The point is to cultivate openness, relaxation and awareness, which can include awareness of your undisciplined, wandering mind.
Andrew Weil, on meditation techniques
Confession: my name is not really Audrey Wanders. I know, I know. You’re both surprised and disappointed. Let me explain…
When I started my blog, I realized I would need a pseudonym of some kind. Since I teach in a public school, I have students and, yes, even parents who will Google teachers’ names. While I am in no way ashamed of my writing, I wanted to keep this part of my life private. Some of the content would be inappropriate for me to share in my role as a teacher.
I kept returning to a former pen name, Audrey Wanders. I used this as the title of a personal microblog I kept several years ago. The blog was just a way to keep my family up to date on a temporary yet transformative vagabond lifestyle. (In short summation, I spent six months couch surfing and living out of my truck). I called it a vagabond lifestyle because the definition fit perfectly at the time: “moving from place to place without a fixed home; wanderer.”
And that’s what I was: a vagabond, a wanderer.
I’m no longer wandering in the same way I was in 2012. But I’ve kept the name and redefined what wanders means to me.
To preface, I understand that wander has a negative connotation. To wander is often associated with being aimless or without purpose. You may think of someone without focus or direction or someone who isn’t really paying attention to anything in particular.
In direct contradiction, having an aim and purpose is integral to what it means to wander. To wander is to explore with an open and curious mind; to keep your eyes open; to look for the unique, the unusual, the unfamiliar… and to let curiosity lead you to new, unexpected opportunities. To wander is to be present in the world around you with unabashed curiosity—that same curiosity you had when you were a kid and, for most of us, that same curiosity weeded out of us as we became adults.
Wandering may appear to contradict this idea of intentional living. How can you know how to get what you want if you… don’t know what you want? How can you know you’ve found what you’re looking for if you… don’t know what you’re looking for? The biggest difference, however, between wandering and aimlessness is taking an active part in how you experience the world.
If I were Mike Campbell, this is the part where I’d challenge you to live immediately. If I were Jeff Sandquist, this is the part where I’d challenge you to intentionally wander. If I were Joel Zaslofsky, this is the part where I’d challenge you to curate your life into what you want it to be.
I’m Audrey Wanders, and this is the part where I challenge you to define what intentional living looks like to you, whether you’re living, wandering, curating, simplifying, or realigning.
Photograph © Jordan Whitt