a nomadic season

July 14, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

These COVID years alongside hybrid and remote work have massively shifted social norms. While the new normal certainly varies by region and one's risk appetite, I can certainly say I feel a bit lost. In the past year, we have moved six times, which is six times too many in my opinion. I was fortunate in New York to only have moved 3 times in 7 years, and in Hong Kong to be able to stay in the same place for the 4+ years I was there. Any notion of building community is incredibly difficult, and while Zoom calls, WhatsApp, and Hangouts can fill some of the gaps in physical or social distancing, there's no real substitute for a real life interaction.

GersGers in the open plains of outer Mongolia

In this season, I am reminded of the nomadic tribes who wander the picturesque grasslands of Mongolia. They move camp anywhere from 4 to 30+ times a year depending on seasonality and the grazing needs of their animals. Favoring mobility, exploration, and fluidity, they have built their lives around perpetual movement and intentional change, limiting their personal possessions to only what they can move quickly and easily over vast distances. In my limited experience and interactions with these nomadic tribes, my sense was that they placed less value in material goods and accumulation, but instead find deeper value in immersing themselves in nature, exploration, and cherishing the challenge of constant change.

 

I think we have much to learn from the nomadic life. While my nomadic season bears no little resemblance to that of the nomadic Mongolian tribes, I have learned a few things from my very limited observations during my time there a few years back:

  • Accumulating experiences is better than accumulating stuff
  • Building relationships with people you love and care about is more valuable than building empires
  • When you have to pack your life into a suitcase or ger (yurt) to live out of for an indeterminate amount of time, it is a good forcing function to understand all the stuff that's non-essential

 

The overused trope "less is more" certainly holds true for the freedom that comes with having less literal baggage, but there's also a mental freedom that is derived from not having to worry, protect, and preserve that stuff. Perhaps the anxiety shifts to different persuasions - the uncertainty of not knowing the next place to live, having to find new community and make new friends, feeling like a stranger everywhere you go.

 

“The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire..”

- C.S. Lewis


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