Today, we’re doing something different. Last year, I stumbled across a number of articles talking about recent findings about the risk gene. Apparently, people who travel a lot are predisposed to it because we’re risk takers and have this gene. I thought “Cool! Scientific proof my wanderlust is really in my genes”! So when my friend Kayt told me about her new book The Art of Risk: The Science of Courage, Caution, and Chance, that dealt with the subject, I thought it would be wonderful to have her write an article all about the science of wanderlust. I’ve known Kayt for years and she’s one of the best writers I know. She’s someone I look up to and I’m excited to have her write for this website. So, let’s take a break from our normal travel articles, and get our nerd on!
When I was in college, an acquaintance, Dave, won a prestigious engineering fellowship. When I congratulated him, he informed me that he was going to refuse it. I was shocked. The fellowship offered him substantial funding for his research plus a year’s stay in Italy. Why on earth would he refuse such an adventure?
“Why would I want to go to Italy?” he replied when I asked him. “Everything I need is right here in Pittsburgh.”
I don’t think I could have been more shocked if he had told me he was pregnant with kittens. But he was deadly serious. He had been born and raised about an hour’s drive from the city. He came to Pittsburgh for college and then stayed on for graduate school. He went on to tell me that he had never, in his 26 years, set foot outside of the state of Pennsylvania. And he didn’t feel any sort of compulsion to do so. I wanted to cry at the thought of him giving up a year in Italy. And, I won’t lie — I actually thought he might be insane.