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.