Men And Their Wanderlust

James Anthony Ellis
Legacy Editor

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can
And when it’s time for leavin’
I hope you’ll understand
       ~ The Allman Brothers, “Ramblin Man”

Men and their wanderlust. The need to move. To groove. To lose themselves in order to find themselves.

The need to screw?

Maybe the need to have sex is part of this thing called wanderlust … but then again maybe it’s not necessary. There have been so many songs written about men and this apparent inherent need to grab a lover, have a one night stand, plant their seed, sow some wild oats and then move on!

It was an early morning yesterday
I was up before the dawn

And I really have enjoyed my stay
But I must be moving on
Like a king without a castle
Like a queen without a throne
I’m an early morning lover
And I must be moving on
    ~ Supertramp, “Goodbye Stranger”

Most of the tunes are tinged with a tone of sexual prowess, with a sense of detachment and notch-in-the-bedpost bravado. So would there be the adventure of a “travel story,” and would there be a successful trip without some romp in the hay? Maybe not. But maybe?

Even little Ricky Nelson’s hit in 1961 alluded to such a diverse adventure, though of course in the early 60s it came across tame and sweet, as if the time in the hay was spent rubbing noses and holding hands.

I’m a travelin’ man and I’ve made a lot of stops
All over the world
And in every part I own the heart
Of at least one lovely girl
~ Ricky Nelson, “Travelin’ Man

I mean what would Ozzie and Harriet think?

Such are the songs sung by the male side of the equation, but what of the lady’s side? Well of course, it’s not such a pretty tale.

That boy’s just a Walkaway Joe
Born to be a leaver
Tell you from the word “go”
Destined to deceive her
He’s the wrong kind of paradise
She’s gonna know it in a matter of time
That boy’s just a Walkaway Joe
    ~ Trisha Yearwood, “Walkaway Joe

And herein we just might have a problem.

The realm of relationships definitely reveals two opposing memes, stereotypical they may be.

  • The man – wanting to experience some lively variety sex, before leaving for the adventure of discovering some new pussy, playing the role of the free wheeling bachelor.
  • The woman – wanting to find a soul mate, settle down, lay down some roots, build a nest, playing the part of the “tender trap.” 

Is that really how it unfolds all the time? No, not all the time. Much of the time? Oh well, yeah, pretty much kinda.

Because of this basic difference in mentality, a man must be fully ready, prepared and “qualified” before he can venture into a long-term committed relationship.  

And perhaps before settling down, this is why a man must fulfill a very real need to be free to move about the country.

Not necessarily about sexual desires, a man must experience some sort of upward mobility. He must be able to find his sea legs, make his way, and discover himself through adventures – on the road to find out. It may start when the kid gets his first Big Wheel or Hot Wheel set, before he graduates to the bike and then his first car, his first “set of wheels.”

And off he goes.

The hunt is on.

The trip is underway. The journey begun. The pace car moves aside and the race starts.

From everything from climbing a mountain to taking a road trip to cruising the boulevard to backpacking Europe to experimental drugs to internal travels on meditative dreamscapes, the road is laid out before him.

And he must meet it. And take it.

The dictionary defines “wanderlust” as “a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.”

Yeah, that could cover it, though men may also need to move about the world with purpose. So maybe there is an underlying drive within this “wandering.” Perhaps as one wanders about, moving about, there is an eye open to discover a purpose along the way. Perhaps the actual “adventure” is the discovery of something of value.

The hunt is on.

But where are we going? Do we know? Do we ever know? Can we ever really know?

Perhaps knowing the destination ruins the entire venture, as no new discoveries can be made once plans are set in stone.

As the eternal nomad, men do have the need to keep the adventure alive, planting seeds, harvesting seeds, in one way or another.

Robert Louis Stevenson in Travels with a Donkey, wrote: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

It all comes down to autonomy, individual growth and freedom.

But wait! What about our little quandary found at the start of this article’s adventure? How does one move along, keep mobile, continue to create adventure, not get stuck in settling down, when in relationship with another? We don’t want to allow any moss to grow on this rolling stone. On some level, we want to be able to travel fastest as we travel alone.

So how do we include this need for relationship? Love em and leave em? Be the walkaway Joe? Or settle down and be a victim of the ole ball and chain? Are these the only two options, or is there a third option, a third entity and a third opportunity?

Maybe, just maybe, there is a way to take another along on some of these rides, these adventures. Maybe not all adventures, but enough of them to keep the exploration going, and to keep the spirit alive. As it so poetically states in one song of movement and freedom:

Wendy let me in, I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back
Oh, will you walk with me out on the wire?
`Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta know how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, babe
I want to know if love is real

    ~ Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run

3 thoughts on “Men And Their Wanderlust”

  1. Wanderlust is both mind and body constantly seeking and longing for adventure and pure excitement. The ego on full throttle. Once the fire goes out, however the lust is replaced with a sense of selflessness. The need for belonging and loving someone other than yourself.

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