After coming back from Cambodia a few weeks ago where I spent a while working on anthropology research, I felt drawn to experience a nomadic adventure again. I therefore decided to embrace the open road but this time in the U.S.
I wanted to discover the Pacific Northwest, being fascinated by what seemed to be a wild, free-spirited and creative region for exploration.
This expedition led me to the states of Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
I’d like to share another way of traveling—unveiled to me while out on the road.
Before my trip to the U.S., I was either going to find a job and settle somewhere, or simply travel—which meant discovering new places by spending a few days in each location of interest.
Before this trip, I didn’t know that another way of traveling was possible.
I went from city to city. I booked guest houses, hotels or an Airbnb and stayed in each place for a few days—all planned beforehand. That also meant booking differing means of transportation to get from one point to another, in advance as well.
Let’s call this way of exploring the “traveling way.” The “traveling way” didn’t really allow me to reach my soul and the core of my feelings.
Staying at hotels or guest houses presents true downsides. It can be expensive. That also means we’re on the move a lot and must spend time considering where we’re going and how to get there.
This practical way of traveling is a distraction for those who travel to reach the core of their feelings and soul.
The “traveling way” doesn’t always allow us to be confronted with people and to experience what the local life is truly like.
Following the tourist path is good for sightseeing, but not really meeting locals and seeing how they lived—in comparison to how we live at home.
While exploring the U.S. in this way, I felt that my experiences would be comparable to the average traveler. I would either visit cities to see their monuments, streets, shops and restaurants or explore nature and take pictures of the green, wild landscape before traveling to a new locale.
The “traveling way” didn’t allow me to feel truly uncomfortable and to face the unknown. I hardly ever had the time to reflect and introspect—but that’s precisely what I’m looking for as a traveler.
I’m actually drawn to wanderlust because it entails getting lost—losing our bearings and attachments. That’s how one can truly drop into their heart and reach the core of their soul.
Furthermore, the “traveling way” didn’t always elicit that deep sense of freedom. I couldn’t stay more than planned at a given location if I wanted to. I couldn’t leave earlier if the pulse and energy of a city wasn’t properly resonating with my own. True freedom is being able to stay as long as we want to at a given place, depending on how we feel there.
True freedom possibly lies in allowing ourselves to have no plans and see almost daily, how we feel and what we’re then drawn to do.
I’m drawn to wanderlust, because it exemplifies freedom to me.
True freedom could reside for those who like to explore geographically, not in the “traveling way,” but instead, in nomadism.
Nomadism and working remotely could be new ways of exploring differient regions or countries that we feel attracted to while remaining slightly unsettled. It lies in between being settled somewhere, and always being on the go as “a traveler” might otherwise do.
An interesting way of doing so could be to propose one’s services at houses along the way and help some people in their daily chores or activities (harvesting of any sort, care-taking of kids or of animals, and so on).
Generally speaking, nomadism could be defined as a new way of living that allows one to arrive at places out of curiosity and interest, and stay there as long as we want to, with no predefined plan. That also allows us to remain for a adequate period of time at a given locale and truly experience what being human means there.
By traveling I have figured out what kind of exploring experiences I would truly feel drawn to in the future.
By experiencing a new adventure out in the world I have discovered, almost randomly, new ways of being unsettled.
That’s by being both free to stay somewhere where we feel comfortable, and also free to keep moving and embracing the road again, when the time has come.
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: Sophie Gregoire
Image: Marina Blazevic at Pixoto
Apprentice Editor: Czarina Morgan; Editor: Travis May