Living Like A Nomad (Or Not)

I’ve always craved stability. I wanted nothing more as a child than to feel secure. Loud voices or sudden movements sent me into a state of turmoil. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I was the youngest of a large chaotic household or if it was more that I was raised under the religious connotation that the world could (and would) end at any moment. I moved through my days with the fear that life as I knew it would come crashing down on me. I felt safest at home with the people I loved.

I hold onto places that provide good memories and to items that once belonged to people I loved. I am attached to things that give me comfort. I can’t seem to let them go. I always return to the same places, same people, and same items for solace. I don’t welcome change. I accept it, but usually with uneasiness.

As an adult, I have purposely never lived my life by chance. I thought things through and made plans. However, we all know that when we make plans, God laughs. Isn’t that the saying? There have been times that I have made decisions totally out of character for me, and my life is better because of it. Some of the best things that have ever happened to me have been by complete surprise. I wanted my children to grow up with a sense of safety that I never felt. But in retrospect, did I do them a disservice by providing them with too much comfort and assurance? Did I try to protect them more than I should have? Did I not allow them to take the chances that I was afraid of? I think we let them see for themselves that life is not always fair, and that home is a safe place. I think we taught them that even though we loved them we did not have the answer to everything nor could we right all that ailed them in life. One thing is for sure, they take chances in ways I never had the courage to do.

In spite of this declaration, I’ve often thought of myself as a wanderer or a drifter in life. Crazy huh? A person who craves stability and stays put considers herself a nomad at heart? How can that possibly be? I suppose I feel this way because I’ve never settled into one way of living. I enjoy country life while I love the convenience of city life. I have a home and family that I try to provide a level of security for and depend on for my own comfort as well. However, I’ve flitted in and out of life trying many different things. I’ve been allowed the freedom to experiment with careers and hobbies. I’m sure it is no surprise to you that after many years of working in the world, I’ve settled at working from home. It provides me the best of possibilities though sometimes I feel like I might want to get back out there. I’ve floated from idea to idea and drifted through the years with no concrete plans for my future. I might have long term hopes and wishes, but I don’t make ten year plans or lifelong goals. I do not have a “bucket list”. I might make weekend hiking or travel plans, but mostly I try to live where the moment takes me. Does that qualify me as a nomad? Or maybe a gypsy?


Once while visiting the lighthouse at Ocracoke Island, Dirt Man and I met an older couple who were tour guides. They travel all year wherever the National Parks have openings and stay at local RV campgrounds. What a perfect occupation for a retired couple that enjoys traveling! They get to travel, explore, work, learn and teach, and mingle with people. This sounds like a delightful way to spend retirement years

I know of a young newly married couple who sold almost everything they owned, packed everything else in storage, and went on a year adventure of touring the world. They had a rough itinerary, but no solid plans for the entire trip. What bravery! I can’t imagine winging it in a strange land. They were able to scratch the itch to travel the world before they settled in and raised their family.

Who are considered nomads? And why do they do it? I would think migrant workers. Many people travel through cultural exchange groups. They do it for a variety of reasons such as the opportunity for adventure, Some do it for pay. Others simply want to offer their services through volunteering. Many want to teach or study. Some photographers, journalists, and medical professionals lead nomadic lifestyles as well. In the context of America today, would we consider homeless people nomads?

Though I might not be comfortable with authentic nomadic living, I can explore and learn about my own surroundings, and I can visit other places through books and the internet. See, I’ve figured out a way to be both a hermit and be a nomad at heart!

33 thoughts on “Living Like A Nomad (Or Not)

  1. Your posts are always a challenge to the sleeping soul to wake up and think. Thank you for sharing.

    I feel the nomadic draw on my heart when I hear a train whistle blow. I’ve never traveled by train, so I don’t know why the whistle touches that chord in my soul. I, too, have lived in many places and different circumstances. I’d like to say that making home a place of safety is a good thing. God wants us to feel secure. We are safe in His care, and when we don’t feel like it, we are robbed of the peace God wants us to experience. You’ve done right, in my thinking, to make your children feel safe and secure. Blessings to you, Suzi…

  2. We get a train whistle a few times a day. There is something special to them. You are being the wonderful and caring woman God wants. And he wouldn’t want you any other way.

