This post is going to be a bit wordy. Not wordy in the sense of its length, but wordy in the sense of using a lot of words to describe one thing in particular. Or at least try to.
You see, this “thing” I’m trying to describe is a feeling.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to describe this particular feeling, and it’s not what people might think of as being a “typical” feeling. It is not specifically about love or hate, pain or pleasure, hot or cold, fear or desire, happiness or sadness, anger or calm, attraction or repulsion, disappointment or satisfaction, adoration or contempt, awe or indifference, disgust or admiration, revulsion or fondness, boredom or excitement, gratitude or unthankfulness, anticipation or dread, nor is it about jealousy or compersion.*
And then there is the feeling of loneliness.
Now wait a minute, I’m not sure we have an opposite word for this feeling. Words like companionship, comradery, community, fellowship, or inclusion, just don’t seem to capture the opposite of that feeling. And it’s not even the same as being alone. Loneliness is sort of a mixture of feeling morose, depressed, gloomy, sullen, despondent and dejected. And one can be lonely while standing in an ocean of people.
Loneliness is a “yearning” for something.**
But I’m not going down that trail today. No, the feeling I’m trying to describe is the feeling I get when I’m constantly in motion. Whether it is on the highway or when I’m out hiking in the wilderness. In both instances, I consider this motion to be a moving meditation.
But it is much more than that. It is an elation!
And none of the words for “elation” seem to capture the entirety of this feeling either. So, I set off on a search to try to find such a word or words that encompass that feeling associated with being in prolonged or perpetual physical motion combined with that mixture of constant unreasoning passion and jubilation.
While the definitions of the words “move” and “movement” speak to the act itself, they do not really convey what it feels like to be in this motion. To move obviously involves locomotion, action, a passage, an advancement, a flowing, passing, stirring, streaming, propelling, or a rousing. I’m sure you can think of a few more words associated with the physical act.
What about the accompanying mental state?
A search on the Net came back with the word “Eudaimonia” as being: “A state of being happy whilst traveling and everything feels great.” But this is really a bastardization of that word. Eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek term better translated as “happiness” or “flourishing” or more objectively what it means to “live a human life well.” It describes a serene and permanent state of happiness “. . . rather than the momentary exaltation of the senses.”
How about “Wanderlust?” Well, that word refers to “a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.” But I’m still not sure that fully captures the internal feeling we get while we are in the act of roving.
Then we have “Peripatetic.” An adjective that describes someone who lacks a fixed domicile, who likes to walk or travel around, in particular while working or when based in various places for relatively short periods of time. Similar adjectives include: nomadic, itinerant, roaming, migratory, ambulatory, and unsettled. Or perhaps a noun like a migrant, a vagabond, or a vagrant.
We’re just not hitting on a single word to wrap around this feeling.
So, it was back to the research. And I finally came upon an article titled. “14 Awesome Travel Words You’ve Never Heard.”
Now, I didn’t find all of these words to be that uplifting at all, or at least not describing a positive emotion without some further elaboration. So, after pulling those particular negative words out of the fourteen and throwing them in the category of Rabbit Holes, we have:
Resfeber, a Swedish word that means the restless race of the traveler’s heart before the journey begins when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together.
Humm, not bad . . .
Eleutheromania, a Greek word meaning having an obsession or manic yearning for freedom.
But then we would have to define freedom and explain why it’s so elusive.
Fernweh, a German word for “farsickness” or a longing for unseen places.
Still doesn’t describe the feeling for the longing of being on the road to get there.
Trouvaille, a French word meaning a “lucky find” or a “valuable discovery,” which I suppose could apply to an unplanned and wondrous travel destination.
Again, this applies to the destination only.
Hygge, a Danish word acknowledging a feeling, whether it be ordinary or extraordinary, in the moment, alone or with friends, at any location as being “cozy,” or “charming” or “special.”
I like this, but it doesn’t refer to traveling at all.
Livsnjutare, another beautiful word brought to us by Sweden that describes one “who loves life deeply and lives it to the extreme; [or an] “enjoyer of life.”
This only works if you’re talking descriptively about the person, not the feeling of roaming.
Waldeinsamkeit, is a German word that refers to the sublime or spiritual feeling one has while being alone in the woods or the wilderness.
A beautiful word, indeed! And I feel this way whenever I’m in the wilds.
Meraki, a Greek word with a sort of blurry translation to: “When you leave a piece of yourself, your soul, creativity, and love in what you do. To put a little bit of yourself into something.”
I’ll have to ponder this one. I think I’m thinking of the opposite – what the travel or movement brings out in me.
Numinous, derived from the Latin word “numen” and given more meaning by the German philosopher Rudolf Otto, means “arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring.”
I certainly feel awe in the many places I’ve seen, and I do feel the presence of spiritual entities or the Ancestors in those places.
And finally, we have Dérive. The author of the “14 words” piece uses this word, out of context, for the meaning of taking an unplanned trip. A spontaneous and miraculous adventure where the participants are simply drawn to the attractions of their encounters. Ok, but that is not how the word is really applied. To properly define it would be a deep dive into a very humongous Rabbit Hole, but I will mention it briefly in that section of my post below.
