- This post was originally written March 7, 2020. Pre-pandemic. I think it still important and relevant to the nomads of the world. May we keep the faith and work towards a return to our lifestyle of choice. Cheers!
She said it in a very nonchalant sort of way, as part of our conversation. She was talking about her choices and how she lives and why. She is a fellow nomad and traveler. She referred to how she lives as a lifestyle.
While I am confident in my choice and love my life, I still struggle with putting language to what this is all about. I lived on the road for months before the “pilgrim” phrase really hit home with me. I was reading a book about pilgrimage and had not realized that is what I was called to do. I was on a pilgrimage! Once I had that word and learned the meaning, so much more made sense to me. I could express what I had felt my entire life. I could explain what I was doing and why. This word put a depth to my choice that I knew was there but never really connected with. These choices I have made are so much more than just running away or checking out. The more time I spend on the road and the more places I visit and the more challenges I have faced, the more I realize this really is a very deeply personal and spiritual journey for me.
The process of taking away nearly every distraction in my life has given me the ability to hear my own voice, listen to my own body, dig deeper into the depths of who I am and what I am about. I never did this before. I never felt able to do this before. I was busy living my life without realizing it was not the life for me. The angst and the discontent and the dissatisfaction I struggled with has finally ceased to exist. I have none of those feelings now. Without those feelings, those voices, those distractions, I have learned how to listen to myself. Heck, I can actually hear my own voice and feel my body. When I am open, I can feel the vibrational pull of God and the Universe. These are the gifts of this journey, this adventure, this pilgrimage. The energy previously used just to exist now goes into living a more genuine and authentic life.
When talking with others, I frequently call myself a professional nomad. I am technically homeless and unemployed and I travel full time. When I am not engaged in living out of my tent, I am on a home stay with family and friends. Well, I have been. I am currently at a volunteer job in the mountains of Colorado. I will be working as an employee shuttle driver in exchange for room, board and free activities. I have an entire room to myself, complete with sink and running water and a bathtub! I get three meals a day from the cafeteria. I can swim or roller skate or ski or snowshoe for free, and I can get discounts on everything else. Score! I am part of an entire cadre of volunteers.
This is how I met Carol. She is a volunteer also and someone told me she lives on the road and I should meet her. Yes, I would love to! I rarely meet anyone who lives on the road, let alone another older woman. I introduced myself briefly and in passing then, at lunch the same day, she plops down for a little chat. I was excited and invited her to tell her story. She lives and travels full-time in a camper. She also has worked at nearly all of the National Park locations, mostly in food service or retail. She shared bits and pieces and, me being me, I asked lots of questions. I appreciated her time and was happy to hear how she lives her life of choice.
It was during this time that she called her choices a “lifestyle”. She referred to people who travel full-time or who volunteer or who work seasonally and then travel as folks who choose a “lifestyle”. I had never heard anyone call it that before. These choices, these lives we live off the grid, out of the mainstream, working seasonal or not at all, volunteering, all of these choices can be summed up as a lifestyle choice. That makes perfect sense to me. I have made a lifestyle choice. Why, yes I have!
I am on a personal and spiritual pilgrimage. I live and work and explore as a nomad. I have made a drastic and profound change to how and where I live my life. I have chosen a new lifestyle. That fits, that helps, and that gives me a sense of community, a sense of belonging. I fit in with others who live this lifestyle. Sure, we will live it differently and in our own way, but we share the common goals of travel, out of the mainstream, volunteering, working seasonal and/or temporary jobs, working by choice or design. This lifestyle is one of empowerment. We choose where we go and what we do. We set the terms of our lives and we call the shots to our very existence. This is a lifestyle of activity, adventure, exploration, change and empowerment. This is the lifestyle for me.
I can see how this would not be for everyone. I can see how some folks would not like the temporary nature of their lives or the unskilled tasks of our work or the unpredictable nature of being a nomad. But, my people are the ones who love this shit! We come, we live, we learn, we contribute, we explore and then we move on to live, learn and explore somewhere else. We may be perfectly capable of being in charge, but we do not want to be. We may have owned houses or property, but we now share rooms and cafeteria-style meals. We have raised families and spouses and now we read alone in our rooms. BECASE WE WANT TO! Because we can. Because this is what we choose. THIS is our choice.
I am on a pilgrimage. I am a nomad. I have chosen an unconventional life. I chose a lifestyle of adventure and change. I am also not alone in this choice. I have people out here and they have me. We are members of a non-traditional nomadic community that live alone together. I salute our choices, our contributions, and the ways we move around in this world. I embrace and celebrate THIS lifestyle.
Cheers to my fellow nomads!