This is my final post. I am taking a break from nomad life to pursue my other passion of social justice. In December, I will begin a new career directing the organizing and advocacy programs and activities with the Greater Cincinnati Area Homeless Coalition. I want to give my time, talent, and energy toward those projects. Wealth disparity and access to affordable housing is a rapidly accelerating crisis throughout the United States, and specifically in the growing cities like Cincinnati where I currently live.
I moved to Cincinnati in January after accepting a position with a different organization. In April, it became apparent to me that I was not a fit for either the organizational culture or the responsibilities of the position. Had I not signed a lease, I would have packed up and returned to Northern California, or perhaps even Los Angeles. I feel like Cincinnati has invited me to stay though. I have been connected with a supportive circle of friends who gather at the new moon each month, and we share our struggles, intentions, and visions.
After I hit the final wall with the other organization, I submitted a resignation notice without a solid opportunity yet confirmed. I had ideas: go to Budapest to finally write the novel that has been cultivating in my head for a decade; lead wilderness excursions for at-risk youth; slide easily back into my professional network of friends and colleagues in Sacramento and perhaps accept that I am a Californian; build my portfolio of freelance writing clientele; or launch into the great unknown of endless cover letters, resumes, and phone screenings, to land in perhaps another mid-sized city where I would rediscover more new supermarkets, more new freeways, and more new subtle cultural variances of acceptable social behavior. Fortunately, two days after resigning, I was offered the Community Organizing Director position. Cincinnati is inviting me to stay for awhile longer.
What is the difference between “living somewhere” and “passing through?” During my nearly two decades of adult life, everywhere I have been has felt like a temporary arrangement. Most of my housing has been month-to-month, and my minimalist lifestyle allows for relatively effortless transition. Although I accept the invitation to stay in Cincinnati, I will maintain the fluidity in my physical, mental, and emotional capacity to follow the direction of my most sacred and fulfilling path. That path will never include a microwave, a television, a plush couch, or the other heavy belongings people notice missing from my living space.
Northern California is where I feel the most at home. Perhaps that will change over time, but I know a piece of my heart is still roaming the Redwood forest in Humboldt County, dancing to the drum circle on Moonstone Beach, and organizing free markets and skill shares with the anarchist collective. In a parallel universe, a version of me probably has dreadlocks and a (regrettable) face tattoo.
One thing I have learned as a nomad is that the future is unwritten. It is only a projection of my past trajectory. My past is also unwritten. Research indicates that memories change over time. Those details are important; they influence my future as it is created from the energetic movement of the past.
The second lesson is to pack light. The less I carry, the less I have to lose, and the more I can direct my energy toward trying to figure out what I’m doing here on this planet. I don’t know the meaning, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with accumulating numbers in a bank account, or collecting Instagram likes.
The third and final lesson is to accept the temporary nature of all relationships. Every interaction is a relationship. Some interactions extend for many years, some are moments long. Some interactions are intentional, significant, empowering, and radiant. Some are unconscious, mired in deeply unexplored fear, and toxic. Accept them all for what they are, and release them when it is time. I haven’t fully integrated this into my life; one person still gets to hold my bitter hatred, and although I actively work toward forgiving him, I’m not there yet.
I will continue to write, but my work will be directed toward social justice. I want to tell others’ stories and no longer my own. I may not be “retiring” from nomad life, but I’m definitely taking a break. I am building a semi-permanent platform for my yurt, and my camel is content to relax peacefully for the next cycle of seasons. This spot looks good, for now…