Living a nomadic life forces you to confront ugly truths about yourself, about society, and your place in the larger world. As a nomad, your community both broadens and shrinks. Contact with any kind of comfort zone becomes fleeting. New friends replace old. They, in turn, are often swept away by the miles.
But you also become a unique part of the bigger picture. You experience other people’s existence in an almost voyeuristic sense. A perpetual outsider with a perspective available only to one whose mind dwells on the broader ramifications without having time to get mired in the finer details.
In many ways, that’s exactly where I thrive.
This doesn’t mean my understanding of the broader picture has always been “right”. Back in Texas when I lived in a McMansion, I thought then I lived the “right” way.
I kept up my yard. Kept my family fed. Recycled. Sure, a thousand square feet for each person in my household felt overkill, but everything in Texas was bigger. We embodied the American Dream.
The longer the dream wore on, the more I wondered if it was real.
The 2008 market crash became the first nudge. Yes, the economy recovered, but my distrust lingered. Few of the instigators were brought to heel. Many were deemed worthy of government handouts. “Too big to fail” entered our lexicon.
Over the decade since, we’ve seen little true change. More money consolidates as the “too big” perpetually fail upward. Public funds still get diverted to bailing them out. Meanwhile, the little communities where I now spend most of my time are left to wither. If you haven’t been worthy of being bought by the giants, a presumably legitimate business goal, then you deserve to go the way of the dodo.
“Small” is a bad word.
Being a nomad though, I’ve come to find the value of being small. I’ve come to intimately understand and appreciate the resources I use and the scarcity of them. By several calculators, I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by half. Full off-grid living teaches extreme frugality down to the gallons of water and amps of electricity used. It undoes the excesses we’ve been taught by society to worship.
This morning, I saw an article praising a dozen billionaires for joining Bill Gates in his pledge to give away their wealth. Here, in the twilight of their lives, a final admission they never needed it in the first place.
We’re supposed to applaud.
How many businesses were bought out or driven under as these billionaires pursued their monopolies? How much wealth could’ve been spread among the people? Couldn’t we have already ended hunger, water scarcity, sanitation issues, colonized Mars decades earlier had we not been hyper-focused on concentrating the world’s wealth and resources into the hands of the few?
Wasn’t the damage we must now reverse caused by their mindset?
I watched a documentary about Bill Gates where he was heading up efforts to improve sanitation in third world countries. He wants to bring them high-tech toilets so they stop dying of dysentery.
Nowhere is there acknowledgment that the subjugation of these countries to the whims of developed nations was prime mover for the situations endured. Once colonies, they became backwater sweatshops after the cheap labor of slavery was abolished. They live in the sewage of our excess, never given their fair share.
A functioning free market could have solved many of these problems. A functioning government could’ve done the same. Had these corporations focused on paying their fair share of taxes instead of lobbyists and influence peddlers who covered up their abuses and held up their monopolies, perhaps our system wouldn’t be so dysfunctional.
Admittedly, the argument that the private sector can more efficiently bring about change has my sympathy. Governments are slow and ponderous and wasteful.
But they are elected bodies.
Should we simply have to hope Bill Gates and his billionaire boy’s club has our best interests at heart? Nobody voted for them, entrusted them with our money, it was all given in many ways without our understanding or consent. They own our future, these champions of consumerism with their vast, unthinkable hoards.
And I, we, helped make that happen.
Well, I’m done. I’m slowly cutting ties. And it feels good. Feels like a waking dream I should’ve had a long time ago.