Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Coddiwompling. Even the definition sounds wonderful. Coddiwompling means to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

Doesn’t that sound like me and my desire to walk the Pacific Crest Trail? (Or any long distance trail, actually. I just want to take a very, very, very long walk.) I don’t really have a need to walk one place or another, just to walk purposefully toward some vague destination. Though, if I ever get to the point of actually going on a backpacking trip, that destination will probably not be vague — I will, of course, need to know where the trail is going and have an approximate idea of how long it will take me to get there.

So maybe coddiwompling isn’t the right word for my aspirations, though my true destination is more spiritual, and that certainly is vague. How does one know what sort of spiritual destination one is heading toward, or what one will gain from a vision quest? That part, for sure, is about traveling purposefully toward a vague destination.

And this whole impetus to saunter the world, for all its purposeful preparation, is vague. I will be doing a solo backpacking trip while in Washington State this May, probably just for a few days, to dip my toes into the backpacking pool (figuratively speaking, of course — I truly do not like crossing water on foot, not even creeks or rivulets, and I truly do not like hiking in wet socks and shoes! So not fun). Then, a longer backpacking trail in the fall.

And then? Who knows. Either I will have had my fill of adventure, or I will be so addicted that I continue to coddiwomple.

I once read an article that claimed it is the pain we are willing to sustain, the pain we want in our life that determines our happiness. I don’t like pain of any kind, but so far, whatever pain has come from coddiwompling in the desert, is pain I am willing to embrace for my greater good. Luckily, many of the rewards of walking come from effort and dedication and concentration rather than sustained pain. (Though carrying a twenty-two-pound pack for five miles last weekend certainly brought its share of soreness!)

It seems weird to still be talking about aspirations, about things I am going to do rather than what I have already done, and yet, what I have already done is . . . done. It’s the traveling purposefully toward a vague and unknown destination that I find so compelling.

So, coddiwomple on!


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

17 Responses to “Coddiwompling”

  1. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 80 years; well I’m relieved to know that its not fatal 😈 🐻

  2. Terry Allard Says:

    Ron and I planned to do a retirement road trip following Rt.66 but we never got the chance as he died nine months into our retirement. We’d drive stopping along the way as the mood and desire hit us. After completing our careers in teaching we wanted to get way from EVERYTHING needing a goal, a plan, a series of sequenced steps. I guess we choose coddiwompling without knowning the word. I am and will be forever sad we lost our chance and maybe someday I will go alone but coddiwompling changes its appeal solo. Bring someone else? Even sadder.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That is sad. The thing no one understands about the death of one’s spouse is that all those shared dreams die too. One reason I’m into hiking is that we so seldom did. And we never backpacked, so it’s something just for me. I know someone in your situation who eventually went on the planned trip anyway as a memorial to her husband. But yes, I can see that traveling solo isn’t all that appealing. In my case, though, it’s going alone or not going at all, and I’m still to restless and fearful of stagnation to not go. Life sure does a number on us, doesn’t it? Especially when you think of the tens of thousands of couples who did get to travel together after they retired. Not fair.

  3. Lois Gayman Says:

    I love the word!


  4. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    Reblogged this on LordBeariOfBow and commented:
    Who doesn’t like new words; even if they’re probably older than I am, this one’s a beauty and I hope you enjoy it too.
    One for Derrick, and I’ll be tickled pink if it’s a new one on him 😛

  5. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    A great post! A great word! A great adventurous way to enjoy life!
    Yes, coddiwomplers should keep coddiwompling!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: