Wandering by Hermann Hesse (translated by James Wright)
This collection finds our narrator, storyteller, poet, and wanderer reinfused with life, as wanderlust pursued promises a breaking away from the fetters of his previous life and ‘reality’, “where things that count are profession, law, fashion, finance”.
Along the way he makes that reconnect with the living world and is reborn – and is validated in his disconnect and remove from living that life that wasn’t his own.
However, as various signs, symbols, and landmarks are encountered and experienced through the reflection and feeling of the ever-yearning soul, pangs of nostalgia are awakened, and doubt begins to cloud that clarity of feeling and knowledge hitherto enjoyed.
It becomes clear that those shackles and things that cause him pain, which he had thought escaped or discarded, were a part of him that had brought him here and would accompany him forever as the price for who he is – and the beauty of life and his life.
Happiness, fulfilment, and contentment are in all lives; as is acceptance of yourself, of your foibles and flaws, and your weaknesses and maladies.
Here the wanderer realises the need for acceptance, that he may forever be a wanderer, vacillating figuratively and literally from here to there – and that life lies and is reflected everywhere, within and without. Peace awaits where vacillation and contradiction die, though the path may be found through that acceptance.
As travellers and wanderers, and as human-beings, there is much that strikes a chord here and speaks to you as both inner-voice and friend. And as any of us is flawed, as an honest account of the human, this is similarly flawed – and that’s where its beauty shines.
It’s a declaration of one human-being to another on what it means to be alive, where joy and sorrow, fear and doubt, hope and yearning, love and beauty, lie within and without – and how peace can be found between all poles.