How Does Living as a Vagabond Become Tiresome?
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO—When I first left New York back in September of 2013, I had a close-knit group of friends and family that was somewhat enamored with the choice I made. I had long been a member of their socio-economic clan, living and working in the confines of New York City, and now I was off to do something different.
I launched a blog that very same month in an effort to keep everyone back at home in the loop about how I was spending my time—namely, living in Australia. It was a new and exciting thing for me to do, and I think a lot of people found it interesting. I was someone that was once one of them, and now I was making a choice to live a different kind of life—who knows where I would end up!
Yet I was, and still am, a traveler and a vagabond. I didn’t move to Southern California and set up shop there, gathering a new group of friends and ingratiating myself into a new community of people. I’ve spent the past few years up and moving every few months, in a frantic search for new experience.
It’s meant that for a few years now I haven’t been a member of any community at all. I’m removed from the rhythms of my friends and family back in New York, and I haven’t stayed in any one place long enough to truly appreciate myself as a rooted member of a community. Getting a rewards cards from Safeway here in Steamboat is the closest I’ve come to any meaningful stability.
I’ve had quite a number of new and exciting experiences, but as time goes on and I find myself further and further from communities I was once a part of, these accomplishments don’t mean much to them. I’m out in the world, living my life, and I don’t have as many direct ties to home as I once did. These “cool and exciting” experiences that I’ve had are only really shared with myself, and those I had them with. Yet for the people I share them with, this is just life itself. It’s the status quo. It’s not new and exciting, and none of us are “breaking the mold”. It’s now my job to tell others about what I’m doing instead of them having any interest in my travels; trying not to be a haughty prick is paramount, but it’s difficult when you’re on a completely different wavelength from anyone else from home and simply want to cue them in as to what you're up to.
Instead of having a home and being slightly different from others at home, I’m a member of this roving community of traveling seasonal workers. The friends I’ve made are scattered across the world, products of a special time and place that we shared. In many ways, this makes for a stronger bond than the one I have with many people I grew up with, but in many ways, it’s far less satisfying, because in the end this journey I’ve embarked upon has had only one passenger: me. I’ve been a lone wolf, living my life and making my decisions all on my own without others to influence me. It’s a profound feeling of freedom and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything since there is still so much in this world that I want to do and see.
Yet the lesson I’ve taken from my travels is that the spice of life comes from living in a community of like-minded people, and to be fully engaged in work that you care about doing. Most of all, you need to know that what makes you happy at the end of a day is not the same thing as what’s going to make you happy at the end of a year. Sometimes, the experiences you have are gratifying in the short-term, but less rewarding over the long-term.
As I continue this little journey of mine, knocking off all of these adventurous bucket list items I’ve always wanted to do, and knowing that I can’t really settle down until I do, I try to keep these lessons in the back of my mind: that this is what I want for now, but ultimately, such a short-sighted view on life is not what’s going to make me or anyone else truly happy. It’s going to come from building a life from the ground up, in a place I really care about, with people I really want to spend my time with.