“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
The words written by J.R.R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring have been whittled down by many, particularly in the travel sphere, to simply “Not all those who wander are lost.” For simplicity, I personally have adopted the popular version which removes ‘those’ from the phrase.
Many see this as cliche, no doubt, to use both this specific phrase and to have a tagline or mantra in general. I can understand and respect that. However, the poem rings too true to my soul to not embrace it’s essence.
I have always loved writing. In my spare time, I wrote short stories and started novels for fun as a kid. Senior year of high school I even turned in a story I wrote for fun back in the sixth grade as an extra credit project. I rewrote bits and pieces and wrapped up an ending that I had never crafted. My teacher loved it and told me it seemed to end abruptly; as it should have seemed since my intention was for it to be a full novel rather than a 30 page story! I think that is the last time I wrote for enjoyment. After that it seemed I had to grow up, get serious about my future, and writing was not going to pay the bills unless I got lucky.
Life went on, I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science, married and divorced, dated, worked, and in general allowed myself to be swept along on the conveyor belt of adult life. I was so distracted that I hadn’t realized how far I deviated from my true happiness.
One day, I learned that a supervisor at my job, not much older than me, had developed a rare and incurable disease. He was an otherwise healthy individual; he worked out, ate well, was friendly to everyone, an all around great person. Within about three months, he had passed. It was a wake up call for me. I came home from work and cried regularly in those days because I was so unhappy. What was I doing with my life? What was going to be said about me at my eulogy? I made the decision to start making changes. That day I hopped off the hamster wheel that drives us to think material goods make us happy.
I started my travel blog as a hobby, and both an emotional and mental outlet for myself. I changed jobs to something that made me happier, working with people I still consider family though our office was closed nearly two years ago. Despite wanting to make writing more of a career than a hobby, I still struggled with needing to find a career path that would make an income to pay the bills and support my travel habit, versus buckling down on my writing to bring it to the quality worthy of being a career.
Now I am working part time as an administrative assistant, seeking freelance work, beefing up my social media skills, and allowing myself to write more freely. I may have to one day re-enter the 9 to 5 world, but I will not do so before I have made my most valiant effort to turn my passions into my life’s work. At least then I will know that I tried. I don’t want to look back and wonder ‘what if?’, and hopefully at my eulogy it will be said that I lived life to my fullest.
Regularly, I find that I have to defend my decision to jump off that hamster wheel. It is hard for people to grasp that money is not my main motivator. It’s something almost all of us have been conditioned to believe. When I start to believe the naysayers and feel that I’m alone in my views on life, I reach for my mantra so wonderfully written by Tolkien to bring me back to center. I am not lost, to wander is my happiness.