Meaning of It

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CitizenDino

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Jun 17, 2011, 1:25:09 PM6/17/11
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So, I did an interview about my lifestyle and technology recently, and
it brought this idea into stark contrast. What is it ONE IS DOING.
So, there is a lot of talk in the sort of technomad groups, the
minimalist groups, the people on the road groups about the process of
paring down, getting rid of, etc. But, there is very little
discussion as to the WHY.

For example, in the course of the interview I realized that I stayed
in hotels often over the last 12 months, but if I read the posts here
it seems like that sort of thing is just simply not done. Instead the
celebration of the van, bus, tent sort of vibe is what is going on.

But, at some point are we all not doing something, something
specific. Out there.

It seems like this is an almost burning man, bonaroooooo return to
some sort of other ideal life, and it looks down its nose at many.

For example, I know a cat who works at Salesforce. He was away from
his home 48 weeks last year. FOR WORK. He spent almost a full year
traveling the globe living in hotels talking about cloud computing. I
wonder if we would consider him a technomad?

It is a strange thing this search for meaning in a meta world.

Brink of Complexity

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Jun 17, 2011, 2:16:41 PM6/17/11
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So far as I can tell, nomads are never "away from home", they are "always home."  Even the IRS defines it that way (well, it defines "transients" anyway, in P.463 regarding travel expenses), and since income sounds like the question of "doing" that you're referring to, I think their definition is rather relevant here.  

Whether a person who is actually a nomad creatively manages to claim some "tax home" in order to deduct travel expenses is another matter. ;)

Personally, I think the term is loosely available for use by many travelling working people, but I feel like the crux of it really hinges on whether or not a person maintains a specific "home" to "go back" to.  It sounds like your friend does have one, so I personally would call him a frequent traveller rather than a nomad.

OTOH, there are plenty of people who move their home at a slower rate, but still fairly frequently, for example spending 4-5 months at each location.  They are taking their home with them when they travel, and would more easily be considered nomads.

Ultimately, the meaning is in the mind of the traveller. :)

- brink

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Dino Corvino

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Jun 17, 2011, 2:31:59 PM6/17/11
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I agree.  But, I want to compare this to an experience I had.  Over the summer, I met a Marine Sniper who was home from the war on leave or some such stuff.  I met him, we talked a bit, and sort of hung out.  I ended up asking about some stuff that men who are immature ask about, say for example knives.

He ended up telling me that it is all just a tool, not a fetish.  He does not name his knife or gun or backpack.  He carries it, uses it, shoots it, and if it breaks the Marines issue him an new one to soot, use or carry.  The item is not significant, the doing is.

I think from what I have read and taken part in here, and other places is almost a fetish attitude when it comes to some of these things.  Rather than talk about how being mobile allows one to be in Malibu for big surf, we have people go on and on about this or that item or tool.

I find that strangely off putting, but cannot fully understand why.

It seems like a lot of DISCUSSION ABOUT, and not DOING.  I do not know if that makes sense.
--
With Gratitude the Universe is Eternally Abundant

jonvon

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Jun 17, 2011, 3:05:37 PM6/17/11
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Dino,

Someone posted a little while back that her family "follows the weather". They work remote or whatever (I suppose), so work is separate from the journey. I thought that was so beautiful.

I am not a nomad by any definition. But the notion of a nomadic "homing signal" makes sense to me, which BTW is why I follow this group - I hope I can do some of this before I get too old! I remember standing on a merchant marine ship with a friend of my dad's when I was a kid and feeling a strong pull to the sea. Maybe it is a similar thing, the call of a nomadic life.

I think it must have something to do with a kind of earth connectedness, but maybe not the one a farmer experiences, more like the sort a nomadic herdsman knows. Born perhaps out of some sort of ancestral memory. In other words if there is an intrinsic "meaning" in being a nomad, perhaps the knowledge lies somewhere in the body, and is not locatable philosophically beyond surface level definitions. Perhaps it's the sort of thing that could be expressed in a poem, but perhaps not in a discussion about practical things like visas, inoculations and camping gear.

