Andrew Rowe / Contributor
Andrew Rowe traveled across the United States for three months to volunteer in homeless shelters in cities with some of the largest homeless populations. “If I do nothing more than to raise awareness, change someone’s opinion about homelessness for the better, or even give a voice to someone who needs to be heard, my journey will be well-spent.”
The “wanderlust” is alluring; for good reason. Our youth is filled with the dreams of adventure, travel and the unknown. Effortlessly, we learn of the great explorers, hear of the Acts of the Apostles, and see glamorous Hollywood recreations of historic undertakings. In our adulthood, it becomes evermore prevalent. The internet, social media, or otherwise, bombard us with images of exotic people, locations, and cultures. What the heart does not have, it will soon desire. I desired it.
"Some of what I yearned for, I was finding, but it always seemed like the real answers I craved lay just out of reach. My journey was not complete."
When I was two months out of college, I was on the road for three weeks. I traveled by myself, thinking it would give me some time to grow independently of others. I sought answers to big questions. No more was I constrained to theories, teaching methods, and the superego. I was a child again. Learning without bias and meeting without judgment. Each town I passed through gave me the opportunity to learn another lesson. Everything I had heard about travel was true. I was hooked.
Week by week, my adventure continued. One month, four cities total. Two months, ten cities. By month three, I was rounding out at eleven. In every new location, I was dreaming about my jaunt in the next city. In Chicago, I was thinking about Boston. In Boston, New York City. In New York City, Asheville. Some of what I yearned for, I was finding, but it always seemed like the real answers I craved lay just out of reach. My journey was not complete.
"Then, it hit me."
Fast forward six months. I was (and still am) living in Charleston, South Carolina. The charm of living in a new city had worn off. Summer was over. My new office-bound life was, at the time, mundane. I wanted to be back on the road. I romanticized thoughts of quitting, running away, and starting over again. I still longed to find the last piece of the puzzle that had so readily escaped me on my first go. Travel had provided me fond memories, new faces, and unique experiences, but no big answers. What was I looking for?
Then, it hit me. It hit me in form of our lead engineer who has worked one job his whole life, but has created software that has helped millions of people. It hit me in the form of my parish’s deacon who decided to forgo his retirement of fishing and leisure, in order to minister to the people of his congregation. It hit me in the form of my father and mother who worked hard for 25 years to provide me and my brother with a loving home and a good education. The community, the impact, the place in the world that I longed for revealed itself in them. Their humble wisdom and everyday enlightenment did not rely on being nomadic, rather they fully engaged themselves in their work and invested time into those around them. They may never see the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”, but will live a life that has truly shaped the world.
So what am I saying? Never go anywhere? Of course not! Should one travel to experience a different culture? I encourage it! Can we try to find out more about ourselves through travel? A thousand times, yes! What I am saying is this. The desire to always be somewhere, i.e. the “wanderlust”, can quickly throw us into a state of thrill-seeking limbo. If we always desire our next journey, we forget about the adventure that is put in front of us every day. What our heart desires may be “out there”, but there is a good chance that it is in front of us every day.
For more on Andrew's journey visit www.humanityforthehomeless.com.
July 3, 2017