Friday, 5 February 2016

Nomadic lifestyle of the poor and obscure

I have the  privilege of the ability to travel almost anywhere in the world (repressive regimes and scary violent places notwithstanding).
 My meager pension, hardly enough to survive on in Canada, allows me to live a very rich life here, full of relationship, engagement and contribution.
How is this possible?

As a young man I experienced life as long and challenging. Like many others I struggled through periods of angst and frustration.  There were times I felt isolated, misunderstood and without purpose. “What will I be when I grow up?” and “What is the meaning of (this) life?”.
 My forays into National Geographic, my reading had me question the sedentary life and romanticize the nomadic.
 I spent my youth in the city flanked by the ocean to the west, the Fraser river to the south and the coast mountains looming to the north. There were many opportunities to explore the edges of an amazing, breathtakingly rich and varied environment.
For me though, the city itself was overstimulating, raw, dirty and quite unappealing.  As soon as I was able I crossed the Strait and settled on the Island where I spent most of my adult life, anchored firmly to the land, a shangri la in a country of vast landscapes, beaches, wilderness and fecund farm land.
Why go anywhere else? it was all there, fertile soil, a temperate climate and comfortable lifestyle filled with opportunities for recreation, discourse and discussion with like minded.
  I helped raise  family, grew food, took a job, volunteered in a men’s centre and worked on creating community.
I thought I would never leave.
Often I imagined travelling with my young family to Mexico, across Canada, into the states, but the family grew up and moved on to their own journeys. We  managed a few forays; east, north and south and made an annual pilgrimage to a special beach on the west coast for a number of years.
 At one point, I declared that the Island was big enough  that I could reasonably expect to continually explore it, yet not see it all in my lifetime.
What I realize now was that I was scared. My brief excursion to visit Machu Pichu when I was 21 had threatened my equilibrium. How could I visit or explore another country when I didn’t know what my own looked like? Not to mention being unable to speak the language!
It was easy to make excuses and trap myself in an assumption or a cage of my own making.

The winter of 2010 was the clincher,  heavy snow, a basement suite and a mixed up relationship brought my deepest desires to the surface. I applied for a leave and made the arrangements to finally visit New Zealand.
That broke the pattern. I began to explore the possibility of living in community and  began courting an exceptional woman.

We spent the summer camping , travelling here and there, out to the west coast  and into Arizona.

 In the fall she returned to a project in Tanzania.  When she came back, I went off to spend 3 months exploring New Zealand on my own, and started blogging.
The following year I retired. We  tied up loose ends, discarded or gave away much of our stuff and packed the last of our possessions into storage.

 It was the beginning of a new path for me.

We started by walking the Camino in Spain.  Our agenda, day by day, was to put one foot in front of another, which brought our consciousness truly into the moment.

 That was a few years ago, and I’m finally grown up,  constantly evolving and maturing everyday. I’m volunteering, in service to the greater good, supporting  the creation of community and self empowerment through educating, building with natural materials and intelligent ongoing discourse.
This is a compelling purposeful lifestyle, albeit nomadic and possibly temporary. But that is what is so powerful about it,  it is challenging, stimulating and rewarding. I’ve never been more satisfied or content.