We Know the Way

I was sitting in my office the other day, and the song We Know the Way, from the Moana soundtrack came on. This presented a problem because the song always brings tears to my eyes.
This song speaks to me on a soul level, because it is about me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ancient Polynesian seafarer, I’m not even from a place near the sea, but I am a Voyager. I grew up on tales of Shackleton, Lewis and Clark, Stanley and Livingston, the Voortrekkers, and the French Voyageurs. I am the spiritual descendant of anyone who ever looked at the horizon and said, “why can’t I go there”.
Sadly, I live in an era when nomads are boxed in by borders and voyagers are thought of as unstable people who “just need to settle down”. Some were created to stay where they were born to sow and reap and multiply, but some are called to be wanderers.
I think many people in my generation feel the need to wander, and we get written off as “damn millennials”, or “dreamers” or “selfish idealists who won’t conform”. I have had a few well-meaning people tell me that they essentially think I’m crazy because I’m 33 and I haven’t settled down to a career (I have career, contrary to popular belief (I’m an English teacher)), and a house (and a mortgage), and a wife and kids. I have tried twice to please people and move back to the U.S. and begin the process of settling down and both times it nearly killed me. There is a quote that says: “There is a point in life where you either need to travel or commit suicide”.
So what is a boy to do? Follow his heart, that’s what. There are a couple of lines in We Know the Way, that says: “We read the wind the and sky when the sun is high. We sail the length of the seas, on the ocean breeze. At night we name every star, we know where we are. We know who we are, who we are”(that’s the bit that always makes me cry).
The great patriarch Abraham was a settled man living in his father’s household with his wife when God showed up and told him to go wandering. Never once did God tell Abraham to settle down, build a house, or find a job with great security and a 401k. In fact, God promised to give Abraham territory, which to a nomad means space to wander. I figure that if God is good with the father of his people wandering around, then he probably doesn’t mind if I do too.
We have the tendency to get stuck inside borders imposed on us by other people. These borders have very little to do with our own beliefs and desires, and everything to do with other people’s hang-ups. Thor Heyerdahl, the leader of the Contiki Expedition and one of the great modern voyagers, once said: “Borders? I have never seen one, but I have heard they exist in the minds of some people”. Sometimes we must trust that we know the way and set out to be who we want to be, who we have to be. Borders be damned, we know the way.


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