In a society riddled by outdated pressures to uphold a reputable job, manage a nuclear family and maintain a somewhat stable lifestyle, these are some things I’ve learned while doing the exact opposite:
1. Friends are fleeting but so is time. Never buy a watch. And if you classify yourself as “anxious”, avoid the face of time whenever possible. Calendars? Forget them. Knowing that the wings of time compare to that of a bird’s, only leads to frustration and deep issues with your inner tissues. You already feel under economic weather because there’s no stability in your recent past or near future, so don’t go making it worse by attaching a constant reminder of your unconventional lifestyle to your malnourished wrists.
2. You’re always grateful for the people who’ve supported your every misguided step.
3. You don’t need a Tempur-Pedic mattress to dream. You don’t even need darkness or a complete skip around R.E.M circle. They say you’re a dreamer and you might be the only one. Insomnia isn’t something you tweet about because you can’t sleep. Instead you work diligently on projects projected in your mind until the sun rises. Or until your computer and/or mobile device runs out of battery and burns holes thru your pupils.
4. Learn to accept losing things. Keys. Phone. Pens. Plants. Those important items a person usually needs will never be where you last remembered. And if you’re not physically losing them, learn to accept the feeling that you are. You’ll have a constant notion that you’re forgetting something. Either that, or you don’t own an abundance of material possessions because you can pack your entire life into a compact car. Or both.
5. Pack light. The less stuff you have, the more freedom. Unnecessary luxuries are like anchors to the NO-MAD cruise liner.
6. Your memory during nomadic years will fail more than normal. And if your memory (or lack thereof) is anything like mine, try not to cry over spilled beans. There’s just too much shit to think about when you’re limitless and (relatively) free. Lower your expectations.
7. It’s going to be tough, wear protective armor.
8. Some people are going to excite you with their jealousy. And some people are going to scorn you. Most likely out of jealousy. You’re not going to adhere to a sublime model of a citizen. But you will need to keep a form of identification on you at all times. Or learn how to sweet talk your way to the next destination.
9. Buying any liquid toiletry over 2 oz. is silly and the whole concept of Costco literally confuses your complex. Nobody needs to buy processed foods in wholesale volumes, let alone processed foods at all. Buying for a bomb shelter isn’t logical unless you have 11 children and/or you live in the suburbs with the perfect nuclear family. Pun totally intended.
10. Even if you pack light, hard copy books are always preferable over a Kindle. I bartered mine to a nomadic friend in exchange for a smile and haven’t looked back since.
11. Speaking of smiles, shine one as often and as bright as possible. Smile so well that you inspire others to pass it along.
12. The idea of luxury means vastly different from one person to the next.
13. The idea of comfort is similarly perceived differently amongst society and that’s a good thing because you don’t need 1000 threads in your cotton to be comfortable. All you need is a good spirit and good people. But these things don’t come that easily either.
14. If you don’t already, you’ll learn to love PBR or at least widen your horizons of cheap drink and generic klonopin.
15. Privacy is a diamond in the rough nomadic life. But since time alone is a rare occurrence – unless you find somebody who needs a house sitter while you’re around town (major nomad score) – you learn how valuable it can be to hang with your inner guts and glory. Sit back, relax and relish in your thoughts and emotions. Who knows, you might learn a few things.
16. You’ll start to value small (otherwise meaningless) objects. My most recent prized possessions are a succulent I was give at a women’s art gallery, my vintage Raleigh bike and a necklace made from the shell of 9mm bullet I scooped up at the local farmers market. My car is named Pedro and I can’t leave a place until I’ve packed my French press in a known location. This last point being particularly difficult (refer to #4).
17. People look stupid when they cry. Don’t.
18. Meet as many people as possible and refrain from simple conversation starters like “what do you do?” or “where do you live”. These questions only pigeonhole your new acquaintance and leave you with more meaningless information that’s easily forgotten. Give people chances and don’t just judge them by their eccentric cover (or lack thereof).
19. You don’t have you’re own kitchen, you don’t know how to cook without a recipe to follow, you look at buying groceries as a frivolous expense – whatever the case may be, you have a constant feeling inside that you’re slightly hungry and could use a snack. What day is the farmers market again? Free samples…
20. Go off the beaten path and take detours into the unknown. Mother Nature is breathtaking and has better lessons to teach than her architect counterparts.
21. You will not be able to capture all of the beauty this world has to offer with a camera; so don’t waste your time trying. Instead, let your eyes be the finest memory maker money can’t buy.
22. Solitude truly is bliss, so I highly recommend spending some quality time with mother earth (see #19).
23. Aberrations are beautiful and you will never truly understand others (let alone cooperate with those you disagree with) if you don’t meet as many people as possible in your lifetime and welcome different opinions, lifestyles, cultures etc.
24. You can absolutely expand your horizons and pinch pennies simultaneously.
25. If you fear the unknown and live by idealized standards rather than your own true passions, you will spend your sweet time on this earth solemnly unfulfilled.