We tend to fight our impulses. Neither Susan nor I have felt particularly drawn to, or satisfied, living in one place. We each have lived in multiple locations over our four-plus decades on this planet, coincidentally both living in Massachusetts as children, then moving to Northern California for middle and high school, moving again to central and southern California for “higher education”, then Northern California and Central Arizona to pursue “careers”. Eventually both of us ended up in Bend, Oregon to escape lives that didn’t feel authentic. We desired simplicity and a greater connection with the outdoors.
While Bend fulfilled many of our physical desires and environmental requirements, neither of us felt it to be home. Like many of you reading this, we aspired to travel and live a more nomadic and simple life. We’ve been doing so for the past 16 months, living in our Chevy van, REI tent, and various hotels across the West. We haven’t been persistently moving as we understand that the migrant life for us isn’t necessarily constant change of location but rather consistent movement of body, and growth of mind and spirit. Essentially it is critical for us to continually learn and stretch our comfort zones by placing ourselves in new experiences.
While certainly we can do this in a fixed location, such as Bend, at this point in my life I feel I need to add the element of discomfort to force myself into growing and experiencing. It can become incredibly easy for myself to be lazy and fall into unhealthy, yet comfortable, habits when I settle into a place. It is in our DNA, to a degree, to seek comfort and ease. Too long in one location and I develop patterns which don’t support my goals of continual physical movement and mental and spiritual growth. I tend to fall into habits of ease and familiarity, such that each day becomes a repeat of the previous. The same cup of coffee, the same commute, the same job, the same trail, the easy lunch choice, the unhealthy dinner choice, the overindulgence of Netflix or social media. Living a nomadic lifestyle that is built on a foundation of movement and simplicity disrupts my ability to fall into patterns that keep me from progress.
That said, this way of living is fluid. We do stop and create wise habits. We paused and lived in the Eastern Sierra for 6 months to expose ourselves to something new in respect to experiences in Nature, work, and simple living from a van in a fixed location.
We are on the road as I write this, on our way back from a short reconnect with friends and family in Bend and on our way to new trails, new work experiences, and different living options in Prescott, AZ. We felt it was time to move on from Bishop. We are becoming more adept at listening to our gut and making decisions against the grain (so to speak) of the culture we were brought up in. Responsibility and commitment doesn’t have to be fixed or tactile; we can be accountable to an idea and a way of life that isn’t fully flushed out but still feels right.
What we know is that we’re drawn to the goal of living with less and the challenge of becoming self sufficient to allow us to follow the more natural ebbs and flows of our lives. We know we pursue connection with Nature and that connection may take different forms with the seasons.
We know we don’t subscribe to a belief that one must plant roots in the physical local sense, but that one can feel fulfilled and connected in a migrational pattern. We are continually learning about ourselves and one another. We are learning that happiness is a choice, and meaning is a result of conscious decision. And it may be that the impulses we are afraid to follow are really our hearts and guts leading us where we are meant to be next, guiding us to what we are meant to learn next. There’s no reason not to meet these instincts with enthusiasm, optimism and vigor.
— Paul & Susan