The Modern Nomad


Once upon a time, humans were nomadic.  Our belongings were limited to the skin wrapped around our hips, a weapon or tool or two, and maybe some animals, rugs or random pots thrown in too.  We roamed free through the forests and across the plains.  We didn’t have to be home by nightfall, we just slept under the stars, wherever we were.

Then we got sick of roaming and settled down, building walls around us to shut out the night…or shut ourselves in.  We began to collect things—furniture, clothes, books, pianos, fine china dishes, cushions and crystal glasses.  A home quickly changed from a safe place to pass the night and spend time with your family to a showroom of your life, full of advertisements of your wealth, status and style.  Furniture was once built to last generations, fine china dishes were family heirlooms and clothes came in two sets—Good and Everyday.

Now, we want to be nomads again, but we don’t want to cope with the simple lifestyle.  We race around the world chasing fame, fortune or fulfilment.  Every time we move, we set up house all over again.  We don’t want to cart furniture all over the place, so the days of good solid furniture have gone.  Cheap, veneered plywood lookalikes do the trick, complete with gratuitous cardboard and Styrofoam packing.  When it comes time to move on, we sell it or dump it at the tip and buy a whole new lot for the new place.

So now we have a waste problem.  The days of heirlooms have long passed.  Living life has become about the present, not the FUTURE.  Yet, we all expect a FUTURE to be available to us.

A modern nomad--living a 'chilled' life on a houseboat in Kerala, India. (Photo: M Saunders)

© Manu Saunders 2010

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