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Musings on embracing a nomadic life, later in life…
The silence is broken by the chiming of church bells carried on a gust of wind from a nearby village. I am ambling down my French country road. I am alone. I break into a grin. I feel as though I am home.
When asked where I live these days, I respond, “I am a nomad.” I light up. There is a genuine glow that emanates from my face, in fact even my body language changes when I utter those four little words.
It is right there, in those moments, that I reassuringly know that this nomadic life is the right path.
Nomad. It’s defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.” Check. In the past seventeen months, four months is the longest I have stayed anywhere. Check. A nomadic life.
Nomad. It makes me think of someone riding a camel in the searing hot desert. I haven’t been there yet but, no doubt will be one day. My critical voice cautions, “Really?”
I am wiser than my inner critic. I know when I dream grand possibilities something magical will transpire. I quieten that voice retorting, ‘”Just you wait ’til I’m on that camel, for I am a nomad.”
I am also a juxtaposition – a nomad yet, a mother.
Isn’t a mother supposed to be the rock, the foundation of the family, the anchor that her children can return to?
I have to believe for this space in time, my adult children will forgive my unrelenting gypsy soul and embrace my guts to go after what I seek, feeling my love from all corners of the earth.
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.” Roman Payne
I am a contradiction – a wanderer yet a self-confessed homebody.
How can a homebody who loves the comfort and familiarity of their own abode find that the unfettered freedom of a nomadic life brings immense joy?
Why do I feel so at home as I wander the planet?
In this nomadic life, I seek to unearth magic in unlikely places. To see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I am driven by a passion to discover both the world at large and the world within. The two are integrally connected. Inextricably linked.
I am driving home from the ocean and forget to defy my GPS as it directs me down roads that are in fact cowpaths. I am scooting along when I see the green Citröen, two bales of hay carelessly stacked behind it. I know I have to pull over. This is the world at large I am seeking.
I wander back to take a picture of this ancient car with cows as a backdrop and notice that someone is milking the cows. By the time I scramble over a ditch into the opposing field and look up, there she is, arms folded across her chest.
I merrily say, “Bonjour! Est-ce que je peux prendre une photo? She smiles and I snap some pictures. We end up talking for 45 minutes about the weather, farming, marriage and men. Most of the time I am out of my depth with the French. Jeannine tells me to come back. She is there everyday, she says, but I know in the maze of roads that is the French countryside, I will never find her again.
But I do. I am at the Pontorson market, saying goodbye to my favourite vendors when I see Jeannine chatting with the flower vendor. I tap her on the shoulder, call her the wrong name, which brings smiles, and the conversation flows once more.
My world within is sparkling.
I am experiencing something reciprocal. The strands of gossamer connecting humans worldwide are being revealed. Invisible to the naked eye but unmistakably existent.
I am in Ubud, Bali living in a mystical paradise. Nanang is my teacher. One Indonesian phrase at a time my repertoire expands. Most days, I wander by his shop after yoga to buy water. He greets me like an old friend and invites me to the temple offering a sarong and sash. His grandchildren offer me homemade snacks. He insists I come to his mother’s cremation.
He is curious about Canada and my solitary journey. I tell him tales. Both our views of the world expand.
Encounters like these are fleeting yet, life changing. They demand something of me. They demand an acute awareness. They insist on a willingness to be open and flexible. They require my full presence.
I know if I pay attention these encounters will yield something in return.
They do. All my senses are on fire. I feel insanely alive. My sense of joy is exploding. I feel I am home.
“Home is not just the place where you happen to be born. It’s the place where you become yourself,” declares travel writer Pico Iyer.
Perhaps underlying all this wandering, I am merely becoming myself. After all these years, I am learning to take up my space and honour my gypsy soul. This is why I keep on going, I feel at home.
Am I ever lonely? Sometimes.
Do I miss my kids? Incredibly so.
Do I wonder what I am giving back? Yes.
Do I yearn for the familiar? Affirmative.
I acknowledge these feelings and do an internal check. What I discover, I already know – the wanderess still has places to go.
I complete the external check. My smile says it all.
I say in my sassiest inner voice, “The nomad is home. Bring on the camel.”
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