But, I'm just guessing... :)
John Vaughan
http://jonvon.net

Dino Corvino

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Jun 17, 2011, 3:15:10 PM6/17/11
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I think you are going in the direction I think is interesting.  Why are we out here, what is it we are looking for.  What makes out hear better than a condo in Scarsdale?

I think of surfers, a sport that shook up my soul, and how they chase the thing.  They chase surf, live in a backpack and surfbag.

The stuff gets in the way of surfing.  

It seems like a lot of this place the stuff is the thing, and no one is surfing.

Jack Bennett

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Jun 17, 2011, 4:38:53 PM6/17/11
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On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 3:15 PM, Dino Corvino <corv...@gmail.com> wrote:
I think you are going in the direction I think is interesting.  Why are we out here, what is it we are looking for.  What makes out hear better than a condo in Scarsdale?

I think of surfers, a sport that shook up my soul, and how they chase the thing.  They chase surf, live in a backpack and surfbag.

The stuff gets in the way of surfing.  

It seems like a lot of this place the stuff is the thing, and no one is surfing.

The tendency when one only has 100 or 50 or 37 things is to make sure that those are the very, very best possible things that one could have. So that might account for some of the tendency for discussion of peoples "kit" to descent into the minutia.

As we learned from Fight Club "the things you own end up owning you", and this can happen regardless of whether you have a suburban house + 2 cars + boat + [...] or a small backpack that fits in the overhead compartment. And some Buddhist roshi I read once (don't remember who at the moment) said that a monk who renounced everything and owned only a robe and begging bowl could still be attached to that robe and bowl (I'm paraphrasing here).

It's good to have good tools, whether that be clothing, luggage, computer, etc. And it's also good to be somewhat unattached to them.

-Jack

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Jack Bennett | ja...@thirtytwothousanddays.com
Executive and Personal Coach
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Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/32000days

Cherie @Technomadia

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Jun 18, 2011, 3:19:22 AM6/18/11
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The journey and reasons each of us creates these paths are varied and different. Aside from the word freedom being used a lot, I've really not seen lots of similarity in purpose for these sorts of lifestyle.  Those reasons may also be deeply personal, and best shared in person after getting to know one another.    And thus, forums like these tend to gravitated towards what we do have in common and what is less vulnerable to share and what is actually usefully to help each other get to where we want to be - the tools that help make it all possible.  Most folks who find groups like these already know why they are driven to check out a mobile lifestyle. 

And sometimes the reason is just as simple as 'Because it's what I want'.   It doesn't have to be some big pursuit of sport, or enlightenment, or to check things off a bucket list.  I don't have to be 'doing something out there' to be a nomad.  Can't I just simply be living life on my terms?  Sometimes it is just simply to be mobile versus stationary, because I like variety in my life.  Because feeling like one must choose between travel or career is lame. Or that it's silly to put off your dreams of travel for some notion of retirement when there's really nothing stopping you but excuses.  Because we're not all the same, and what works for one person likely won't work for the next.. so thus condo living isn't for everyone, nor should boat living or hotel hopping be either. 

As far as who qualifies as being a nomad...  does it really matter?  There's no one handing out membership cards.  It's a self selecting term.  The nomadic substrate does not make one more or less nomadic, nor does how much one spends, or how much stuff one carries with them.  If someone chooses a career that involves a lot of travel dictated by work, and wants to call themselves a nomad.. who's to say they're right or wrong? Does that really change what they are doing and the enjoyment they do or don't get out of it? Is that really all that different than someone choosing travel, and then finding ways to integrate in an income source?    Being a nomad also doesn't mean one has to give up a home base.. there are plenty of nomadic identified folks who maintain houses/condos/farms/etc.   Being a nomad does NOT mean being completely without a physical home.   Even the guy who coined the term technomad has owned and maintained physical property throughout his journeys. 


