anywhere But Here–Cross Canadian Ragweed
  • Desperados Waiting for the Train–Guy Clark (just discovered this a few months back)


On reading material, Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is the obvious wanderluster’s choice but I’ve read and written about that not so long ago. My web search led me to that and to “The Dharma Bums”, also by Kerouac. I read only yesterday Esquire Magazine’s list of books every man must read and Dharma was their choice for Kerouac. On top of that, Kerouac was recently mentioned to me by CM as another of my distant brother’s early influences. Karma is calling on an unusually clear channel. I guess I better check this one out pretty soon. On a tangentially related note, to search for new books to read is to set loose the wanderlust of the brain, and overwhelming because the objective of becoming well read is hopeless in all but relative terms. So many rabbit holes…

And finally, a clip from one of my favorite recent movies, The Darjeeling Limited. While the brothers are actually travellin and therefore not in the throes of the wanderlust, the mood of this whole movie is well matched to my current predicament. On top of that, the blank stare is executed perfectly throughout, by virtually the entire cast. A great flick.


Happy Trails, friends.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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2 Responses to Travellinbaen and the Wanderlust

  1. Maybe ought to have included Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” on my tunes, but since its stuck in my head so often thanks to the cruise commercials I decided to punish it.

    By the way, I doubt any of you noticed but I lost about 7000 hits off my stats a few days ago. TB was closing in on 50K, right at my one year anniversary and I was kind of pumped about it, then “poof” it dropped for some reason. For reasons I can’t articulate, that really pisses me off.

  2. Madd Dawg says:

    classic case of premature joculation TB.

    I used to love Lust for Life after seeing the movie Trainspotting many years ago (great flick), but those cruise commercials have just about ruined it for me.

    Never seen The Darjeeling Limited, but will check it out.

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