One of my dearest of friends is a nomadic world traveler. The world truly is his oyster and home, with no particular place in x,y,z that defines his identity beyond today, and possibly tomorrow. Those of you who know me, know who I am talking about.
In thinking about him today, I realize just how much the mind uses location to anchor the identity of a person in the mind’s perception and organization of its social or mental network. I think of the well-known memorization technique that uses location clues to “hang” concepts onto, like hanging the numbers of Pi onto different bookshelves and countertops in a virtual representation of your house. So too does our minds orient people in a location-based mental map in order to organize our network of friends.
So what happens to my dear friend in this scenario? He floats in an empty space lost without an anchor to hold him in my mind. I’m sure he doesn’t mind – perhaps even relish in the thought of causing my mind to work a little bit harder to adapt to nontraditional lives, justifiably so.
But my pondering today is on the concept of identity in a nomadic life, and the loss of nomadic living in today’s society. With the loss of nomadic motion, it is easy to buy into the idea that we gain the ability to advance, as if a solid footing is a requirement to build mental structures, family structures, technological structures. The rejection of nomadic life is cited as the reason why advanced society has flourished.
In this day and age where people are increasingly working from home, and work and social lives increasingly digitize, location demands less of a role in our societal requirements. While this can result in the retreat of one’s identity into further smaller shells where people never leave their homes, with groceries delivered, and all other needs fulfilled by the all mighty internet pipe. But it can just as easily be the opposite – we can return to the embracing of life and identity that is independent of location, of a nomadic life where you travel to the place that optimizes your sustainment and not vice versa.
In honor of the nomadic life, get out your spears and enjoy a taste of boar – at least today’s mass production version. Herb crusted pork loin – and wow, it was so juicy it didn’t need drippings or gravy.
Secret Ingredient: Adding a layer of herb paste under the breadcrumb crust to ensure it adheres.
Music accompaniment: Bob Dylan’s Time out of Mind – manly and honoring the gray clouds of a Pacific Northwest day