Between the ages of eighteen and thirty-seven, I moved thirteen times. That’s an average of once every year and a half. As I think back on those years, it doesn’t seem anywhere near that often. If I gave that number to my wife Manyu, she’d be shocked. She met me when I was thirty-seven, and in the twenty-eight years since then, she and I have moved a total of one time or three times, depending how you count. (We moved together from Taiwan to La Crosse, returned to Taiwan for a year, and then came back to La Crosse. Does that count as one move or three?)
I made this observation as I try to write a book chapter on groundedness vs. wanderlust. Specifically I am trying to answer the question of whether the two frames of mind generate a different connection with the natural world. So far the chapter is going nowhere, largely because I don’t know the answer and it might not make a bit of difference.
A connection with nature can be Peter Matthiessen scouring the Himalayas looking for a snow leopard. It can be Thoreau building and living in a shack a couple miles from home. It can be Jane Goodall, at the age of twenty-three, moving to a place total alien to her upbringing and then staying there for nearly fifty years. That’s a broad spectrum of approaches, yet each of these people’s love, commitment, attachment to the natural world are models for the rest of us. It is not so much whether one approach is better than another, but which one best fits our individual personalities. Here I sit, a stone’s throw from my sixty-fifth birthday, and I can’t answer that simple question.