Upon first impression, I am often labeled a free spirit. Flighty. Admittedly, I am a bit of each of these. But really, I am someone who flows in the directions that move me. Being free spirited is embracing your ability to roam at any given moment and being true to the calling of the nomad. Nomadism is the desire to roam. To connect deeply in order to experience new things whole heartedly at any given moment, anywhere you are. True nomadism is a way of being, a spiritual connection not a lifestyle. On the surface, this is why it perceives to be flighty, free. Because you make deep connections. You then take bits of each connection with you, leave bits behind and without hesitation, sometimes with tear filled eyes, continue on your journey of forever seeking the roam, the road, the discovery.
People ask often if I travel a lot. It’s a matter of perspective. Depending on who or what you’re comparing my explorations to, and your definition of travel, the answer is yes or no. I need stability and a fixed place to call home, but equally, I need to get out my comforts and routines often to stay grounded and make sense of the world. I like daily familiarities: living in a neighborhood, going to the same coffee shop to small talking with the baristas and regulars, putting my belongings in certain places and cooking my own meals. But, my soul craves and demands a necessity to get outside of the grind and away from everything known and comfortable. To sink into the driver’s seat of my Jeep and just drive. Sometimes with a specific destination and plan, but often, just getting behind the wheel, heading in a general direction and figuring things out along the way has proven the best medicine to any ailment I’ve faced.
I used to think that nomad was an action, a lifestyle. They roamed endlessly. And that in order to live this way, you had to release the need and comfort in the staying. But as I’ve traveled more places, seen more things and met more people, nomadism has been revealed as a way of being. It’s deeper than action, it’s spiritual. Ritualistic. A way of living. And this way of living isn’t exclusive to roaming the Earth. It’s an exchange set deep inside that is fulfilled when familiarities are replaced with the discovery of unknowns. Growth and progress, in oneself and in the impacts made in the world you able to touch. And the growth, progress and impact brings contentment.
In my eyes, this is what true nomadism is. And this is what draws us to the open roads, to booking flights and to discovering new culture, places and people.
Since the moment I got my first car and was able to drive, I formed a habit of quickie road trips and day escapes to get outside the grind and commit to a new place and perspective for a period of time. Sometimes just for a few hours, cruising alone, getting outside of my day to day duties and sinking into my head through the melodies of music, meditating to the rotation of the tires on paved roads. In the sacred space of my vehicle, I have found the answers to all things.
A few months back, Jeep Zeus took a hit and every since, has been struggling with getting back into action and being the fearless road warrior he’s been built to be. We’ve had countless visits to the shop, repairs and misdiagnosis. All of which has deflated a bit our confidence in the ability to fearlessly and aimless wandering places we’ve yet to see.
Admittedly, this has been a big challenge for me – mentally, emotionally, even physically. Being forced for the time being to stay stagnate and re-wire my decompression response of road tripping in order to prioritize long term goals over short term gratifications. Spending the last two months stationery has forced me to halt my heart’s desire of it’s self-defined freedom of open roads. I have been forced to settle into a practice of patience and persistence. To sit and wait.
When things are flowing smoothly, it’s easy to say, if you want something, you prioritize to make it happen. But what about when the details just don’t line up with your timeline and urgency? What do you do when the shifting of finances, saying no’s when you want to say yes and the tough decisions of cutting back or cutting out in order to progress maybe don’t come in the timeline that you’re seeking?
I’ve been confronting this, mentally, and quite literally, physically without much choice over the last months. And at first it seemed unnatural and cruel to my nomad spirit. As if I was paddling upstream, going against the grain. This challenge of staying stationary arose many insecurities, doubts and personal conflicts that before I was able to conquer in a few hours of roaming the roads. And this has forced me to find resolution in discovering what I am capable of doing when things are outside of my control.
Discovering in my familiarities the things I’ve for many years connected to things unknown to me has been a saving grace, and I think holds many truths that you’d never find on the open road. It’s easy to see progress and change when you’re constantly moving. Because not only do things seem to naturally shift by default with motion; but your perspective shifts because you’re constantly seeing and doing something new. The discomforts of evolution connected to time are limited because you don’t have to wait. You are fluid and flowing free.
But what do you do when you don’t have the option of limitless fluidity? When you must sit and wait. How does a free-spirit find contentment and tame the cravings of the nomad spirit when you’re not able to freely move?
You connect deeply to yourself, in your space and commit to the movement within the of passing of time. And in these commitments, you will find your truths. That your roots are planted deeper than in the necessity to roam. That really, the cravings you’ve been fulfilling through flighty exploration, miles covered on open roads, flights booked and new places discovered actually had nothing to do with roaming.
Through this, I’ve discovered that the things we seek in seeing something new are not really about the unseen world outside of us, but are really about the reveal of things undiscovered within yourself that we often find when traveling. That self-discovery isn’t tied to disconnecting from the familiars, but to diving deeper into the unknowns of yourself. This comes easily when you shake up the routines of the day to day and get away from life’s responsibilities. But, what I’ve been discovering over these last couple weeks by being forced to sit and wait is that being a free-spirit isn’t about being flighty. That the roam isn’t about the physical destination. Satisfying the nomad spirit is about connecting deeply to the discovery of the unknowns.
Within travel, you find some happiness as you get to escape, you get to live a life and be a person you choose to be temporarily. The challenge comes when it’s time to go back to your daily. Being able to take the person you discover on your journey home with you and continue living your everyday life with the same happiness that this escape brought to you.
For me, these last weeks of stagnation has revealed the necessity to sit and wait. That the cravings my nomad soul seeks has less to do with the unknowns of new places or the meditation connected to the rotation of the tires on the paved roads. That discoveries and lessons learned within travel, adventure or exploration are not really connected to the destination; but these lessons discovered within roaming are really tied to the connection you make with yourself when you sink into things unknown or uncomfortable.
This for so long has been tied to sinking into the driver’s seat of my Jeep and getting away through miles. But, sitting and waiting has allowed me to discover that nomadism is a way of life, and this way of living is about discovery of the lessons learned by continually connecting to yourself. Sometimes it’s seen through quite literal shifts in your environment, location and routines. But always, it is about discovery of connection wholeheartedly, at any given moment, anywhere you are to yourself and the things in the world outside of you.