It is not unheard of for any of us to fall absolutely head-over-heels for a place in the world, and to see ourselves belonging there, as opposed to anywhere else. But, what if someone feels that way about multiple places? Similar to when someone has talents in more than one area and then they have a hard time choosing a career or a hobby to stick with: falling in love with multiple places means we may have difficulty figuring out where we belong at all.
Gifted people tend to be travelers, be it in our minds, by reading books, or by actually hitting the road. Which means exposing ourselves to the idea of new places all over our states, many countries, and even the world. And, because we think deeply about everything, we may find meaning where others may merrily glass over something.
So, as we fill our souls with connections between history, culture, things we've read about and places we've dreamed of being, and connect all of that with standing in the actual place where all of it occurred, we feel connected in very intimate ways with the place, even beyond time... understanding the place possibly more than other people who may stand in the same location. Or, perhaps as we constantly spin through the world at 100 miles a minute and then finally find somewhere that suits our hearts and makes us feel whole, that feeling of wanting to belong there makes us think about packing everything up and moving it all to that incredible, new location. But, that was likely how we felt about the last location we moved to... And all those places that we still reminisce about, that we thought about moving to when we retire someday, or when we have more money, or when we downsize and can live in a camper.
So, where do we belong? What is the perfect place, when we can connect so deeply with so many amazing places?
Where do you want to live? Is it in the mountains, where you once spent time among the pine trees and evergreens, hiking to beautiful mountain streams and enjoying the smell of wood burning in the fireplace, as you relaxed in that cabin, tucked in the forest? Or, is it in that adorable little town, with all the shops and restaurants, and the buyers of activity from tourists and locals enjoying the day? Or the seaside, where you walked the beaches and imagined playing with your children or your grandchildren there some day?
Can one live in multiple places, and still feel settled anywhere? Can you dabble in being a citizen of a town, if you only live there a few years, before going to the next place you swear will be the last stop, but never is?
I enjoy having a home to come back to after my travels. But I have moved my home-base back and forth between two completely different corners of the United States – Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, and Florida, along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I've traveled enough in between those points and between the other corners of the country, and even overseas, in my attempts to feel connected to people and places all over the map. (And it doesn't help that I also have a mad crush on interesting, old houses, and I have a crazy desire to live in many of those all over the place too!)
I've thought about trying to find somewhere that I can connect with on a heritage level, such as somewhere my ancestors lived. Unfortunately, in this day and age, ancestors usually span the globe as well. I try to explain my obsession with Iceland and my amazing comfort level with Ireland by saying some of my ancestors were Scandinavian, and I imagine somewhere there was someone who was Irish somewhere in my pedigree. Yet, none of this explains my absolute heartache at leaving Costa Rica or Greece after my summer vacations there.
Some days, as much as I miss my dad and wish he was able to travel with me in person, I have to admit I envy him somewhat, because I have scattered his ashes throughout the world, leaving bits of him in every location that I also leave pieces of my heart. I really do wish I could be in all of those places at once like he is now -or at least his body remnants are. I know, I know... it is a little morbid (by definition, actually). But you have to admit, it's a creative way to make sure he gets everywhere he never got to go, and it's probably what people need to do with me when I'm gone. As much as I am trying to make it everywhere before I die, I'm probably not going to achieve that goal. Especially because there are so many places I keep wanting to go back to, because they feel like home.
As gifted people, we sometimes experience life in ways that even we feel are "too much," and this is one more example of how being gifted sometimes drives me crazy. Life is way too much some days- too much cool stuff to see, and so many places I want to be.
I finally broke down a couple years ago, and bought a little 13 foot vintage camper so I could afford my travel habit better. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to stay in hotels all the time, we now can spend under $40 each night at campsites. And at least a couple of times each year we find cheap flights or cruises and go explore new countries, too.
My 12-year-old daughter has been to more countries than the number of years she's been alive. Some days I wonder how she will deal with this travel obsession, when she has already been to so many places. She will have to go even farther, or dive into the cultures even deeper. I've already planted the seeds for her of studying abroad or joining some type of Peace Corps activity in the future so she never runs out of cool things to do or places to go. Because I think that is the worst feeling- when a gifted person doesn't have interesting things to look forward to. When that happens to me I panic a little until I realize and remind myself again how big the world really is and that we will never run out of places to explore. Even my local region offers new things to do once in a while. But, I find that I need more and more novel and different types of adventures to keep my mind from spinning.
I'm writing this post as I am driving from St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle, as I make my way back toward the city. I know I will be back here soon, because we have a camping reservation for one of the upcoming holiday breaks. But I still feel like I am leaving my best friend behind me in the rear-view mirror, as I catch the last glimpses of the lighthouse and the causeway. And I have mentally noted multiple bungalows for sale along the waterways, just in case I can't shake this feeling of missing this area after I get back to my real life. I've done that in so many different places that people laugh and tell me I should be a real estate agent or a travel agent because I know so much about the houses and things to do in so many places. But, I would actually rather be a bird who can fly across long distances and make my home in different locations depending on the season and the food supply.
I imagine that wanderlust and this type of travel obsession are common with many intense gifted people. This is yet another type of intensity that seems to be a combination of multiple categories of Dabrowski's overexcitabilities. Perhaps a combination between sensory and intellectual OEs... with a touch of imaginational and psychomotor... with interpersonal and intrapersonal touches. It is a love for novelty and the unknown, and a yearning for deeper connections, like a love story that never can be resolved; a relationship with the physical world and the history of time and space. The greatest obsession and craving, that we can taste but only once in a while, and unfortunately, only in one piece and one place at a time.