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I Wonder as I Wander
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From our orgins as a species, let’s say 7 million years ago, until the advent of farming and settlements, approximately 13,000 years ago, humans lived as hunter-gatherers, following the game and wild grains and ripening fruit from season to season and starving when the game starved and the fruits of the earth withered.

Surely those hundreds of thousands of years of nomadism living, surviving, as hunter-gatherers, must have left traces on our psyche and instincts buried deep in the brain. They are switched off now, or repressed, after 13,000 years of farming and herding—but might they not surface again in some individuals?

The symptoms would evince as a drive to wander from place to place, for no outward need, but from an inner wellspring of instinct and a drive to be in another place away from houses and stored grain and tamely slaughtered sheep. Perhaps that call to roam is what some “homeless” people heed, as does the wilderness man. Maybe some restless elderly, social constraints loosened, respond to the need to wander—as may some runaways of all ages.

In the other member of the animal kingdom, the changing of hunting area with the seasons, the migration to new grazing areas, the flight to another hemisphere to escape the cold weather, are well-understood phenomena. Even my cat, domesticated as she is, sleeps two to three weeks in one “nest” and then finds another spot around the house for another few weeks. It may take her months before she returns to the original spot.

I believe we see an analogous phenomenon in some humans. Some humans cannot bear to live under a roof and continually “escape” to the streets or the wilds. Many of us crave the off-the-beaten-path camping experience. Realtors tell me that three to five years is the usual term of a mortgage, then people sell and move, not necessarily upwardly mobile—just somewhere else. We surf the Internet; we dream of travelling when we retire

Why else would we have a saying about the grass being greener? It seems to me under the veneer of settled respectability the hunter-gatherer hearts still beat true to the flight of the game animal and the change of the seasons.

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