Wanderlust of the Soul. ~ Steph Sanders

Via Steph Sanders on Sep 17, 2013

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It has taken years and several travel hiatuses for me to fall in love with my hometown city.

Since college I have gravitated towards a life off the beaten path, often struggling to remain stateside for too long. Yet, I have learned that it not necessary to travel to far away lands to be an adventurer.

This time around, I was able to depart with the utmost gratitude for my city, my experience, and all the amazing friends and family who contribute to my life in ways I can only begin to explain. I wasn’t leaving because I wanted to leave things behind but rather because I was drawn by a strange pull to explore the unknown; the unknowns of my self included.

I was talking to a close friend and fellow traveler about how there can be a misconception that people travel because they are searching for something. This may come in the form of searching for the love of your life in France, the perfect wave in Bali or the ultimate spring break in Cancun.

While there is nothing wrong with this and may have been the case for myself at one time, I would now have to disagree.

The idea of searching implies that I am looking for something that is lost or missing. In other words, there is something outside of myself that I must travel to in order to feel whole or complete.

Travel is more like a beautiful and often challenging process/experience of questioning and exploring. Perhaps a more apt and whimsical term is wanderlust, meaning a strong innate impulse or desire to travel the world.

I thrive and look forward to experiencing the sensory adventure (external) just as much as the emotional and spiritual (internal) journey. No safari, picturesque lake or hidden village will ever completely alter my internal landscape, for better or worse.

I travel to revel in the beauty of the world, find compassion for the ugly and the brutal and connect with human-kind until our conversations are no longer based on race, gender, socio-economic status or upbringing.

What is left is connection in its freest form, stemmed from understanding and love.

On a much more simple level, I love the first breath in a new land after a long plane ride. The sleepiness of the trip dissipates and you are immediately brought to the present moment; a pleasant uncertainty emerges, a new adventure awaits. This is followed by taking rides around foreign congested cities, which over the years I have taken a liking to.

There is something about the hustle and bustle, the raw flow of a city (today it is Kampala, Uganda) that I can appreciate. And finally, the first bite of a strange and sweet morsel, a new challenge for the palate (I am still eating my way through the world in an attempt to find something I can’t appreciate in one way or another).

My goal is to set foot in 30 countries by the time I turn 30 and at some point, spend time in all seven continents.

Uganda is my 20th county and Africa is my sixth continent visited, so relatively speaking I am not too far off from my goal. I like to think of the world as the ultimate playground, where no crevice is off limits. I figure I might as well let my passion, whether it be traveling, cooking, art, writing or even underwater basket weaving, be the catalyst for all great things to enter my life.

But as any traveler will tell you, the journey is just as good as the destination.

The journey gives us struggles that turn into stories, chance meetings that turn into life long friends and places that leave a permanent footprint on the soul.

Embrace the ride, breathe it in and let it unfold on step at a time. The view from the top is always the sweetest.

Travel on friends…

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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Bryonie Wise

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About Steph Sanders

Steph Sanders has an insatiable love affair with traveling and thrives from making cross cultural heart connections and experiencing new faces, places and culinary treats! She is currently working in the villages of Uganda for S.O.U.L.  Foundation (souluganda.org). She believes in saving the world, one random act of kindness after another. Despite being a happy world wanderer, home will always be nestled in the mountains of Colorado. She is also a yoga teacher who strives to live yoga on and off the mat. Read her blog at soul-panda.com.

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2 Responses to “Wanderlust of the Soul. ~ Steph Sanders”

  1. Darrell Jansa says:

    Steph:

    At 75 I keep saying I'm running out of places to go. I have not counted countries , continents.. or casinos.. But I suspect you have me beat…Your writing and adventures are always a joy to read and share. Keep up the random acts of kindness ! Darrell

  2. JR1220 says:

    Great goals "30 countries by the time I turn 30" – it is very important to travel early in life. I made it to Europe, Mexico, Canada and the Caymans before 30, so I consider myself VERY fortunate. At this point, I've had to downsize my list and don't know if I have time to get to some of the spots I would like to see (Ireland, Australia, Greece, Brazil, Alaska, Hawaii) – still think I can get to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, however.

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