Another Nomadic Life Thought Piece
The reason animals survive in nature is because they are rationally risk averse. Only human animals have the capacity to be irrational. On the other hand, only human animals have the capacity to rationally take on risk—the sine qua non of human civilization.
In the status quo, civilization comes at us with a nefarious side—to place upon us norms, boundaries, limits, customs, societal and familial expectations, inter alia, all ahead of what we might feel or sense is better for us individually.
But true civilization requires all of these things and indeed, the hallmark of advanced civilization is to codify many standards of human social interaction into law, along with an uncorrupted court system to adjudicate both criminal and civil trespass upon the law.
The law is a rather blunt instrument, however. Ideally, it doesn’t play favorites—law for thee, but not for me—though we know that in practice it often does. It’s also a practice in governance by lowest common denominator. If the law sets impossible standards, then everyone is a criminal, rendering the law meaningless.
Often, the law is informed by culture, which typically subsumes a dominant religion. On top of that, we have religious, cultural, and familial norms where certain behaviors, while not illegal according to the lowest-common-denominator State, are nonetheless punishable by excommunication, disowning, and ostracism. And, being unfriended on Facebook.
On the surface, it’s a lot to lose for those who go full nomad, which means: no particular home. When asked my address I give the same answer: Planet Earth.
I’ve had my sights set on this sort of life for a good while, having lived outside of the U.S. for seven years in a past life, traveling a lot, imagining what it would be like to travel in perpetuity. But look at all I’d lose.
- A way to make a living
- The safety and security of being a native American in America
- A company I built from nothing to 30 employees
- The primary house and a vacation home
- The marriage
- The dogs
- The regular face time (the literal kind) with friends and family
- The car
- All the stuff upon stuff I’m primary custodian of
…My first experience with so-called culture shock was my NROTC Midshipmen cruise in 1982, when I spent several days each in Pusan, Korea and then Sasebo, Japan. It was eye opening in the sense that we Americans tend to grow up in a sort of cultural isolation while being geopolitically adventurous—having the effect that Americans see America as per se superior, more advanced, and just plain better than anywhere else.
Well, America is a great country and I’m no America basher, but that experience caused me to tone down my American Nationalism. I would go on to take my first and second assignments as a U.S. Navy Officer in Japan, taking up five years, and then my third in France for another two.
And now, 28 years since leaving France and returning to the U.S., I’m fully nomadic, which seems to me a natural progression where, should I eventually decide to set down some surface “roots” again someday, it will be as an expat in a favorite place where they treat me the best.
…There’s nothing wrong with a preference for one’s own nation and culture. When you travel and actually experience a nation’s culture beyond an all-inclusive resort and guided tours, you come to see the obvious: they too love their nation and culture and are seemingly just fine with it. And such exists in thousands of worthwhile places to experience all over this planet.
Accordingly, everything you lost is countered by everything you gain.
- New ways to make a living digitally
- The novelty of out-comfort-zone adventure in a foreign land
- Maybe a new, online-based company with contractors and freelancers instead of employees
- A new furnished rental every few weeks to months instead of mortgages, taxes, insurance, utility bills, and yard work
- New relationships that span the globe—and crossing paths again with the established ones
- Enjoying the pets of others (dog and cat behavior seem to be universal)
- Easy communication with those back home and the occasional visit
- Rent motor scooters, cars, or use ride sharing to avoid car payments, insurance, and maintenance
- No stuff to care for that you don’t absolutely need
So, for every loss, there’s a corresponding gain. Or, why limit one’s self to one set of experiences when you can have many differing ones at the same depths?
More posts on my recent nomadic project: