Would living life one way be considered a nomadic lifestyle? I was just reading the Wikipedia entry on Nomads and wondered if my thoughts on movement through place are essentially a nomadic approach to living life. Or, are they different? Here’s what Wikipedia says (emphasis added for later discussion):
Nomadic people (Greek: νομάδες, nomádes, “those who let pasture herds”, commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but traditional nomadic behavior is increasingly rare in industrialized countries. Nomadic cultures are discussed in three categories according to economic specialization: hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and “peripatetic nomads”.
Nomadic hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game, is by far the oldest human subsistence method.
Pastoralists raise herds, driving them or moving with them, in patterns that normally avoid depleting pastures beyond their ability to recover.
Peripatetic nomads, who offer the skills of a craft or trade to those with whom they travel, are most common in industrialized nations.
The first thing that strikes me about the article is that it is primarily a discussion of communities and cultures. This is certainly different from what I’ve been talking about in regards to movement through place. One of the primary ways in which an individual is able to really experience a place is by arriving there alone.
In my post Movement Through Place, I mentioned the need to remove any cloak of familiarity in order to expose yourself to a place and let it wash over you. When a community travels together, the very nature of the community – its purpose – is to offer inclusion to its members through the exclusion of outsiders. These closed communities provide the kind of structure and support that their members would otherwise have to discover or develop anew when arriving in a new place alone. It is the need and act of discovering the new community – I’ll call it the hosting community – which fundamentally alters a person, bringing change to their point of view on the world.
The third item I highlighted in the Wikipedia excerpt is the most interesting to me. Who or what are peripatetic nomads? There seems to be some confusion about this. On the one hand, people say that gypsies are peripatetic nomads – this again implies the presence of a closed community separate from a host community. But then I came across a site called Nandango where the author writes:
Ok, so I’m not a gypsy or a carnie but even still I could be a more modern day version of this, someone moving to settle populations offering my skills in exchange for work or to perform services (and no, not those kinds of services). Since I graduated from high school 12 years ago I’ve moved back and forth between 21 cities/towns. That’s not including moves into different apartments within the same town. Though maybe one of those shouldn’t really count because although technically it was a different city it was only 15 min away. And yes some of those towns are repeats but months or in some cases years, separated the time in between. The point being that I had to pack everything up and move it, only to pack it all up and move it again later. This last stint in Utah really slowed me down. I was there four years which is by far the longest I’ve lived anywhere since high school. The next longest was one full consecutive year in Hawaii. Every other place less than a year.
This is very interesting to me, and I wonder how it felt to move around so frequently. I wonder if they experienced the kind of movement through place I’ve been describing on this site. And I wonder if they ever tire of living that kind of life.