I read a very interesting article yesterday by a young lady that lives a nomdic life traveling to distant places for extended periods. She was questioning her life and the wisdom of forming brief friendships only to have to leave again in a few months.
Her soul sounded tired and I felt for her. I know what it’s like, having to spend two or three months in a place. It’s never long enough to form lasting bonds and the thought of having to leave again is always in the back of your mind. It can and does place a huge amount of stress on you, particularly in those quiet moments when we have time to be introspective.
The question she was asking I suppose is whether it’s worth it? Should you engage with people beyond the level of a simple acquaintance. If your reading this now, and I hope you do, the answer is an emphatic yes.
We live this kind of life by choice, having sacrificed the comforts of a physical place to call home. Our home is wherever we happen to find ourselves, often more than not, driven by circumstance, chance, work and the people we encounter on our journies.
I have made a few lasting friendships on my journey. These friends are spread far and wide and would offer me the shirts off their back if they knew I needed it. I have also made many fair weather friends, people that will break out a huge smile of genuine welcome were our paths to cross again. They would invite me into their homes, offer me a meal and even a bed for the night.
I keep in contact with most via email or social media, an occasional hello, how’s your life and the family, etc. Some I never hear from again, yet I know despite this lack of communication, that we still remain friends.
The important distinction to make here is that I don’t look to any of these friends for emotional support. They are simply a part of my experience, a lot like the memories, photos and stories of the villages and homes they occupy. Faces that will always inhabit my memories and illicit a smile when I think back on them.
They have enriched my life in so many ways, sharng their culture and their history, their homes and families. For a brief period, in each instance they are the ones who have given me a home, a temporary shelter amd a place to rest an often weary head and heart.
I have learnt very valuable lessons along the way, about humility, about gratitude and I think most importantly about being human. My greatest teachers have been the most humble of people, often with barely enough for thier own tables. My home, when I settle again, will always be open to you, fellow traveller.
A warm meal will be waiting on the table and we will sit together and share pieces of our lives whilst we break bread and share wine. You may move on or you may choose to stay a while and share my home.
When you leave, we will part friends, bound by thing than schools, work, hobbies and mutual acquaintances. Perhaps the act of sharing our humanity is the one true measure of friendship.
I am fortunate. I have a friend who will always be there for me, through thick and thin. I love her deeply and we have supported each other emotionally for years. She would not however open her home to others and invite in a stranger. She is focused and this where the difference lies. Our travelling friends are gregarious, spreading themselves thin, much like we do, sharing themselves amongst many. To expect more from them is unfair.
Finally, to the young nomad who yearns for home, it may be your time to to put down roots and welcome tired travellers to your table.