Thoughts On A Nomadic Life.

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It’s strange being settled for a while. We thought we’d be in Amsterdam for three months. Turns out it will be six. That’s the longest we’ve stayed anywhere in the last eight years.

There are many advantages – for a while I have a semblance of routine. ‘Autumn is a time to let go’ my yoga newsletter told me. I don’t have any problem with letting go. My life is one long round of letting go. My problem is more ‘holding on to’. For me life is in constant flux, always changing. I love the variety, the freedom, the chance to look at things from a different point of view. ‘That’s my idea of a nightmare’, said the homeowner in Bath as she took me to do a shop in the local supermarket. She knew where everything was. I walked up and down each aisle three times looking for a can of beans.

Routine – a blessing or a curse? If you’re always in the same place is it easier to get stuck? If you’re always moving, are you rootless?

Possessions help many people to feel anchored. ‘I couldn’t live like you’, a friend told me ‘I’d hate wearing the same clothes every day’. I have very little. No home. No car. No smartphone. A change of clothes. A couple of books. A few things I could never part with stashed in a friends attic – a family bible, grandma’s art deco style tea cups, photos and old journals. Far from feeling bereft, I feel unencumbered. It’s life stripped back, bare to the bone. But I lack nothing. Conversely I feel connected more than ever to everything – myself, nature, the world and everyone in it. Stripping away non-essentials has got me down to the nitty-gritty – myself, my feeling and intuition. I have gained confidence in myself, gotten to know myself better, and know that I could depend on myself if the chips were down. That is quite some grounding.

Flexibility is also key to connection. It’s a cliché, but I don’t sweat the small stuff any more – or at least much less than I used to. We share some gorgeous homes; sometimes there is something I miss, something I would have differently if it were mine – but that’s a trade-off for our way of life. Practicalities can also be difficult when life is lived on the move. Doctor and dentist appointments, admin. – it could be overwhelming. Creativity, trust that it will work out, and that all important gut feeling get me through.

Knowledge gives me security. Looking stuff up, researching, reading, putting myself in someone else’s shoes – all of this gives me a sense of the wider world. I am just a tiny cog in a great big wheel; what I do affects someone else, somewhere else, even if I can’t see it or feel it.

And my friends lend me weight – in the nicest possible way. We see each other less but the connection is just as real. The feeling that people care about me gives me a place in the world. I am not alone. I belong. It’s great, for a while, to be in a place where I may bump into someone I know in the street, where people call me up to ask if I want to do something. I am included – for the next few months, literally and physically.

So a wandering existence doesn’t need to be rootless, just as a settled one does not need to be a stuck one. Nothing’s perfect, everything has pro’s and con’s. For the next few months, I’ll be enjoying being in one place. Amsterdam. A place that feels like home, a place so familiar, but yet so vibrant that there’s always something new to discover. I can already find the beans in the supermarket!

 

12 thoughts on “Thoughts On A Nomadic Life.

  1. This is sort of related to what I wrote about last week. The idea of being fixed or living out of a backpack on the road. I don’t know what it is like to travel as a long-term nomad, but I imagine it is nice to have a place to settle down at least for a while. We need flexibility in our plans and understand that sometimes we need to stop moving for a while.

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  2. I agree. We always feel when we need to stop for a while. Being in touch with your feelings is super important. Also the realisation that nothing is set in stone, and it’s OK to mix things up.

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  3. I got you, Tracey. That was the feeling when during my last visit in Istanbul as tourist. despite my passion on wandering around, that time, I decided that next time when I come to Istanbul, I will be the resident instead of traveler. Well, now it’s almost two years and I still enjoy my stay since there are so many that I haven’t discovered yet.

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  4. I relate to much of this – being divested of all (most of) the stuff and being content with little is freeing in the end. Don and I have been settled back in Vancouver for a year now but it’s just a phase I think. I’m off to Japan and China May/June and we’ll travel together again probably in the fall. It feels good to have a home again but with a new found gratitude for having/needing little. And being able to find the beans 🙂
    Alison

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    1. Gosh, that year has flown by. Staying put for a while is taking stock, I guess and becoming more aware, and all those layers of coming and going, moving and staying compress to a big fat wodge of thankfulness for all. Wow. Japan and China! Where? I am looking forward to your blogs already.

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      1. Travelling solo and independently in Japan – Tokyo, Shirakawa-Go, Kyoto, Osaka, then doing a 3 week tour with Intrepid in China – Beijing to Hong Kong. Oh definitely yes – a big fat wodge of thankfulness for it all! I love that.

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