Not All Who Wander Are Lost
By Dana Lardner

Languages and cultures have always been a fascination of mine. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to visit foreign places, exist in foreign spaces. I have been told repeatedly to slow down, put down some roots, and find a spot in the world to call my own. Every time I tried to heed this advice, however, it only seemed to stifle my creativity.

The challenge of ‘staying put’ had been something my head and heart had yet to reconcile until several years ago, when I spotted a bumper sticker in popular San Diego diner: “Not all who wander are lost.”

To this day, I find great solace in what I consider to be wisdom in two parts:

  1. Just because people may like to move to different places does not mean that they have not found their “place” in the world.
  2. Try not to apply judgment to things we may not understand.

So how does this apply to finding picture book inspiration? Regardless of if your bags are packed ready to hop on a plane to places unknown, or if you’ve lived in the same town since you were three years old, the bumper sticker is reminder to break out of the everyday patterns that often consume us.

We drive the same way to work. We read the same newspapers and blogs. We plan the same dinner menus week after week. How can we expect to see the world differently if we don’t change our daily perspective? If we don’t slow down and wander a little bit, how will we ever see what other grand things the world has to offer?

I therefore present the following suggestions to give you a jump start:

  • Change the route you take to the grocery store once in a while even if it takes you longer to get there. What stores or subtle nuances on the street didn’t you notice before?
  • If you typically drive a car, take public transportation. What types of people are riding with you and where do you think they’re headed?
  • Take your children to a new park on the other side of town. How do they interact with the other kids and the play structures differently than at their usual park?
  • Follow someone on Twitter or subscribe to a blog feed of someone who does not see the world in the way you do. What have they said that makes you stronger in your resolve or more open to new ideas?
  • Take a stroll around your neighborhood and be sure to walk on both sides of the street. Has the neighbor done something new to the yard?

Remember: Not all who wander are lost.

Where will you wander today?

Dana Lardner has a bag waiting by the door to travel at a moment’s notice. She is currently developing picture books that teach children about culture and difference while also keeping her belly laugh in shape with her line of motivational workout towels called Words to Sweat By™.