Edit Blog Post
Published: March 11th 2015
When people ask me why I travel, I often say it’s because of my Viking blood. Turns out I may have been closer to the truth than I realized.
A couple of months ago I’m on a first date with a perfectly nice man; let’s call him John Doe. We are in a coffee shop (OK, it’s Starbucks, but I like their espresso) in Carlsbad, California. He is nice looking, smart, financially secure, and age-appropriate for me. And single. We had taken a few classes together, but didn’t know each other well. Since he didn’t look like an axe murderer or a serial killer (and did I mention he was single?) I readily agreed when he asked me for coffee.
This particular coffee shop is right under the flight path of the Palomar-McClellan Airport in Carlsbad. I like watching planes take off, even if I get itchy feet just looking at them. The beginning of any trip holds such possibilities, and seeing planes and airports always sets me dreaming.
Before he retired, John had traveled extensively as part of his job. Most of his trips had been outside of the US, and many of them had been to
third world countries. I was intrigued, and figured I might just have found someone who shared my passion for travel.
However, my hopes were dashed by his next statement in which he told me that he had done all his travelling while he was working, and had no interest in taking any more trips – even for fun. A weekend getaway, maybe, but no international travel, and certainly nothing without a fixed itinerary. “Well,” I said, “I travel. You can come with me, or you can drive me to the airport, but I’m not going to stop travelling.”
Fast forward to early March of this year; I’m reading Seth Miller’s blog “The Wandering Aramean” when he references an article in National Geographic published in January of 2013 titled “The Restless Genes.” Turns out my yearning for travel and exploration is not just a passing whim; I was born this way! The gene DRD4 helps control dopamine, and the variant DRD4-7R has been tied to curiosity and restlessness. About 20% of the population carries the DRD4-7R variant. When this is paired with a second genetic variant, 2R, well, you are pretty much hard wired for wanderlust.
the origins of humans lies in Africa, a study by Dr. Chuansheng Chen of the University of California conducted 1999 supported the theory that this variant was more prevalent in people who migrated out of Africa, and that those groups that had migrated the furthest were more likely to carry this gene than what could be expected by chance. Of course, this one gene alone cannot be the sole driver of my urge to explore. You have to have the ability and the means to explore as well.
Now, I’m not about to have my genome sequenced anytime soon, but I found the possibility of a “wanderlust gene” to be pretty interesting.
If you grew up watching “Adventures in Paradise,” if you actually like hanging around airports, or if you have “Travelin’ Shoes” on your mp3 player, welcome to the tribe. We probably have an ancestor in common lost somewhere in the mists of time. And isn’t it nice to know that you are one of a select group?
Tot: 2.652s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 17; qc: 34; dbt: 0.0237s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb