≡ Menu
Vagabond Journey
Are We Not Nomads? Why We Have to Keep Moving post image

Are We Not Nomads? Why We Have to Keep Moving

What is that calling that tells us to keep moving?

I keep thinking about this scene from Lost: Jack–distraught and wearing a Jim Morrison beard– keeps saying “We have to go back!” He is haunted by the Island, it won’t let him go. I am the same way about the Road; sometimes I feel like running out of this room, climbing behind the wheel of a van or a homemade camper, and heading back to the desert. I see myself just wandering, no destination or goals aside from experiencing new places and seeing new things. I imagine evenings spent sipping whiskey in remote bars while eavesdropping on strangers. It is so vivid to me I can smell gasoline and taste the dusky burn of Jameson.

I am back in Portland now. I am here physically, but my mind is back in the desert — We have to go back!

Part of me is chiding myself for not buckling down and finding a real job so my girlfriend and I can get a place of our own. Part of me feels selfish that I can’t do what most of my friends have done: Get a career, get a stable place to live, and do all the other things grown-ups are supposed to do.

I also understand that doesn’t work for everyone and you can’t force it if it isn’t in your nature. Some people are meant to travel, living hand to mouth and sleeping in rest areas or on BLM land or cheap motels in obscure, little towns. I think about that sort of thing and I feel elated and then sad because I cannot do that right now.
Cannot mixed in with a healthy dose of should not: I am sharing my life with someone. I love her and want to be with her and she needs a stable place to raise her teenaged daughter. Being on the road does not work for my girlfriend right now, maybe never.

I am sharing this with you because maybe you understand what I am feeling. Maybe you’re sitting in a cubicle or standing on a work site reading this and completely relating to what I am saying. Perhaps you find yourself getting lost in Craigslist ads for RVs or reading about Bali or Andorra or Bolivia on line. You always rein yourself in because you have a car payment or a mortgage or your kid needs braces or maybe all three so you force yourself to buckle down and do what you think you should be doing.

It haunts you, though, doesn’t it–the road? All those places you’ve seen on maps or your iPhone or a news segment that you caught three years ago that everyone else has forgotten but has left you haunted.

We have to go back!

In a few minutes I will focus on looking for a job. Candy and I need to get a place by May so we’re both hustling to find steady work–I try to focus on that, I really do. She talks about things we should be doing here in Portland and asks me to come up things to do locally and I really try–but my mind is somewhere else. There are so many roads, so many towns, and so many places to see in whatever time is left I can’t stop thinking about them. I’ve seen pictures but I need to feel the chill of the air and hear the accents of the locals and smell the trees.
And I know you understand all this; maybe you understand it all too well.

What can we do? What is the right decision? What life makes sense both in our hearts and in our minds?

Are we not nomads?

Does this ever get easier?

I certainly hope so for both of us.

Filed under: Travel Psychology, USA

About the Author:

Izaak Diggs is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. He is currently at work on a book focusing on the deserts west of the Rocky Mountains. His website is here. has written 3 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.