For the last month or two, I have found an unrequited interest in living a nomadic-lifestyle. Now, I must give a quick definition of a nomad. According to the online Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a nomad “is a member of a group of people who move from place to place instead of living in one place all the time”. So, this may sound like a stretch for people that holds onto stability for dear life. However, I guess I have always wanted to experience a feeling of living life in its totality and entirety.
I met a friend a year ago, named Ibrahim and he would tell me about his explorations to Africa and throughout the Middle-East. In his explorations, he told me of his own self-discoveries and revelations. He started to see life in a different lens because of the different lifestyles he was being exposed to throughout his frequent travels. Ironic enough, he is still nomadic and doesn’t stay in one place. He frequently leaves to visit various countries. He describes his adventures as being liberating and refreshing. I would occasionally argue that his nomadic-lifestyle isn’t very nomadic, but he usually disagrees. However, I have found this need or this want of being liberated…common. Many people in my life have told me that they need an outlet, a place to rest their worries, a vacation, or a step away from reality. Now, I am not advocating that people should walk away from their unresolved problems, but I do see the validity in stepping away from our daily-routines.
So, as I was reading this book about the female nomad, I stumbled upon a quote that really stuck out to me. The author, Rita Golden Gelman, is 47 years old and experiencing a failing marriage. So, in seeking to reconcile the marriage, her and her husband agreed to a two-month break-up. However, she only wanted to separate for two weeks. Nonetheless, she thought it would be good to travel a little bit to clear her head. In being an anthropologist, she sought out Mexico. In her adventures within Mexico, she found herself transforming and blooming into someone else. In being independent of her husband, she had found herself one evening looking for a companion to eat dinner with at a restaurant. In feeling self-conscious about being alone, she ate with two men she had met at a hotel. After having dinner with the men, she stayed with one of the men over-night and said, “The next morning, I am confused as I walk back to my hotel. Who was that woman who just spent the night with a stranger? Two days ago I could never have done it. In twenty-four years, it has never happened. Is it possible that leaving the country has turned me into someone else. I try to look at myself from another dimension, detached and nonjudgmental. This person is not wife, other, daughter, writer, anthropology student, L.A. sophisticate. She is, of course, all of these things; but alone, without the attachments, she is a woman in limbo, she is someone she doesn’t know” (11).
In reading this quote early-on in the book, I began thinking to myself about the state of being nomadic. I feel nomadic, but I have never traveled to another place. Well, I did travel to Texas when I was a toddler. However, I never feel as if I fit. I feel like an outcast. As a nomad, you’re always moving. You take what you need and you just go. You are never really grounded. And being a nomad is about going against your typical view of living a stable life. You are constantly uprooting yourself and becoming displaced. So, in the quote by Gelman, she feels displaced. She is caught in limbo, as she called it. She understand the various roles that she plays, but she wants to know herself outside of those conventional roles. I think this is really important and interesting. How do we define ourselves outside of: mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, aunt, uncle, friend, lover, and etc? Are we comfortable with where we are? Are we satisfied with the life that we are living? Are we existing or are we living?
In asking these questions, I wonder if we should only accept the question that the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary gave us. Sometimes we can be nomads in our own lives without traveling. We can sometimes become so disconnected to our own realities, to our friends, and family-members that we aren’t stable. I’m not really sure where I am going with this, but being a nomad doesn’t always mean traveling. It could mean, simply, that one stops the act of simply existing and move towards living. Maybe it isn’t even about stability or being disconnected from people. Being nomadic can simply mean not weighing one’s self down with unnecessary baggage. It could simply mean…starting to be you. Starting to live life.
To leave you something to think about:
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
— May Sarton