    • You are very kind, Duke. I try to live a good life, but like most people at times I fail. I just do the best I can with what I have. Those train whistles are awesome…they remind me of the four o’clock whistle of the soapstone plant by my childhood home…oh what memories!

  3. I had a good friend from Ireland named Cogie. She was a true nomad. She would spend 6 or 7 months of every year bumming around the US, sleeping on the couches of friends, and then move on to Mexico armed with addresses of friends of friends, or Canada, or Asia. I could not live that way. But I envy it a little bit.

  4. We’re nomadic ~ I’ve lived in NJ (18), VA (4), NJ (1), SC (3), NC (8), NJ (8), MD (8), FL (2).

    Now, I think we’re finally ready to settle down. Aah . . .

    We need to seek the right balance of desire for security and willingness to explore new horizons. If we are unwilling to risk anything . . . we risk everything.

    Wonderful post, Suzi. And one that ties in nicely with my post today:

    Revel in Uncertainty! 😎

    • Wow. you really were a nomad! With my delicate nature as a child, I’d surely have ended up in some intensive Psychiatric care had we moved around alot…I admire those who have and did not have adjustment difficulties…I can’t even imagine. I used to get discombobulated if the furniture was reaarranged..ok, I’m really not that bad, but you get my point. I am surely getting better with age. And yes, it does tie in with your post today!

  5. I used to think I wanted to travel the world and live out of the back of a van. I was totally fooling myself, or maybe just totally unaware of the future vagaries of my musculo-skeletal structure. I can’t even sleep in another room of my own damned house. I’m too self-conscious (on so many levels) to travel comfortably. But I admire people who do it.

  6. As a child growing up, I attended 38 schools in 35 states – now I need my roots. I’d love to take a trip every few months, but one of the good parts about going away is the coming back home.

  7. “The world could (and would) end.” I know this feeling. It breathed me for a long time. I think it makes people who believe it live differently. There are all kinds of varieties on this theme: Remember the Y2K concerns? Now it’s worries about 2012. Or how global warming will be the end of the next generation.

    I’m not saying there may not be impending doom and that we should not take care to be responsible…just saying the hysteria it inspires is… rootless. Without roots, do we really put of a good tree?

    • It was a horrible feeling. Now, I’ve learned to live for now and not worry about things like that. I also try not to let others beliefs infringe on mine. I certainly believe in roots and wings! It’s a beautiful world when we give it a chance and try to find the beauty in our everyday moments.

  8. I know I keep saying this in my comments, but the more I read of you the more I see our similarities, Suzi!

    I too have the heart of a nomad, or what I like to refer to as…..the heart of a gypsy. Maybe it’s my actor/creative soul that craves ‘discovery’ which makes me this way, however I’ve always enjoyed going to different places, experiencing different cutures, and simply exploring diverse things. Yet, like you, I also enjoy having my roots.

    I really enjoy both. And I think through the traveling I’ve done as an actor, I’ve learned how to carry my roots with me, so I feel at home no matter where I am.

    “Some of the best things that have ever happened to me have been by complete surprise.”

    Me too, Suzi! I’m also like you in that I don’t PLAN my life. I would much rather be surprised by what God plans for me.

    Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing, dear lady!


    • I love it! One day we will actually meet in person…I just know it!!!! It’s good to have both roots and wings. It’s fun to travel and explore but oh so good to have home to come back to.

  9. I think it’s good that you’ve been able to try so many things in your life. I can see how that would make you feel like a nomad at heart, even though you’ve stuck close to home.

    My mom said I used to startle easily, too. And that every time there was a siren or any loud noise, I’d start wailing. We moved around a lot as a child, so I’m not surprised that I’m firmly planted now. I wish I could say that I was a nomad at heart, but I’m not. I do have the hermit part down, though 🙂

  10. Wow, you have been really busy with the deep thoughts this week … I can’t keep up.

    I think nomad is all in your state of mind … just like adventure. When asked, I always say that an adventure is “anything new” … but, to some people an adventure has a totally different meaning.
    People think I am a nomad living here alone in the middle of the woods, but I don’t feel like one … I feel more like a hermit, too. I built this life around things that make me feel secure and safe .. the familiar. It is all in your state of mind.

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