Nomadic Life Vs Settled Life

What Is A Nomad?


A nomad moves breezily, and is in a constant state of transition. What defines a nomad is not so much their physical movement but their sense of improvisation — the spirit of change that imbues them. This means that a nomad — whether by that we mean a wandering tribe, a traveling musician, a modern nomadic online worker, or some other kind of nomad — is just the type of person or group that gives up roots for shoots, stability for freedom and change, and consistency for movement and a sense of always becoming something different.


What is a nomad? A nomad is one who lives in a state of transience, whatever that means and however that is defined. There are old styles of nomadic life that amounted to making your physical home a space of movement and change — going to where the crops could grow, where the animals could be hunted, where the audience was for your art, or where the train was already heading anyway. Those style of nomadic life are still around, but they are fading. That doesn’t, however, mean that we are all forced to live lived of settlement. A settled life is the one that most people choose, but it is possible, even in a modernized world, to be a nomad. Post-industrial life has brought with it a digital space for nomads to live and do their work, and it mean that people who choose to can elide the usual way of things, either moving from place to place or staying put but forging a life of transience and movement in some other way. These are the nomads of the 21st century, and they are many. Their numbers are only swelling as online marketplaces and virtual footprints come to dominate the economy.


Nomadic Life Vs Settled Life


There are two ways of living in a modern society. One of them is mainstream and the other is somewhat at the margins, but both are legitimate, and both will afford you the benefits of the life that you want to lead. The first is settled living. The settler works hard to find a space for themselves in the economic and social spaces of their society, and once they find that space they stay put. They seek consistency and security and generally adhere to more traditional values. The second way of living is nomadic living. Nomadic living is all about transience and movement, and it avoids the stability of settled live, trading secure for a life of creativity, expression, freedom, and flexibility. This sort of life is generally associated with people whose values are less traditional than the mainstream, although that is far from universal.


Freedom Vs Security


When somebody becomes a nomad, they are making a trade. The trade is one of emotional and economic stability. What you give up is security — the security of a job that will never, likely, go away, of a 401k, of a health plan, and of the same regular pay each month. But what you gain by giving up that security is freedom. The freedom to work how you want, when you want, where you want, and on what you want. The freedom to choose who you work with and for, and the freedom to be your own employer. To not, in the end, answer to anyone except yourself. This is a freedom that many are discovering in the digital age, particularly young people, and it is beginning to replace the ordinary course of job finding post-college for a lot of people, especially those who studied artistic and humanistic disciplines in school. It is even coming to replace university-level employment for a lot of would-be scholars and professors.


What Are The Virtues Of A Settled Life?


The virtues of a settled life are many, and they are self-evident to most people. They aren’t the sorts things many people think consciously about, but rather are deeply ingrained in traditional values. These include financial stability, the promotion of routine, comfort, proximity to your friends, and physical permanence (having a home to go to every night, the same home you have had for years and the same home you will have for years to come). Being settled in your living space means having the chance to cultivate it slowly and make it what you want it to be. This is a way of planting roots, and it goes along with having a secure group of friends, colleagues, coworkers, and family that is both dear and near to you. These people will support you, and along with your stable job and your stable home, will form your system of regularity and support, which is something most people feel they need (if they are thinking explicitly about these issues at all).


What Are The Pains Of A Settled Life?


However, there are pains in a settled life. You are tied down, restrained, and routinized. You can come to feel stuck in a life of rote desperation. You feel held down by your employers, your social stratum, your government, and even by the people you hold dear. These feelings often make up what we call mid-life crises, but they are not exclusive to the middle of one’s life.


Living Nomadic


A nomadic life is in part defined by being the escape from all of those things that make a settled life settled and by affirming a new sort of life — one of creativity, movement, and freedom. The virtues of this are obvious: you can do more of what you want when you want to and where you want to, and you answer to nothing but your own fate. This is not a life for everyone, but it also doesn’t have to oppose all of the things you once thought you wanted. You can, for instance, have a nomadic job and still decide to stay in one place. You can also, even if you move often, own property and start a family. The new nomad is not opposed to these things, they are only opposed to the routinization of life.

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