Now you may have noticed that all of these words are of foreign derivation and usage. And while I borrowed them from that article, I did try to flesh them out a bit more than the original author for my exploration into words that could possibly describe that wonderful feeling accompanying boundless travel.
Clearly, my wordsmithing didn’t quite track that author’s interpretations. And, maybe, just maybe, no adequate word has been invented in the English language, or any other language, that can capture the total essence of the feeling I’m trying to describe. I’ve certainly found none directly on-point.
But, for fun, let’s try one more.
How about “dancing?” That certainly may seem a far journey away from the destination where I was heading, but when I looked up the word “emotion,” as an alternative to “feeling,” I discovered competing theories as to the word’s derivation, but they both did trace back to the word “motion.”
One source said emotion comes from the Latin “emovere” which means “to move out” or “to move through.” And another claims it derives from the French word “émouvoir,” which means “to stir up.” Looks pretty close to me, so maybe the French word came from the Latin and so on and so on.
None of us would argue that as time progressed, the word “emotion” has become a catch-all term for all passions, sentiments and affections.
But then I stumbled upon how certain writers or entrepreneurs had dusted off their creative license to extrapolate and conclude that “emotion” is the essence of all movement. Consequently, “dance,” literally the body in motion becomes the “pure expression,” the “guttural emotionality,” that physically communicates all feelings without words.
Moreover, this “movement” or “expression,” when observed, will strike us to our core, and “move” us into feeling or taking some action of our own.
Now that’s pretty esoteric.
But, I suppose, so is my attempt to describe what I’m feeling when I’m on the road. I don’t really envision myself dancing down the highway or through the forest, but maybe I should. One thing I can say for sure, that feeling you have when staying in motion, that journey between destinations, may be the closest thing we can feel to true freedom.
And it’s very addicting.
Photo: I could have chosen any number of pics for this post. I have plenty of pictures of driving down the open road in day or night time. Mountains or Desert. Sunrise or Sunset.
I thought of maybe picking one of my wildflower shots and then drifted back over the many wilderness shots I have too. Ultimately, I decided to go with this one. It’s a nice pic of Mount Hood in the Cascades. And the road, of course. I absolutely love this area, would life there in a heartbeat if I could. But no matter, as long as there is another destination down the road, I’ll be happy.
Hard to even try to describe that feeling of euphoria when I’m in motion. Just as hard as it was trying to pick out any specific image that could adequately represent it. 🙂
* “Compersion” is an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.
I really enjoyed discovering this word. I would hope that more people can break free from the social programming for extreme competition that leaves many in the mode of jealousy and dissatisfaction with their own lives so they can learn to be happy with the successes of others, as well as properly recognize their own successes. And by successes, I don’t mean material gain, which, unfortunately, is something people have come to place way too much emphasis on to the negation of other pursuits in life such as inner discovery, achieving spiritual awareness, the expression of compassion, and experiencing true love.
** “Yearning” is something I experience when I’m not traveling and I’d rather be on the road.
I carved the following words off of the article I read because I just didn’t see them as fitting in with the theme at all. In fact, a couple of them are down right negative in their meanings, albeit, they are fascinating and they came from a source I had not heard of before, namely, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
Forelsket, a Danish word for what you might refer to as “infatuation” or the feelings of euphoria you have when first falling in love.
I can see how this might apply to an individual destination, planned or spontaneous, but that would be a feeling about the end point, not the feeling you have while engaged in the act of traveling itself.
Yu yi, a very interesting Chinese word for the desire to feel things as intensely as you did when you were younger — before expectations, before memory, before words.
Now this word smacks me in the face as being down right depressing. To begin with, it operates under the presumption that as we age, we no longer feel. That’s absolutely horrible!
Next, as the definition uses the word “desire” it implies that we go no further than desiring. Thus, we can never get those intense feelings back, we can only miss not having them or not being able to experience them anymore.
That’s an awful word. Or at least that take on it is. I could play with this one all day and take it in a thousand directions, and for that, I think it’s a great word. You can see why this word found its way into my Rabbit Hole section. 😊
Sonder, a word that was created by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which is:
“the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”
Onism, looking also to the The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, is the awareness or:
“the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.”
Or perhaps these two words, Sonder and Onism, more boiled down simply mean that we are restricted to one reality by virtue of the fact that we are restricted to one physical human body. This may sound depressing, but it could serve as motivation for seeking other experiences, or for trying to better understand others, or for staying in motion, which brings us to the next word.
Situationist – I pulled this from Wikipedia regarding the word “Dérive‘.”
“ . . . a French word for “drift,” and refers to “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” Essentially, an unplanned journey, usually by small groups of people where they “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.”
“The dérive‘s goals include studying the terrain of the city (psychogeography) and emotional disorientation, both of which lead to the potential creation of Situations. The term “situationist” refers to the construction of situations, one of the early central concepts of the Situationist International; the term also refers to any individuals engaged in the construction of situations, or, more narrowly, to members of the Situationist International. Situationist theory sees the situation as a tool for the liberation of everyday life, a method of negating the pervasive alienation that accompanied the spectacle. The founding manifesto of the Situationist International, Report on the Construction of Situations (1957), defined the construction of situations as “the concrete construction of momentary ambiances of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality.”
WTF! Ok, I’ll have to spend a little time studying this one. 😊