It's Tuesday in Medellin. Nomad vibes are high in this reasonably-sized café in Zona Rosa in Medellin. This jungle of a city. I’ve never seen anything like it. Bamboo and palm trees and streams running up against the concrete infrastructure. Cafes and bars and restaurants piled on top of one another, like some bohemian jungle dream. I smirk and think of Portland. Hipsters would love it here.
Hell, I love it here.
It’s been three days and I’m not sure I want to leave except to find the next place I love as much as this one (maybe even more). I love that I can sit in a café in the middle of the city and smell what I might on a hike through the forest. I love that it’s fairly populated, that the conversation around me is lively but not to the point of distraction. I love that while the street is crowded with little shops and restaurants, it’s not too crowded with people—and a good number of the shops have yet to open their doors a little after 11am on a Tuesday.
—WONDERING ABOUT THE WANDERING—
Clumps of expats and nomads sip coffee around the trendy wooden tables in the late morning sunshine and swap stories of being dropped in the jungle with nothing but what they could carry, setting up new communities in desolate places, volunteering at festivals to get free access, meeting a fellow nomad tens of thousands of miles from home who happens to be traveling with the girl who grew up next door. I don’t know these individuals, but we are of the same tribe. And we know it. The searchers. The wanderers. The adventurists. The explorers.
I don’t get up and talk to them today; I’m not feeling especially social. Just a smile and a polite nod here and there does the trick though. Earbuds in, Nahko belting bridge-building anthems through my brain, a sweet sliver of sun peeking through the greyer bits of the morning to warm my bare shoulders… And I am at peace with my Macbook. I am thinking about what I will create next. I am thinking about what these strangers around me are creating as I type away here. I am wondering about the wandering and whether this love affair with the allure of the unknown will ever end for me.
I long to understand what makes us this way—the nomads. The wanderers. The infinite searchers. Is there some common thread in our genetic makeup? Some similarity in our neurological patterns? Does it have something to do with circumstance? With mindset? Or is it different for everyone?
—RELATING & REFLECTING—
A Paisa from another era paces thoughtfully past the open café-front in a button-down, an oversized fedora, and a leather-sheathed machete for the fourth time since I sat down, carrying a sparse white Styrofoam box with what look like potted plants and perhaps a trough. I watch him and wonder what his aim is; he must be walking the block or something. But unlike other artisans and peddlers we’ve seen in our travels, he does not stop to ask patrons if they’d like to buy flowers. He simply keeps his cadence, continuing on past the café time after time.
I can relate to him—or at least the story I tell myself about him, in my extremely limited perspective. That is to say—I have walked the same patterns for a great deal of my life. I have found comfort in the footfalls of the familiar. I came to love the variables I could observe from the safety of my well-worn rhythm. But I realized, like many of us, that too much comfort can kill.
While I arrived in my "first stop" city just 66 days ago, the preparation for this adventure began long before that—the logistic, of courses: applying to Remote Year, wrapping up my life in California, purging the majority of my belongings, getting rid of my apartment, working out insurance, budget, what to pack—and handling the thousand other interstitials that come up when you attempt to transition to a lifestyle where the only "home base" you really have is inside your chest and your mind (and your laptop, hah). This is not to mention the emotional and interpersonal aspects of leaving your home country for an extended period of time. The support and encouragement of my friends and family was absolutely critical to my eventual departure into nomad life.
Fire comes to mind when I try to explain the sequence: the moment I bought in to trying this new way of living, the moment I snapped the match against the matchbox and stared longingly at the life I'd come to know as status quo, the deep breath as courage somehow sent my wrist the power to flick the flame toward the familiar and watch the world I know burn down slowly, leaving only the most important of things standing—leaving only that which I truly love, and a newfound void demanding creation. Demanding purposed action toward giving the best of myself back to this world—if I can manage to unearth it, that is.
What does that look like? For now, I believe it begins with an exploration of a series of themes and topics that have emerged over the last decade, as I moved across the US, working tirelessly in tech and innovation while simultaneously fighting to find myself, my voice, my purpose. It is my belief that once we live a life aligned with our values and interests, founded on a conscious understanding of our purpose, we come into a state of being whereby we can literally achieve anything we imagine.
Throughout the course of this next chapter in my life, I want to explore, analyze, and share tactics for moving freely and easily, as individuals and collectives, into that purposed state of being. I want to reduce the amount of time and energy we spend trying to pin down our purpose (and a meaningful application of that in the world) so that each of us can spend more of our lives in the peace and passion that comes with moving through the world intentionally and, ultimately, altruistically. I want all of us to lean into a life where we follow our curiosities freely. The intentionality comes with introspection and self-awareness; the altruism comes with understanding how what is unique in each of us fits into the macrocosm of the collective, and so contributes to the very evolution of our species.
—TRANSIENCE, A MOVEMENT, AN OUTLIER—
The implicit transience of life as a nomad is not without whiplash but as I reflect on the events of the last month, year, two years, five years, I start to see the thread that pulls through my actions, experience, and growth—all the phases and events that brought me to this. They unravel so gracefully in the retrospective lens of my mind, each event fitting neatly into the proverbial toolbox of lessons, wisdom, courage, and strength I would require to do what I am doing now.
The outlier, the thing I didn’t count on, was having a family like the one I’ve found through Remote Year to accompany, challenge, support, and empower me (and hopefully vice-versa!) on this beautiful and at-times-terrifying adventure. And here’s the thing. While Remote Year (Meraki—I’m looking at you) is definitely ruining my life, the nomad community is bigger than you or I may even imagine. I mentioned earlier in this post how I felt among my tribe sitting in this café with strangers, because “nomad vibes” are high here.. It's true. We're all connected in our insatiable quest for the next great adventure.
There is a movement afoot.
The wanderers are at work making this world a little smaller every second. And I am both humbled and honored to be a tiny part of this revolution.