On Becoming a Nomad

About five years ago I was laid off from a swanky art director position in NYC, which was only the BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME. So much has changed since then that my life in New York feels like it was all a dream.

In the last few years I’ve been to 11 countries on three continents, moved my home base 3,000 miles away from everything I knew, and rediscovered my love of the outdoors.

I know, how could I ever forget that I love being outside? Blame it on those blinding city lights… 

A lot of freelance and a few interesting angles to make money have kept me going. I’ve learned that I prefer cheap countries where the native tongue is not English, where a meal on the street costs a dollar, beer is 50 cents, and a decent bed is ten bucks for the night.

Ultimately travel is what makes me happy. Seeing new mountains and seas, eating weird food, and meeting all kinds of interesting characters along the way.

These are my drugs of choice.

I don’t have the nomadic lifestyle totally figured out yet, but I’m definitely getting better at it. One way tickets are the way to go. Two days in a place is only for a shithole stopover on the way to somewhere better. A three month time limit is cutting yourself short.

These are the most basic of things I’ve learned about being a nomad.

I’m most comfortable when out of my comfort zone. I can sleep anywhere except on planes. I can find something to talk about with anyone. Even if they don’t speak much English. It’s amazing what body language can do when verbiage fails.

These are the skills I’ve developed on the road.

Yet as I get my shit in order to head to India for yoga, skiing, climbing, and whatever else I find myself getting into over there, I’m finding myself somewhat sentimental and sad to leave. This is a rare state to find myself in. I’ve gotten pretty good at staying present and accepting that change is the only constant.

But over the last seven months I have found myself on all kinds of crazy awesome adventures around the Pacific Northwest with some of the best people around. Not to mention there is world class everything concerning the activities I love.

Perhaps this is a classic case of FOMO?

Yet it’s not enough to keep me here. The alternative to going is staying.

And staying isn’t an option. Even if it would make everyone else more comfortable. Do you know how unsettling it is for everyone when you don’t have a 5 year plan? When they ask you a question and your answer is simply “I don’t know?”

Americans love labels and putting things into tidy little boxes. I’ve gotten pretty good at making up answers which, admittedly, is kind of a shame. But I’ve found it’s easier than saying no, I don’t know when I’ll be back and I only have a vague plan of what I’ll be doing while I’m away.

Everything here is too familiar and I find myself becoming complacent. At the moment I have very little responsibility and no one to answer to. If I were to stay, no doubt I’d find things to keep me here longer. India would become a “coulda, woulda, shoulda.”

And that is a depressing thought.

Perhaps someday I’ll be ready for a bit more stability. To live in one place for awhile. To visit my family for the holidays rather than a random week whenever I happen to be in the country.

But, for now, I would only disappoint my future 85 year old self who would wonder why I did not choose the path of unknown adventures.