no – mad
definition: a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.
They say impermanence is the only constant. This is an ideal I struggled with when I was 11-12 years old and thought every decision I made, down to which tee-shirt I wore, would affect me for the rest of my life and forever. Of course it sounds silly now, but in the moment it felt like the uncontrollable truth.
Going through life, especially as a punk-rock pre-teen, with the idea that permanence would find it’s way into every step that I took was a very stressful thought, yet I also found comfort in this misunderstanding. A small part of my brain praised this idea that nothing would change from today to tomorrow to ten years from now. It took a couple slaps in the face and a few eye-opening experiences to be incredibly grateful life didn’t work that way. Otherwise I would probably be seen walking down the street still in my terribly ripped up jeans, red hair dye on my forehead, and my mind milling about unimportant nothings.
The positive side of impermanence brings peace to think that the dead flowers will bloom again when the weather brightens and the not-so great grade I got on one assignment won’t matter next semester. Of course it is our responsibility to help this endless change move forward positively by learning from our mistakes and giving the sometimes not so easy forgiveness, to others and yourself.
Now that brings me back to 11 year old Syd and how much she would have worried about life moving here to there and the next place every few months. After some learning and expanding comfort zones, 17 year old Syd on the other hand, can’t imagine a life without the constant packing and hopping around.
A nomad truly lives the life of impermanence. Some people (or google images) might picture a nomad as a un-groomed wanderer going about the world on camel or horseback. I have begun to picture a girl with a trekking backpack half the size of her body and a notebook flooded with drawings and revelations. The 21st century nomad.
I have been contemplating when this change from girl with notebook hiking around mindlessly to nomadic wanderer happens, and I am sure this “aha” moment is different for each traveler. For me, it was when I was no longer “homesick.” Not to say that I didn’t find myself missing my family or my friends, but simply accepting the fact that I will make my way back to them.
Pictures and journal entries used to be my emotional support to “relive” these times where the grass is seemingly greener. I still take a walk down memory lane from time to time, but I have stopped living in the past. Change is the only constant and I am grateful I am not the person I was when I was 11 or 13 or 15 because if I was, it means I wouldn’t have learned much. It’s apart of growing up – and I see now how we never truly stop growing.
It is easy to look at where the grass was greener and have this internal desire to return to that patch of green. But, the nomad inside of me has grown stronger and has the desire instead to keep exploring. Not to forget these green patches, but to accept that these green patches will always be there once we have made them.
Being a nomad, a wanderer, a vagabond isn’t about going through life and going away forever. It’s about traveling from here to there and back again. It’s about making connections throughout the world and throughout the local community. About leaving green grass everywhere and living the life of impermanence.