Brink of Complexity

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Jun 18, 2011, 4:58:05 AM6/18/11
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Jack, I think the "best of the best" mindset is rather unfortunate.  The "stuff owning you" aspect, to me, seems really a demonstration of a lack of adaptable self-reliance and an over-reliance on tech (including a robe and a bowl), alongside an often inefficient use of the tech.  Inefficient use of tech is really REALLY, I think, a serious driving cause to so much useless discussion about which tech to get for what.  The problem permeates society as a whole, not just among nomads and travellers, and is a driving force behind the idea that we always need newer, better, faster, smaller things. In reality, lots of people just don't know how to maximize use of whatever it is they *do* have.

You don't need the best of the best 37 things in your bag -- *that* feels alot like fetishism, snobbery, and shortsighted creature comfort to me.  You just need any combination that has all the functionality you need, which often turns out to be incredibly little, awesomely mutable, and cheaper than expected!  Insurance and electronics skills and software skills and troubleshooting skills and hacking skills and social skills and security skills and science skills and math skills and problem-solving skills and materials experience and physical agility and mental acuity matter so much more than the stupid stuff, provide for much more satisfyingly interesting opportunities, activities, and stories... and allow creativity and inspiration to flow with much more focus on purpose, aesthetics, meaning, and conscious intent!  I can probably do more with a crappy analog handheld compass and a protractor than most can do with a GPS and altimeter...  and if I don't have those but need to navigate, well, I can probably find a magnet and band pin in a trash can and make one (the altimeter is even easier)... but even if that's out of the picture, you can't take the sky from me!! (i guess these might be some of the "earth connectedness" ideas jonovon mentioned!) 

Someone recently told me about a project essentially challenging the lifespan limits of tech engineering, to design a clock to count accurately for 10 thousand years or more.  I personally think, if such a project exists without further context, that it's an arrogant tech-fetishist waste of resources given that Nature has already provided a marvelously good one. We can embed the laws of planetary motion and current positions into a pieces of plastic or fused glass and bury it, for example. It will be correct for another 4 billion years or so, at a design and production cost of less than $10, with its true worth immeasurable in terms of the implications of such laws in the first place and in the further implications of such simple human-initiated conveyance of them over so many generations!  Anyone with a sky above them can then forever discover what time it is and how much time has passed since inception, with no moving parts required -- only eyes, a mind, and basic math.

Better cameras don't take better pictures, better photographers do.  Surfboards don't catch waves, surfers do. Better clocks don't tell better time, better physicists do. Better firewalls and software won't provide you with better digital security any more than better guns or locks will provide you with better physical security. Your own human mindfulness is the only thing that ultimately matters.  When the mind controls the options for the human rather than the tools, meaning and conscious consideration of options can finally present themselves to the human controlling the mind.

Self-reliance (and insurance for the anxious, clumsy, negligent, or forgetful) completely removes the need to care so much about the particulars of stuff, so a person can finally cut the mental tethers that tie them to it and finally find tech-enabled freedom, rather than tech-fetish travelling.

That's just my completely subjective $0.02 though. :)

- brink

brinkofcomplexity.com

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Soultravelers3

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Jun 18, 2011, 8:54:21 AM6/18/11
to the technomads
We've talked quite a bit about WHY we live as a technomads or what
ever you want to call our open ended, non-stop world trip as a family
for almost 6 years now ( 42 countries on 5 continents on $23/day per
person) on just about every interview we have done and regularly on
our blog.

We're thriving as perpetual world travelers and also find it cheaper
to travel the world than live at home in the USA and more rewarding in
every possible way. I can't imagine a better way to raise a family.

Greater freedom, more time to bond as a family, best possible
education ( especially for mononlingual parents raising a trilingual/
trilterate kiddo) are what we are doing as well as seeing awesome
places like Bora Bora, Bhutan, Barcelona, Jordan, Bangkok etc.

"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion" - Hunt

Once one really experiences the total freedom and aliveness of this
kind of dream life, I think it would be very, very hard to go back to
a "conventional" so called normal life.

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and
driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in
order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car,
and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in
it."
— Ellen Goodman

I think the WHY's of doing this are pretty clear....certainly after
one has done it for a little while. It's a dream for most people and
the reason 4HWW was such a mega hit. ( We are case studies in it but
doing this and blogging about it long before it was written, same with
Art of Non-Conformity).

