BY ALANNAH JEWEL
Over ten years I’ve been blessed to find myself wandering to 11 countries for missions, internships, leadership school, and, occasionally, the need to simply get out and expand my world perspective. People ask, “What is it like going, traveling, wondering, and being like a modern day nomad?”
The questions frequently arise in passing moments with barely enough time for a surface response. Other times it’s around a table at dinner with friends, then I share how deep it really goes. This is what I say:
It is amazing beyond my wildest expectations.
It is phenomenal to experience the cultures.
It is fun. The kind of fun that changes you and makes you dream bigger.
It is more beautiful than I can put into words.
Yet even with all the beauty, it is the invisible things that change me.
It is squatting in an airport for 24 hours.
It is trying to give my body some sense of normality in the midst of confusion.
It is traveling by tuk-tuk, train, car, truck, bike, foot, motorcycle, boat, bullet train, uber, taxi, bus, tram, and other means.
It is learning to balance four bank accounts.
It is navigating six currencies.
It is juggling three SIM cards and phone plans on two continents.
It is balancing four ID’s and multiple copies of important documents.
It is knowing who I am (literally from my limits to my SSN).
It is knowing how to run my life thousands of miles away from my country of citizenship.
It is sleeping in toilet stalls.
It is learning to be okay with unpredictability.
It is having a North American sunset melt into an Icelandic sunrise.
It is learning to survive when I am uncomfortable and embrace when I am comfortable.
It is loving others through cultural differences.
It is saying goodbyes that never get easier.
It is missing weddings, birthdays, graduations and births.
It is celebrating my favorite holiday without my family.
It is choking back tears on phone calls home.
It is waking up with a drop in my heart because I forgot home is far away now.
It is always feeling like you’ve forgotten something but being comfortable with the feeling.
It is having an insanely amazing support system that pushes me forward.
It is sometimes inspiring.
It is sometimes heartbreaking.
It is being blessed beyond measure and stretched beyond belief.
That’s what it is like. That is the modern nomad life.
I live it.
You live it.
The invisible side has ugly, dirty, painful moments we don’t share on social media. The invisible challenge is also the homesickness pictures can’t capture.
It’s never feeling at home anywhere anymore - but you know what?
It’s also being more like the rest of the world than anyone would ever know. When I say you live the nomad life, I mean it. Maybe you aren’t traveling the globe, but you’re traveling your journey.
If you ask google what a nomad is it will say, “a member of a people having no permanent abode, who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.”
I don’t know what your livestock is.
I don’t know what you are trying to grow in your life.
I don’t know if it is a family, a career, or your spiritual life.
I do know that every single person is tending, feeding, and caring for ground. Maybe you’re planting seeds that bloom over a season; maybe you are planting trees that will take generations to provide shade - regardless, you are working. Traveling on a journey to find the greenest and most abundant land for the things you are growing in your world. The modern-day wandering nomad travels to find an adventure and grow their inner self. I encountered invisible challenges which pulled my heart closer to certain things.
I don’t know where this finds you - but I just want to ask you to do one thing:
Stop and touch the blessings you haven’t touched in a while.
You’re feeding your livestock, working so hard to grow and birth the dreams you have - but the world hasn’t stopped. When’s the last time you took a break from your livestock and spent some time with the people who bought you your first cow? When have you taken time to help your neighbor tend their livestock?
It might be a corny metaphor, but I hope it resonates with your working and wandering heart. After I returned from several years of being on the go, my heart began to take rest in one desire: It wanted to take the time to embrace the things that wouldn’t beg to be embraced but are so worthy of my heart’s attention.
Keep wandering to grow your livestock.
Keep growing from the invisible pain.
Keep saying yes to the journey.
And today, take some time to love on the things that fueled your journey from the beginning.
The things that we are unconsciously missing out on.
Pull those things that are usually invisible and bring them into the light of your heart - soak it all in.
See you when our livestock grazes together,