So many people live out of a suitcase these days that it’s hardly a unique or sought after lifestyle. In fact, those practised at this behaviour will likely attest that it’s certainly not the glamorous, nomadic affair some people dream about.
Quite frankly it’s a pain in the arse lugging your entire life from one side of the globe to another. These fleeting nomads who jet set on a whim should be fancy free with nothing but a shoulder bag or lightweight backpack. In my case I find myself trudging through the airport laden with at least one oversized suitcase, a backpack, a handbag, and sometimes even a standard shopping bag which I try to disguise as something newly purchased duty free.
Packing for an undetermined period of time with multiple layovers, seasons and all possibility of activity is downright annoying. Two months ago I was staring at exactly the same collection of clothing and bags as I am now, and 5 months before that, and 7 months before that, and, and, and. It’s the one thing I never improve at no matter how many times I do it. I actually think I’m getting worse, or the hoarding spirit within me is starting to run rampant in my old age; or perhaps I’ve just been off trail too long.
Simplistic living in nature out of a backpack has grown frighteningly foreign to me. I pulled my sleeping bag out of my backpack today and genuinely hugged it like an old friend I hadn’t seen in months. I’ve gone beyond the itchy feet into somewhere unknown, where sleeping under the stars and falling asleep to the sound of a running stream and frogs croaking seems like something out of a fairy tale.
What does this tell me? I need to get back into the game. Baby steps though it may be, I need to venture back into the wilderness and rediscover that fearless human being who made a trail their home and felt more comfortable in the company of dirt and chipmunks, than any lavish home comforts could ever provide.
Since my last adventure in Spain I’ve lived a completely opposite existence to the previous three months of my life. I was about to rid myself of all belongings, give my money to charity, and dedicate my life to the service of others. Instead I went to the other extreme, made money while living a rather decadent lifestyle in one of the richest countries in the world.
What I learned from this is the importance of balance. There was something fundamental missing from this lifestyle as there may have been heading in the other direction. Balance. That humble little word that seems so obvious yet is so easily forgotten. It’s something a lifestyle such as mine doesn’t often account for. When I’m working I’m pushing 15-hour days while slipping into some kind of parallel universe in which I find myself unable to communicate with the outside world. When I’m not working I find myself doing the exact same at the other end of the spectrum.
I spoke to a friend in Canada a few days ago who has recently moved there for work with her husband. I asked if she found herself in some kind of bubble and her answer was straightforward and direct; ‘no, I still manage to communicate like a regular person.’ I guess it shocked me. Perhaps that’s what balance is, taking on new responsibilities without neglecting the old. Or is it solely about work and play, give and take, yin and yang or healthy living?
The last time I rented an apartment was in 2012 while living in London, and this year one of the things I’m most looking forward to is having my own funded space. I thought the ultimate freedom was living fancy free without a postcode or a place to call home; but after almost 3 years of moving from one place to another, dragging my life on wheels through airports, onto trains and into the spare rooms of friends and family between jobs, it’s time to find a place I call home.
I’m not going drastic here, I’m talking 5 months and then let’s reevaluate. I’ve decided to move back to a city I once called home, that has exquisite nature on its doorstep, people I love, and is close to one of the elements in my life that has left a lasting impression on my being and soul. The Trail. I’m not about to grab my pack and head down to the Southern Terminus, but knowing it’s there, somewhat within reach, motivates me to get out and explore other trails. Sure, hiking 30 miles with a pack these days would leave me for dead, but perhaps I can find balance in the outdoors; a day hike or an overnight jaunt before allowing my tendency for extremes to take over again.