Back in the U.S.A.


Last Night in Kunming (I look so happy since I was amongst friends but it was sad to leave them. Photograph courtesy of Klaus Hornetz)

Last Night in Kunming. I look so happy since I was amongst friends but it was sad to leave them. (Photograph courtesy of Klaus Hornetz)

I arrived home two weeks ago today, almost to the minute, as I start to write this post. I am delighted to be with my husband and cat and all the other things that give me a great sense of place and contentment. BUT! I know soon my feet will begin to itch and I will want the road again. It is just my nature. Steve has asked several times, jokingly, “Now where is your passport?” He knows me.

A friend who also knows me sent me the following excerpt which is from the German philosopher Herman Hesse‘s book, “Wandering”, (Triad/Panther Books, 1985)

“Once again I love deeply everything at home, because I have to leave it. Tomorrow I will love other roofs, other cottages. I won’t leave my heart behind me, as they say in love letters. No, I am going to carry it with me over the mountains, because I need it, always. I am a nomad not a farmer. I am an adorer of the unfaithful, the changing, the fantastic. I don’t care to secure my love to one bare place on this earth. I believe that what we love is only a symbol. Whenever our love becomes too attached to one thing, one faith, one virtue, then I become suspicious. Good luck to the farmer! Good luck to the man who owns this place, the man who works it, the faithful, the virtuous! I can love him, I can revere him, I can envy him. But I have wasted half my life trying to live his life. I wanted to be something that I was not. I even wanted to be a poet and a middle class person at the same time. I wanted to be an artist and a man of fantasy, but I also wanted to be a good man, a man at home. It all went on for a long time, till I knew that a man cannot be both and have both, that I am a nomad and not a farmer, a man who searches and not a man who keeps.”

“… I am condemned to be untrue. I belong to those windy voices, who don’t love women, who love only love. All of us wanderers are made like this. A good part of our wandering and homelessness is love, eroticism. The romanticism of wandering, at least half of it, is nothing else but a kind of eagerness for adventure. But the other half is another eagerness – an unconscious drive to transfigure and dissolve the erotic. We wanderers are very cunning – we develop those feelings that are impossible to fulfill; and the love which actually should belong to a woman, we lightly scatter among small towns and mountains, lakes and valleys, children by the side of the road, beggars on the bridge, cows in the pasture, birds and butterflies. We separate love from its object, love alone is enough for us, in the same way that, in wandering, we don’t look for a goal, we look only for the happiness of wandering, only the wandering.”

“There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and your pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing, don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen, you are not a Greek, you are not harmonious, or the master of yourself, you are a bird of the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much you have lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror, man is – particularly the artist – particularly the poet – particularly myself!”

I am part farmer. I need to set roots into the ground. However, I have discovered over the years that I am a nomad who is able to set my feet firmly on the ground wherever I go; my drive to move on is strong as is my ability to make myself feel at home almost anywhere.


10 thoughts on “Back in the U.S.A.

  1. sbandtg Post author

    Nice honey. I see you avoided making me out to be the cruel bastard I am, by softening “Now where is your passport so that I can destroy it?” to just “Now where is your passport?”.

  2. Janet

    Steve, it’s time to chain her to the garden. Lots of things need planting, and she did say she was part farmer. She is probably a descendant of a Nomadic tribe so use heavy chains. And good luck.Miss you guys.

  3. Lori Weber

    Great quotes. I find life is a constant tension between wanting familiarity and comforting routines and a deep desire to break out of every routine and shun everything familiar. That’s what Ron would call my quixotic nature. I think I have wanderlust and lazylust in equal measure. I know that after being away nothing gives me more pleasure than home. And when home for too long, I do crave newness. I could never leave for as long as you did though. Never. Well, maybe one day, who knows? But not now. Remember what Shakespeare said: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I think he was talking about people, but it could apply to so many other things.

    1. sbandtg Post author

      yes, hesse was so articulate, here. it is a tug of war. some people find that one side or the other wins over for them and i suspect, in the end, i am a nomad with a strong sense of home rather than the other way around. i wonder if familiarity breeds contempt for those who like to nest. i don’t think that is the case for me who has great urges to move from place to place and then return home for a little while. then again – i am able and fortunate enough to do this. i wonder what others think. i suspect for some it is really true. familiarity could feel like a prison….

  4. Lori Weber

    Well, most people will never get to know because there are so few who can do what you are able to: wanderlust is a slave to economic reality. Especially today, it has become a great luxury so those of us who can quench the thirst for newness are lucky indeed. I find though even a drive out into the country for a day can help satisfy the craving for change. Still, it is not the same as going to a completely new place.

    1. sbandtg Post author

      i agree with you strongly. most of us who are able to travel (both near and far) for pleasure have the luxury to do this. there is no doubt about that. i am very aware of this and know how fortunate i am to be able to satisfy my dreams, desire, and need to see the world. at the same time… as i worked at my job — one that initially gave me great satisfaction — i became more and more raw. i needed to leave and make a great change in my life. most people cannot do this. now, though…. i feel that i am growing, aging well, ripening…

  5. rsheffer

    Wow what a great post.I love that Hesse quotation.I am lucky that Danny comes with me as I would not have the nerve to go it alone as you do! Lucky Steve is so stalwart about it all


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