Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

F is for Freedom

Day 6 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

Freedom! This big word and all-encompassing description of the nomad life is what attracts me to it the most. Freedom might mean something different to other people. I see it as being able to (mostly) do what I want and what I like, to choose the way I live without too many restrictions. I feel free to roam about, explore different countries, travel across oceans, try out different lifestyles, expand my horizons, and focus on what I deem important or interesting. In a way the small budget allows for it, of course.

The freedom to roam, in Barbuda

The freedom to roam, in Barbuda

America has always been “the land of the free”. For starters, I think they mean the United States instead of America. (I don’t think Donald Trump is intending to make the whole continent “great” again.) Secondly, with “the land of the free” I assume they refer to back in the day, when everybody was freely allowed to start a new life in the US, a life free of colonization, a life with rights and personal freedoms in a country that offered a lot of opportunities.

These days, some call the US “the land of the no”. It is a sensation I had when first driving into the States after a year in Central America, or flying back from time spent abroad. Everywhere I looked I saw “no” signs: “No parking”, “No loitering”, “No cameras”, “No smoking”, “No dogs”. For good or for bad (mostly for good, I admit), western countries have a lot of rules and regulations. They are necessary and they increase, because the general consensus of “common sense”, “being sensible and considerate”, “showing responsible behavior” and “displaying kindness” have changed. Unfortunately. But, I am getting off topic now. Compared to many other countries on earth, we who live in first world nations have a lot of freedom. The main reason? Because we were fortunate enough to have been born here.

As free as a bird

Free as a bird

There are so many choices and the possibilities are endless. It is the beauty and the pitfall of modern society: we are free to choose our paths, but the effect on our senses can be overwhelming. Most people are happy with their sedentary lives and the freedom to plan a successful future for themselves and their family, to be part of a thriving community and to stick to a comfortable routine, doing what they want or hope to achieve within their means. As a nomad, those roots are restrictive. While enjoyable and tempting, they are limiting. They hold us back from setting out into the world. We desire more. We want to explore beyond our comfort zone. We want to travel. We want to experience new things. We want to be really free from responsibilities taken for granted and escape strict rules and regulations.  We strive to make up our own minds and our own destinations.  And thrive, because of it. To this nomad, freedom means independence on a personal, small scale level, in a big scale territory!

Mark and I on top of the world in gorgeous Maupiti

Mark and I on top of the world in gorgeous Maupiti

What does freedom mean to you? Do you feel free the way you live your life? How can your freedom be improved?

(I have previously written thoughts about being a nomad, starting with the letters A,B,C,D and E. Tomorrow, it is time for “G is for Getting Around”.)

16 Comments

  1. As with many abstract ideas, the definition of freedom is completely subjective. Beauty, truth, freedom- these things are relative to the point of almost being impossible to understand. That said, these are important ideas and are core values for many people.

    The freedom to go where I want is important to me. I also like being able to think, write, say what I want. I like being free to choose what I put on my plate to eat (something too much of the world doesn’t get to do).

    I could improve my ability to travel by uncluttering my life, less things=more freedom to go and do. As for the others, I think appreciating them more would make them more fulfilling.

    • Freedom can be improved by reducing the amount of stuff and clutter in your life. But, for some people, that might mean losing the freedom to have all these belongings and enjoy them. Yes, freedom is subjective, for sure, and since we are all unique in our own ways, so is our kind of freedom. Another downfall of this society is that we take everything for granted, our comfort and luxury, the fact that we can choose what we eat. Appreciation and realization would, indeed, make these things more fulfilling!

  2. I feel a lot freer now that I’m working for myself again. I can hardly wait until we move to our island and begin the next stage of our adventures!

    • Your move to Thailand will be so exciting! It will open up a wealth of possibilities and the fact that you work for yourself is what makes this move possible. Being a freelancer myself, I don’t know whether I could ever go back to a “normal” job. The freedom of working for yourself, of being a FREElancer… I hadn’t even thought of that!

