During the year I was away, I met people who had been traveling for decades. People who decided to check out of their every-day routine and experience a life of unpredictability and constant change. Some of them walked out of full-time, high powered jobs and some recognised broken relationships and decided to start a new life for themselves. I got the sense that these people, these nomads, developed a different sense of home. For them, home became a well-worn backpack and the chance to see the world. I admired these people for throwing caution to the wind and just living.
I met one young guy from Canada who had given his life to travel. From what I could piece together, his marriage had failed and he no longer wanted to be a lawyer so, one day, he packed up and hit the road. I can’t imagine what that would be like; to put your life in a bag not knowing when you were going to return or if you would ever return at all. When I went traveling, I knew that no matter where I went, I was always going home.
Sometimes, in society, we see these nomads as ‘lost’, or ‘runaways’. We like to think that there should be a place to settle down with a family, house and a job/career. I’ll be honest, I used to think this too. My plans were rigid, firm and didn’t leave much room to breathe. The plan was so centred around finding a career that, somewhere along the line, most things I used to enjoy evaporated;disappeared. While I was striving and failing to find this career, I stopped playing tennis and reading books and I became obsessed with my failures and rejections. I somehow developed extremely high expectations.
Recently I have made a decision to wander from the plan. Which, I admit, isn’t so easy. I grew up with the idea that having a career and being driven toward work was an admirable thing – which of course it is. But it’s not the only admirable thing. You can spend your life working as hard as you like but then one day you might just wake up and wonder whether it was worth it; whether all the sacrifices you made in other areas of your life paid off. And what if they didn’t? Again, was it really worth it?
That’s why I admire these nomads, or wanderers, because like my Canadian friend, they have given something up for the purpose of a more fulfilling life. And so, I have decided to take a page out of their book. I have made a promise to myself that I will no longer focus on forcing myself into a rigid career, but instead discover what I like again. I will pick up a tennis racket, take a language course or plan a future trip. I’m sure, with some effort, I will fall into a job that I enjoy soon. But, more importantly, maybe I will fall into a life that I love. Maybe wandering from the plan will be the best thing I ever do.