Nomad by nature, perhaps

I wonder if the right partner, or the right community, or the right something came into my life would that make me want to stay put or am I just by my very nature meant to roam. The longest I have stayed anywhere since leaving my parent’s home in 1990 (boarding school!) was the four years I spent in university. It actually astounds me that I was so totally content at Carleton. But in some ways it’s reassuring, that perhaps I’m not just always looking for something outside myself to provide happiness. Since those Northfield, MN days, I’ve maxed out at about two and a half years in New Haven, CT; the first location post-college.

The past few weeks were spent packing up what I decided it was worth storing for an indefinite period, selling and giving away the things that weren’t, and arranging things such as providing my parents easy access to my assets in the event of an emergency. I still have quite a few things to get in order but things are pretty well organized for this totally life-changing move.

This morning my father said he was pretty sure that I was going to spend the rest of my life traveling, and that he wouldn’t be all that surprised if I don’t return from Asia. I wonder if this statement comes from fear or if it’s something else all together…This was after I told him about how wonderfully coincidental it was that a young Mongolian woman came to buy my camping stove the other day, and how seeing and speaking with her conjured up all this nostalgia and fondness for the country and the experiences I had there. I left just over 11 weeks ago and it seems nearly an eternity. I think I will definitely have to find a way to go back before I leave the continent. First stop Burma/Myanmar, next on the list will probably also be tropical (Cambodia, Laos, India, Sri Lanka?), then either as a stand-alone trip or en route back to the US perhaps I will go to Korea to see my friend and also to Mongolia if I can. Any time I am traveling I will welcome visitors to do a leg with me. Maybe I’ll even see my wildly dispersed friends more often now. The ones I know I will be missing are my nieces and nephews. But if my father is right and I’m in this for the long haul, hopefully when they’re big enough they can come visit me too…

Although I seem to have made a career of moving both in terms of job and place, I don’t think that I’ve ever been running away or trying to find something in particular. I don’t think it’s ennui either, but more a sense of reveling in change and the shift in perspective that different people, places and professions can provide. There is no denying that I am a renaissance person. For money so far I’ve built websites, balanced budgets, pulled weeds, nude modeled, written reports, procured environmental products, washed dishes, and taught Spanish, among other things. I’ve learned something from both myself and those I’ve worked with in each and every one of these situations. For me, the accumulation of knowledge – particularly intellectual – is not so important as is practical experience and living itself.

The theme throughout this blog is meeting life exactly where you are, and this seems perhaps an inherent contradiction with my constant wanderings. I think the motivation for changing one’s environment is what matters here, and so I am going to venture to say that as of now there is no real contradiction. Perhaps I’m not the settling type, but it’s not because I believe that I will be happier if only. The travel, the variety, the challenge of it all is a means in and of itself. Honestly, I hope even if the day comes that I buy a house, grow a garden, and hunker down, that I will continue to have an inquisitive mind and that each moment can be approached as if brand new. Perhaps that is the real meaning of rebirth (just look at the root of the word Renaissance) and reincarnation.

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  1. geapi

     /  August 1, 2009

    I think as long as you’re a nomad inside it will not matter what the outside provides, only the calm inside will eventually open the space to settle down. Having the experience of being a new dad, I have to say, that even with a new born child if my personal growth were not where it is, the child would not provide a ‘settling point’. Having reached a level of inner peace allows me to see the reflections of myself in my daughter and through this find that peace within again.

    Even though a little off topic I was just thinking about a qote from a book I recently read, which probably fits more to one of your posts on “love”. The author wrote: “Every time I ask myself how I will be able to care as much for the next child as I do for this one, how can I have the patience and love it needs, then I think of a quote from a very good friend: ‘Each baby brings into this world exactly the love it needs, we just have to be open for it.'”

  2. sharanam

     /  August 2, 2009

    The question is, do I really ever want to stop inquiring or allowing the “self” to continuously reveal itself (and thereby still the inside)?

    I think equanimity is something that can exist regardless of environment, but it is certainly not something we can be complacent about either. It is an ongoing process. Whatever settling down and being stable is in the conventional sense may not always apply to those who seek and question.

    Of course the joy and wonder of having and raising a child, whose own Buddha nature is so apparent from day one, is also an incredible learning process and expression of love!

    • geapi

       /  August 18, 2009

      I don’t see that as question, I think the constant “evolution” of the self to a deeper understanding of who we are is essentially who we are. What I was pointing at, is what you picked up: this inquiry is possible even without the nomad life on the outside.

      Safe travels! May the force be with you, you will be in my thoughts and prayers.


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