  3. Freedom is an interesting topic. I truly believe it is easier to “live the American dream” of working hard and making a life for yourself in America. However, I often feel that we in America experience less thought freedom- don’t think that, don’t say that, etc.
    On another note, not carting around insane amounts of stuff, moving away from a restrictive 9-5 job and all the trappings of it, and getting to be me are things I am really looking forward to when we set off cruising next month!

    • Lucy, you will move from one kind of freedom to another. And, after cruising for a while with less “baggage” (literally and figuratively), you will be able to make up your mind about what you prefer! What the most enjoyable lifestyle is and what the easiest is. Those two might not be the same! 🙂 The social pressure in western countries make us doubt ourselves and therefore take away some of our feeling of freedom…

  4. I wonder if some people think true freedom is not having any responsibility. But I think the more responsibility we give up, the more we become slave to whomever we gave that responsibility to.

    (You can scold my bad grammar later. 🙂 )

    • I think that some responsibility is needed for our sanity and self-worth. Totally being free could mean not having to care about anything, but, for some reason, that doesn’t feel right either. I guess there is a balance for everything, even when it comes to freedom! 🙂 (Which bad grammar? :-))

  5. I agree, a lot of people will define freedom in so many different ways. Looks very freeing where you are at; beautiful view!

    For me, freedom is being able to live in an area with not a lot of restrictions, laws of course are necessary, but being able to be expressive and not governed by excessive rules and regulations. For instance, we recently rented a house in a Homeowner’s Association (long story why we chose to, wouldn’t have been our first choice) but they had so many restrictions, certain plants, no outside lights on at night, etc., that we didn’t have freedom there, know what I mean? We finished our lease with them and then move don.

    betty

    • I totally know what you mean, Betty, and I am glad you could move on from this association. I learned a lot about rules and regulations for home owners here in the US, when friends and extended family told me about their property, yard, etc. Something that I often think about in that regard is that in Belgium, most families are allowed to keep chickens in their yard. Here in the US, my husband – and everyone else I tell this fact – laughs out loud and shakes his head at the absurdity of it! 🙂 Luckily, we have a choice as to where we rent and where we live, and the less rules, the better! 🙂

  6. I agree with you, Liesbet. I feel most free when I’m travelling. It’s not that I dislike home but I feel hemmed in by obligations and responsibilities, both work and social in nature. All that just fades away when I’m travelling – I feel more like myself at that time than at any other, and if that isn’t freedom I don’t know what is.

    • It is such a great realization that you experience that freedom during travels. Have you ever thought of going long-term? It is nice that you can let go of the obligations at home, while away… Mark and I are pretty stressed people (believe it or not) and running our own business, ironically, does not let us go on real vacations. He and I haven’t had a holiday for over ten years (which is ever, since being together), not even a honeymoon! I felt the most free when I was backpacking around SE Asia by myself one year.

      • I have thought about going long term, most definitely. The problem (as always) is saving up sufficient funds to do that … if I were going to travel for a year, to experience that sense of freedom, I wouldn’t want to have to work along the way. So, I’d be looking at having to save enough to travel extensively for a year and because of the lifestyle choices I’ve made (I work freelance), I can’t see me being able to do that. But you never know what the future holds – I’m open to the possibilities! In the meantime I’ll stick with a couple of months a year 🙂

        • A couple of months a year of travel (without work distractions) is awesome! I agree to really enjoy extensive travel, you want to not have to work (like us). But, if you plan on backpacking in SE Asia for a year, for example, you could probably do that on less than $10,000. Especially when combining it with house sitting. 🙂 Back when I did this in 2000-2001, I spent less than $400 a month and had good fun.

          • A couple of months a year has been working really well. At my age, I don’t think I’d be up for backpacking and hostels for a year. I like my independent travel, I like to move to a new place every few days … I’d need to think about the logistics and countries I’d want to see too. It’s the traveller’s curse, isn’t it? Wanting to do it all 🙂

            • Such a curse! 🙂 Such an addiction. Luckily healthier than other addictions, but a quite pricey one if done in style… 🙂 I hear you about the backpacking. Not for me anymore either (I think). Get a camper!! 🙂

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