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Need to Nomad Blog

Great Explorations

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I scan the vast ocean through squinting eyes, a teardrop forming in reaction to the warm salty breeze.   Lengthy bangs swirl against my cheeks like little brown whips which I brush aside without a thought.  Astride the death-defying cliffs of Sagres at the southwestern tip of Portugal, fishermen sit on sheer cliffs below me, balancing upon narrow ledges.  In such an Old World country it’s easy to imagine each generation passing this tradition along. Do families have squatters rights to particular ledges, I wonder? That would make sense, like the lobstermen off the coast of Maine who establish “buoy rights” that pass down the family line.  Has anyone ever fallen? Perhaps that is the purpose of the colorful little boat anchored below, with its pristine white hull topped with a rich turquoise interior punctuated by bright pink and blue stripes. The matching turquoise and pink oars are a nice touch.  

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How magnificent to stand upon a site that Henry the Navigator himself once occupied.  Speculation has it that here he built a school for navigators and map-makers.  Standing within the confines of the old fortress, I see what is described as a massive compass rose, a circular formation of pebbles and markers alongside what appears to be a stone sundial. Across the narrow neck of the peninsula stands Nossa Senhora da Graça, a whitewashed chapel dating back to 1579, and in fact is a replacement for a previous church built in 1459. 

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Further out, across a rocky field near the tip of the peninsula is a solitary lighthouse.  Walking along the pavement toward the beacon, we are almost completely encircled by water but for the small strip of land leading back to the fort.  Reaching the very end, no land is visible in my field of vision, as even my peripheral fields are filled with endless azure waves and sky. I step back as the surreal blues blend together, lest I allow the intoxicating sense of free fall to overcome my sensibilities.  


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My mind ponders the world of the 1400’s, when an individuals’ universe equaled the reality they could see and touch coupled with the concept of an otherwordly heaven or hell.  Contemporary ideas of our universe are vast and endless.  Did the ocean seem as vast and endless to Henry the Navigator as the stars, planets and solar systems seem to us today?  Aside from incentives and favors from the throne, what motivated such men to venture beyond the known universe of the times?  Was it an inexplicable wanderlust? A desire to flee known circumstances that seemed more hostile than the treachery of unknown destinations?

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Wanderlust can lead to many adventures and tragedies in our world today. The euphemism “itchy feet” describes the discomfort perfectly, demanding immediate attention and remedy with an urgency that can not be ignored.  Accepting and taming this urge without squelching it entirely is the essence of what this blog explores.  Our society is on an ever increasingly fragmented journey where opportunities bombard and entice us. How do we maintain our values and sense of meaning and balance, how do we hold on to a solid foundation while nurturing our very potent “need to nomad” in a world of ever expanding possibilities? By being intentional in the choices we make and staying true to our values. Seek adventure and we will likely find it.  Follow our curiosity and an abundance of energy will flow. 

I came by it honestly …

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Something magnificent happened on my way to adulthood. The military happened, more specifically the United States Air Force. Each time Dad received his military orders, we moved where ever those orders dictated. It was exhilarating! From 1963 to 1977 we set down temporary roots in Maine, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, back to Utah, New York, Florida and Texas. What an adventure, traveling in the old station wagon cross country to a new house, new friends, new schools every couple of years. The camaraderie of my siblings sustained me through each journey.  Along the way my wanderlust blossomed, and I relish the joy it has brought to my life. 


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The perpetual motion of my first fourteen years provides a sharp juxatoposition to the next fourteen years deeply rooted in the heart of Fort Worth, Texas.  These years see me through four years of high school as a Southwest Rebel; four years as a Horned Frog at Texas Christian University; three years of graduate school at the University of Texas at Arlington; marriage and divorce. With these formative experiences behind me, in 1991 I uproot to San Diego, California. Amounting to a two year working vacation, this satiates my nomadic desires for a short while.  I find meaningful work, sunshine, and marry my best friend, Alan. Despite the deceptive perfection of the Pacific Coast sunshine, in 1993 California is imploding around us with earthquakes, floods, mudslides, widespread fires, and riots in LA. Prompted by this insanity, I decide to pursue a long-held dream to live in my home state of Maine.  


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So I find myself in 1993 packing our belongings for a West Coast to East Coast move, and am awestruck by the realization that my entire life has been spent in preparation for this monumental task.  No longer an amateur, I have become a seasoned transient, an active seeker of adventure, a warrior in the fight to obliterate stagnation and boredom. With my wanderlust fully engaged, we depart for Maine … magnificent Maine. Mention Maine to others, and you'll see gleaming eyes as these rusticators recall their youthful visits filled with memories of summer camps, visits to grandparents, lobster bakes, and blueberry pie. 


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All true, all magnificent. Yet for me this magnificence is counterbalanced  by the reality of twenty years spent snow shoveling and swatting at mosquitos large enough to carry off small dogs. While I love my home state, it is indeed time to move on. Where to next? The promised land of Arizona, and of course this will be the topic of a future blog.  I hope my blog inspires you. Whether your nomadic travels are physical or existential, I hope you will explore where your own Nomad wants to take you. The need to nomad is about choices we make based on our own curiosity, and can catalyze hidden energy waiting to be tapped.  It’s amazing what we accomplish when determination, energy, and a solid dose of curiosity come together to enrich our lives.


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