Musings Of A Wanderlusting Mind, And Staying Put

Where do you belong? Why do you belong there? Do you belong anywhere?
Where will you go next? How long will you stay?

These are questions you might find yourself asking if you too have a Wanderlusting Mind. What is wanderlust? It’s fairly new to the English language, but search #wanderlust on Instagram and you’ll be bombarded with literally millions of photos… maybe not all properly exemplify the term, but that’s a different topic.

How I interpret wanderlust is simply constantly seeking after adventure and discovering new things, places and outlooks on life.

When you have a Wanderlusting Mind, this is just more than occasionally visiting new places or wanting to take a vacation. It affects every part of you. Your choices. Your opinions. Your actions. Your future.

But what happens when you and your wanderlusting tendencies become trapped in contentment… feeling like you should actually stay somewhere, and for an indefinite amount of time? Almost feeling as though you belong there.


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This is supposed to be a “GASP!!” face…

The words belong and indefinite don’t surface often in the vocabulary of the Wanderlusting Mind. They practically defy all the principles…

Or do they?

I haven’t traveled the world or been to all 50 states. I’ve only been outside the country twice… and that was to Canada, though I am still a proud owner of an almost-expired passport.

But there has always been something in me that kept me from staying in one place too long and I never visioned living in Nebraska my whole life.

Snake River Falls, Nebraska (November 2015) Photo credit: Bush

Despite living out west almost 3 years now, I still very much love and appreciate my homestate—see my article about my Nebraskan roadtrip adventure last fall: Nebraska. Six Days. Endless Exploring.

When I interned in Alaska in 2010, that is when I came down with a hard case of Mountain Addiction. When those two months were up and I moved back to Nebraska, I found myself constantly searching for mountains in the horizon.

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Portage Glacier area, Alaska 2010—back when I wore cotton shirts, blue jeans and running shoes. Photo credit: random friend I made, but have lost touch with.

Three years later, I finally found myself back in the mountains—Moscow, Idaho. It didn’t have much more than Moscow Mountain, but even that was sufficient for my adventurous spirit. When I wanted to explore more, new adventures and vastly different scenery were only a short drive away.

Mountain Biking Moscow Mountain
Mountain biking Moscow Mountain in Idaho. Photo Credit: Justin Miller

In April of 2014, I moved to Driggs—same state, 10.5 hours away in the opposite corner of Idaho. The Tetons. I took a job at a wildlife sanctuary, moving yet again. When the job ended in September, I found myself content for the first time in a long time. Content. Really? No new region to move to? No job pulling me to a different state? Why do I feel content in a place where I have very few friends, no job or place to live?

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Table Mountain, Wyoming (Summer 2014) Photo: Eric Write

Perhaps it was the beauty all around me and so much I hadn’t seen and done (and still I haven’t seen or done). But there is beauty everywhere.

However, Northern Arizona had been on my mind long before moving to Driggs. Why don’t I feel the pull there? Aside from that, being stationary doesn’t really help a lot in the job search, especially in wildlife science, a field where you must be willing to move anywhere for the opportunities you want. It didn’t make sense to anyone why I wouldn’t move away (and still doesn’t). This area is also not cheap to live in and is has competitive wildlife positions. While working seasonal jobs I volunteer with the local raptor center on the side… so I still haven’t found a paying position in the wildlife field. But I still feel content.



That is the thought that came to me several weeks ago and has stuck. Despite the seemingly illogical choice of staying in the Tetons, I have felt more at peace now than in a long time. And isn’t that what we are truly searching for in life—Peace?

Looking out from the Darby Wind Cave in the Tetons. Photo: Brandon Forsyth

Living in this region also provides insurmountable access to adventure. Whether you are facing North, East, South or West, there is adventure to be had in the mountains, foothills, backroads and rivers. There are rocks to climb, trails to ride, rivers to paddle and practically anywhere to pitch your tent… or hang your hammock.

While being geographically diverse, it’s also close to so much else. Moab and Glacier National Park are only an 8 hour drive. With a three-day weekend, I’ve managed to visit these places and many others without missing any work, putting my wanderlusting mind at ease.

So in addition to just feeling content here, I also am fortunate that this is where I feel content, despite the many sacrifices I continue to make. And even if I were somewhere else, I believe that no matter where you live, adventure can be found there. There are ways to be content and feed that adventurous spirit of yours.

For me, it just so happens to be in Wydaho… for now.

Atop Sawtell Peak in Island Park, Idaho on my last day of the season with the Forest Service (October 2015) Photo: Sue McKenna

Feature Image: Packsaddle Lake, Big Hole Mountains on my first Bikepacking trip September 2015. Photo Credit: fallen tree turned diving board.


Aaron Written by:

Advocate for wildlife, land, bicycling, curiosity and deep thinking | Nebraskan currently based in the Tetons

  • Meg

    I think that this is a very important topic that does not get discussed enough. Having a place to call “home” where you feel comfortable and also use as a base for other adventures is key to having a wanderlusting mind. You can adventure anywhere but having a place to come back to is essential, if you do not feel comfortable in a place, you eventually move on searching for the next one. While I am still searching for that magical place that feels comfortable and like a home (Looking at the Jackson Area), I still wander on my weekends traveling and adventuring and I firmly believe the more places you see, travel to and visit the more holistic view you have and that when you do “settle” even if only for a little bit of time there is a reason. Everyone has geographic comfort zones and finding yours is important.