CAL: As I lay on the living room rug, watching the afternoon sun slowly creep past the window, I realize that we’ve been on the road for nearly 8 months now. I know that I am not the same cat that left Marina Del Rey, CA back in September, but I can not really articulate why. I wonder how Michele feels about our time on the road.
MICHELE’S ADDENDUM: Well, we’ve been on the road for what feels like a million years now. Time has simultaneously crept slowly and flown by. As I drive back home from the Backfoot Pathways in Lincoln, MT, I ponder the Life Nomadic.
Possessions really do crowd your mind. Since I’ve been living out of 2 suitcases, life has become so much simpler. I no longer maintain my living space (aside from very basic cleaning routines). I never worry about how it looks to other people. Each day I spend less than 10 seconds deciding what to wear and now I cook with only the most basic ingredients. I can’t fully explain it, but somehow the lack of shoes and seasoning has freed my brain in a way that I did not expect.
A constantly changing environment forces a life in the present tense. As a nomad, every 4-6 weeks my environment completely changes. The forks are in a new place, the light switch for the bathroom has moved, the latch on the windows works differently, and the list goes on and on. Being in a novel environment is part of why traveling fascinates so many people, but once you’ve been in a novel environment for 6+ months, your mind starts to operate in a different way. You start to form habits around paying attention to your current environment; you stop running on autopilot.
The brain is more attached to the future than I could have ever imagined. The thing that really strikes me the most about this lifestyle is how fervently my brain tries to attach itself to a vision of the future. Pre-nomad, I had assumptions of what life would look like in 3-6 months, even though I wasn’t consciously thinking about it. Now that I can not answer the question where I’ll be in November (and I get asked that a lot), I feel a deep sense of unease that’s hard to shake. But the thing is, I never really knew where I was going to be in 6 months, my sense of future-self was always false.
The thing about nomading is that it’s really a teacher. The lifestyle will show you what you need to learn when you are ready to learn it. It’s different for everyone and it’s always unexpected. For me, I thought this journey would be about connecting with new people and exploring nature, but it’s really about challenging the ideas of time and space. Nomading, for me, has been a crash course in living in the now.