Hunter S. Thompson, prolific author and creator of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, once commented on how he wanted to appear in his coffin. Most people, he suggested, want to look pretty or beautiful in the coffin for the passers-by to ooh and aah at. Hunter, on the other hand, said he wanted to look used and spent, with a worn out face suggesting a life lived hard. I love it!
As you can guess, I want to die looking “spent.” I hope they say as they pass by my open coffin, “Wow, that dude lived a life hard!”
Nomads, Gypsies and Settlers
In our earliest human state, we were Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers. So settling ourselves today in one space is oddly or ironically almost unnatural. Some of us are still natural explorer/hunters. When we cease hunting we fall to an unsatisfactory state of being.
Others are more predisposed to settling down where there is an increased sense of safety and predictability. These people always know where home is, as well as all the familial advantages that come with settling down. Society and the world itself would not exist, as we know it, without settlers. They are infinitely necessary for life as we have constructed it.
Then, there are those of us that are genetically (or environmentally) inclined to wander. Driven by curiosity and adventure we must have, at the very least, moments of Wander Lust. We require NEW. New people, new places to visit, and new cultures to explore haunt us as we find ourselves feeling stuck in the same ole, same ole.
How the Unfamiliar Enlightens the Soul
Europe has given me a heightened understanding of awe stemming from architectural wonders, the beauty of alternative world-views, the possibility of freedom from social and political restraints, and what it is like to have few obligations to my possessions and people.
Paraphrasing a TS Elliot poem, “We leave our heart and soul’s home in search of meaning, only upon return, to discover it was at home already within us all the time.” The cruel but exciting truth is that we must go on a life journey to discover that simple truth. It cannot be recognized in stillness. Movement is essential.
You Can be a Hybrid
So, what does this mean for me? Well, first of all I have a “settled” base of operations—home, family, finances, friends, and a state of well-being. I realize that a genuine nomad or gypsy would most likely say I’m cheating. Although, somewhere deep inside of me is a hint of a true nomad desiring fewer possessions and non-relational obligations—just a life of wandering one place to another in search of fulfilling an undefined curiosity about life.
But, having tied myself to so many obligations to other people, I would find it difficult to divorce myself from fulfilling my roles of husband, father, friend, provider, and encourager of those in need.
I must find alternative means to allow my gypsy soul to emerge. For today, it consists of frequent travel, new books, new stories to write, and new technological experimentations like my Podcast, The Next Chapter with Charlie.
And you? Nomad or Settler? Either is good. Just be true to that inner core whispering words of personal truth.
The Nomadic Settler
An Interesting American Option
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