Tech is making it easier than ever to do it and the economy is forcing
many people to try.

We've become minimalist because it just helps with the freedom and the
longer one does this, the more one realizes how little one really
needs. We just went around the world in 8 months ( 22 airports) and
just took a small carry on each..most of that was tech. This year will
be even less.

I'm the one who says we "follow the weather" because it sure makes
things easier, so we are always in spring or summer and if we want to
ski we'll pick a place like southern Spain where one can ski in the
morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon.

We thrive on always summer, always Saturday. Who wouldn't?

And you don't always have to be in a van or tent or only southeast
Asia to do this. We mostly live very luxuriously in hotels, sea view
furnished 3 bedroom/2ba luxury rentals, resort campsites in our RV in
Europe etc etc and have spent more time in Europe than any where so
far, but also New Zealand, Australia, Kauai etc

"Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed
between man and the universe" Anatole France

I think that is the unifying them....wandering/freedom/choosing life
on your own terms.

I like it that we live a very green life. I love the simplicity. I
love it that I have more time in nature. I love what knowing other
cultures deeply does for my child. I don't have to count how many
things I have or have the latest gadget. For us, it is about the
freedom above everything else. Also travel keeps one more alive than
anything else & why I love this quote:

"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to
experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a
position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for
granted." -- Bill Bryson

I think if you are controlling the travel and digital nomad life
style..ie not having to work for someone else on their time...but
doing things on your own timing, more like native nomads ( who may
spend seasons in different areas and do have some duties to animals &
each other, but mostly are very free and truly cherish that
freedom)..then that is the great value of a technomad world traveling
lifestyle.

One is a world citizen, living in much more freedom than most and even
above most bureaucracy.

Freedom is the big why.

Jack Bennett

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Jun 18, 2011, 1:51:57 PM6/18/11
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On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 4:58 AM, Brink of Complexity <brink...@gmail.com> wrote:
Jack, I think the "best of the best" mindset is rather unfortunate.  The "stuff owning you" aspect, to me, seems really a demonstration of a lack of adaptable self-reliance and an over-reliance on tech (including a robe and a bowl), alongside an often inefficient use of the tech.  Inefficient use of tech is really REALLY, I think, a serious driving cause to so much useless discussion about which tech to get for what.  The problem permeates society as a whole, not just among nomads and travellers, and is a driving force behind the idea that we always need newer, better, faster, smaller things. In reality, lots of people just don't know how to maximize use of whatever it is they *do* have.

Perhaps "best" was not the right word to use. "Most adapted for your individual situation" is the point I was really trying to get across.

For a professional chef, several hundreds (perhaps even thousands of dollars) of knives are a suitable investment, but the most premium laptop might not be. For the professional programmer, those allocations might be be reversed.

You don't need the best of the best 37 things in your bag -- *that* feels alot like fetishism, snobbery, and shortsighted creature comfort to me.  You just need any combination that has all the functionality you need, which often turns out to be incredibly little, awesomely mutable, and cheaper than expected!  Insurance and electronics skills and software skills and troubleshooting skills and

"any combination that has all the functionality you need" - couldn't agree more. However, I'm sure that you'd agree that there are combinations that are more effective and some that are less effective. While the pro-chef in the previous example could probably blow me away in a cooking demo using cheap IKEA knives, they would do even better with tools that are matched to their level of skill and professional practice.

For some areas of your life (e.g. professional practice, serious amateur pursuits), the objective "best" might be what you seek. For other areas, satisficing (i.e. reaching "good enough") will do just fine.

What I was aiming at in my comment was that an "N-things minimalist" is likely to be very, very critical about adding something new to the portfolio of N things that they own / carry. To replace one of those things, a new object must add more value in utility than it takes away in the form of physical or emotional weight.

In that sense, those N things owned by our hypothetical minimalist are going to be the very "best" ... in the sense of optimally adapted for them. Not necessarily the most expensive, or the best known brands, or any of the ways that people gauge the quality of goods. Just the best for that person and their situation.
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