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Apr 17, 2019 22:32:14

Wandergrief, the aftermath of wanderlust

by @jasonleow | 440 words | 411🔥 | 449💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 411🔥
Total posts: 449💌
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There's got to be a word to describe the feeling of disorientation, overall sadness, reverse culture shock one feels after coming back from a particularly transformative travel experience.

For fun, I'm calling it wandergrief, the aftermath of wanderlust.

I heard it gets easier to recover from emotional malaise if you recognise it and give it a name. So there. 


It's been a difficult week since I came back from Kyoto. I spent 3 weeks there alone. Learnt a beautiful traditional Japanese craft called kintsugi - the art of repairing ceramics with gold. I immersed in the beauty of spring, and feasted on the blossoming of sakura. I got enchanted by the extraordinary ordinary of just living a local life there. 

Most importantly, since coming back, I realised what the trip had done to me. It nurtured a calming silence that I carried within me, in my heart - so silent, I didn't realise it until I came back home where it's 'noisier'. What started off as a whisper had become an almost roaring silence within. That sense of calm and centeredness was unusual and uncanny, because I seldom feel this way while traveling. It's easier to feel high energy (or high anxiety/uncertainty, depending) while traveling, isn't it? But to deepen into a grounding sense of calmness through the 3 weeks, felt very strange indeed.

I'm still trying to make sense of it. How did it come about? Did it start from those meditative mornings when I did kintsugi with the teacher, in a studio that's more Zen temple than workshop? Was it sustained by those lovely quiet moments sipping on delicious coffee while having the whole cafe to myself? Could it be the time spent cycling, running, strolling, chilling out along the Kamo River, with sunlight dappling through sakura trees, cool breeze brushing through my hair? Or was it those moments of solo silence at home in the evenings, writing my heart away on this 200wad?

I don't know for sure. But whatever, I did, it felt good. So good, in fact, I'm back here now, in Singapore, but I feel like I left my heart in Kyoto.  


I think when one aspires to transformative travel, such will be the unhappy fate in the aftermath of it. Trips that were more about mere consumption, never did that to me. But on trips where I sought to learn, aspired to be challenged, looked within deeply, and opened myself up to be vulnerable and to be irreversibly changed - those trips are hard to recover from. Those trips give me wandergrief.

Anyone has any hangover remedies for wandergrief? Could so use one right now.

From Jason Leow's collection:



  • 1

    @jasonleow I don't have any remedies, but welcome them also, as 4 1/2 days of Iceland wasn't nearly enough. Even so there are soooo many other places to experience and seemingly soooo few opportunities to do so.

    Jeff Riddall avatar Jeff Riddall | Apr 17, 2019 15:18:49
    • 1

      @Rawhead welcoming them seems like a good remedy in itself. ;)

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Apr 18, 2019 21:49:15
  • 1

    @jasonleow Start planning the next trip! The last paragraph really sums it up. Nicely written.

    Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Apr 17, 2019 07:40:24
    • 1

      @brandonwilson thanks! yes planning the next one there sounds like the perfect cure haha. Nothing like hope to wash over grief

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Apr 18, 2019 21:50:05
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