Monday, March 2, 2015

FFA Week and Das Fernweh

Into the state officer house I trudged, arms laden with luggage. I dropped my things at the foot of my bed, and proceeded to change into sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Then, I flung myself onto my bed and let out a deep sigh. I was home at last. After eight days on the road for FFA week, I was home. As it ceaselessly does, my to do list for the next day started forming in my mind. Something odd struck me, though—I didn’t have one. There was almost nothing that I needed to do the next day. I could wear sweatpants for twenty-four hours uninterrupted. I could sleep until I wasn’t tired anymore. I could drink coffee and read books to my heart’s content. For the first time in weeks I would be able to relax. My fatigued body was overjoyed. But, my mind was conflicted. I was happy to be home. However, there was part of me that still longed for the road. My mind drifted off to a time only a few days before…
It was late, maybe 11:00 p.m. I was on the interstate, rushing through space and time at seventy-five miles per hour. The radio was off, as it often is when I drive alone. Only the engine noise and the road noise consoled me and my churning thoughts. Chief among my thoughts was the list of things I had to do when I reached my destination. I needed to write a speech; I needed to memorize that speech; I needed to write presentation curriculum; I needed to respond to emails, and I needed to be up at 4:30 the next morning to again get on the road. I was tired. It had been a long day, and there was still a lot of it left. Tomorrow would prove to be no shorter. However, despite my fatigue, I found my situation to be utter bliss. The traveling and the presenting was taxing, but I absolutely loved it. Speeding down the dark and empty interstate that night, I hoped it would never end. Tired as I was, I hoped it would never end.
In German there is a word, Fernweh, that has no perfect English translation. It is sometimes described as a homesickness for somewhere else. It is that feeling that makes you want to go somewhere, anywhere. Sometimes we English speakers use the word wanderlust in its place. Laying in my bed after the conclusion of FFA week, safe and sound in the state officer house with nothing but relaxation and recuperation on the schedule, I found this fernweh eating at my conscience.
Perhaps it is because I’m nineteen and am yet unburdened by “grown up responsibilities.” Perhaps it is a pathological fear of becoming sedentary, and falling into a routine. Perhaps it is merely an inborn fondness of being on my way to somewhere, to meet someone, or do something. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms are obvious. I love being on the road. This year I have had countless incredible opportunities to crisscross what seems like every road in Indiana. In the depths of my conscience I know that in just a few short months my journey as a state officer will end, but I can only hope that my travels will not. Here’s to us that wish never to stand still. Here’s to those of us possessed with das Fernweh.

I don’t wish to outrun my youth
I’m fighting no sort of battle
I just long to see scenes sweeping past—
Past these long straight roads I travel

I’m not seeking some great truth
I’m not fleeing some great rabble
I merely crave the movement
Down these long straight roads I travel

Forever Moving Forward,
Jacob Mueller
2014-2015 Southern Region Vice President 

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