Alannah is a recent graduate from the University of Wyoming with backgrounds in environmentalism, international studies, photography and cooking. She is passionate about the intersections of her interests and continuously finds value in deeper explorations into the connections that weave us and our environments together. Alannah is currently traveling the West Coast, exploring new places and herself. She hopes to share her journey, healing, questions and connections with readers here and beyond!

On Home, Travel, and Here

I am currently a month into my travels. After graduating college I couldn’t fathom jumping into more school or a traditional job. I made the choice to travel through the Pacific Northwest, a region I had never been to that seemed to be calling me. This adventure has been nothing short of transformative. I am experiencing an accelerated pace of life paired with deep, consistent relaxation that I have only seen glimpses of before. The flow of fast lessons and deep peace shows me so much about myself and the world I am inhabiting every day. 

Today, I was captivated by the ideas of home and here and what that means for lifestyles like the one I am currently following that are not tied down by a physical home. As the world changes, we are less tied to one place, for better and for worse. With the ease of remote work that has continued after it became a global necessity, more people are finding themselves in situations where they are living lives less grounded in single locations. As I have learned this month, this way of life can be deeply rewarding and also extremely challenging. 

You are Here

This line of thinking was sparked by an episode of a podcast called Poetry Unbound where the poem Lost by David Wagoner was read and analyzed. The poem opens with,

 “Stand still.

The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost. 

Wherever you are is called Here, 

and you must treat it as a powerful stranger, 

must ask permission to know it and be known.” 

I was listening to this podcast as the dogs I am watching were dragging me through a forest in central Oregon. To their dismay, the words stunned me and I had to stop and listen again, tuning into the forest around me rather than just passing through as I usually do. I began to realize that though my life is fleeting and changes drastically every week, the places I visit are not changing, they are not lost. 

I suddenly began to remember the feelings that captivated me when I visited the Redwood Forests. I couldn’t help but think about the beauty in the dichotomous tension of a fleeting young traveler and the sedentary stability of old growth forests. We exist in each other’s world for only a moment and yet I felt like I was able to peer into the power of place through these massive trees, and through imagining the extensive root systems under them. These forests are powerful strangers providing moments of home outside of houses. In their presence I felt held and still in a way that I don’t usually during my travels. 

As this poem reminded me, each place I find, whether it’s a forest, new housesit, or new city has threads of belonging if I am open to meet that entity where it is. If I approach experiences with curiosity and understanding that this is the place that I am right now, that this is Here, I am gifted with complete, full mindful presence, in myself and the powerful stranger in front of me. 

The Power of Being Lost

Often, I get swept away by the stream of newness and duty to explore in each place I end up instead of settling into being completely present. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the vastness of this world and the insignificance of my life within it. I often feel lost. Today, through this poem, I began to make peace with being lost, with being undefined. 

Choosing to travel instead of moving somewhere and working was me choosing uncertainty. I chose to inhabit undefined space and wait and see who I am and what my purpose in this world is. For the first time in my life, I chose not to have answers and not to have a direction. I chose to be lost and now as I navigate this constantly unfolding space I am challenged to be here, wherever that may be, and to make peace with creating the roadmap as I go. I am learning to trust that while I do not know where this road leads, everything meant for me will find me. I am learning to love the unpredictability and the opportunity inherent in being lost. The poem ends with, 

“the forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”

Lessons Beyond Travel

This poem hit me in very specific ways based on my situation and I am amazed at the applicability beyond travel, beyond forests. Wagoner is challenging and inviting us to engage in life aware of energy outside of ourselves. Going forward I am hoping to approach situations with this mindset. I want to stand still with space, new and old, and be open to the world that that space has come to know. Through this exercise I am recognizing both that everything in that physical place has had an entire existence beyond me and that in this exact moment our realities are intertwined, for us both this moment in time and space is here and now and there is such deep beauty in the undefined potential of this exact moment. That is true presence. 

“Seeing what is at home in the place where you call lost. That might be the thing that realizes that you are not lost and that there is a way forward.” –Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound