Soul of a Nomad


I wonder what it is that makes me happiest when I’m wandering from place to place.

The flow of the road or the waves or the tracks brings a sometimes ecstatic joy to my heart, which rises in a soaring movement in my chest that is an expression of pure joy.

The view through my car window of a familiar and unfamiliar landscape: sunshine on brilliant green foreground hills against a backdrop of thunderous sky; light through autumn leaves in a glowing, glorious display of colour; the sparkle of sunshine off water; the shifting pattern of cloud as the road worships a rising moon; the glimpse of a long snaking train as we round a curving bend, the transient view of the engine like the promise of infinity – all these things combine into one truth: that all that matters is that the view keeps shifting, keeps changing.

It is the constant change, the truth of now and the unknowability of the future that makes me feel so at home in the journey.

This week I’ve stopped and taken rest with some wonderful old friends. This, too, is part of the shifting view. I love to connect and reconnect, to ask the questions that only seem to get asked within a limited time-frame – the bigger questions of health and happiness and life.

The potential frictions of people living together are suspended when the visit is closely finite; an impertinent question brings a moment of surprise, the head of the person questioned pulling back a fraction; then comes the moment of magic: the eyes shift focus to a point not in the room; there is a pause of sacred anticipation, and then the answer comes, fresh, true, honest, enlightening. Reality may change or not from that moment, but somehow, their hearts and mine are touched and altered by the space of honesty and truth that is outside our normal, everyday experience.

For me, the epic journey requires being at the level of land or sea – it cannot be made by air. Perhaps it requires the physical connection the the medium of travel: up and down with waves or landscape. Perhaps it is that our eyes have evolved to make sense through a horizontal view, that looking down on something makes it unreal, unrelated to ourselves and our lives.

I recall the two great Australian train journeys I have made, one with each of my children at the sacred age of twelve: the Indian Pacific with my son, Perth to Sydney and with my daughter, the Ghan, Adelaide to Darwin, with a side trip to the nowhere-ness and everywhere-ness of Uluru.

I still have the sense with me of endless desert, not empty as I expected, but always dotted with scrubby trees, points of curious interest on which to momentarily rest my eyes  before the train whisks me on to the next view; that magical pattern allows me to be in two places, two worlds, on two planes at once, with the rich added dimension of the spirit of my children accompanying me. I am here on earth, and I am floating in the world of my imagination, free and connected simultaneously.

I look at my business card now and see it gives no location: there is no physical address, no country-based phone number; it is a virtual homing beacon, with web address, email address, Skype ID. With this I can be found and not found anywhere in the world. For the person wanting to connect, it doesn’t matter where I am, or rather, there is the illusion I am always in the same place… which I suppose, given that my heart is my home, is the truth.

My heart, in connection with the hearts of others: that’s home.

2 thoughts on “Soul of a Nomad

  1. Thanks for this Jennifer. I pulled John Kehoes’ ‘A Vision of Power and Glory’ of the shelf the other day and re-read it. I have not read all his books but I do enjoy this one because of its poetic feel and orientation to spirituality—a feel and orientation similar to the one you capture in this blog. I’m sure you will enjoy this passage from the book: ‘I celebrate this day, this moment. Needing nothing. Wanting nothing. Everything is contained within myself this very second. Where should I be but here? Who should I be but myself? What time is better than this which is bursting forth in front of me?’

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