What is it like to become nomads later in life (I’m in my sixties, Don’s in his seventies), to sell/give away almost all your worldly goods and then just wander the world? The This nomadic Life series will be stories of the inner journeying, and all we want to share that’s not about where we are so much as about how we’re feeling, and how we’re dealing, with being nomads.

31 December 2012: Travel Sickness
Last night at dinner I became aware of a brief feeling/thought (not even words really) along the lines of “I’m sick of all this travel”. OK . . . .um, I’d better examine this a little deeper because all this travel is not going to end any time soon. We have no home to go home to. And anyway it wasn’t about not having a home so much as it was about being sick of travelling.

So I talked to Don about it. I find it infinitely helpful to put stuff on “external speaker”. There’s nothing like hearing the words out loud to really get what the mind is doing, what stories it is making up. And Don is an excellent listener. It’s one of the things we’ve developed over the years, and one of the things I believe to be essential for, and one of the hallmarks of, a successful relationship – listening. We listen to each other. Sometimes it takes actually saying “pay attention to me now” or “I need you to listen”, but after many years we have learned the priceless value of it and so we do.

As I went into it deeper I realized my being sick of travelling was more to do with a kind of discontent with Bangkok. Bangkok has been in the international/big business/tourist eye for so long it has become an international cosmopolitan city. Much like any western city. It has its own Thai flavor, but even that is wearing pretty thin. We saw some beautiful temples, and a khlong here and there, but mostly it’s like any big city in the west. Admittedly we didn’t have the mad enthusiasm for exploration here that we had in Delhi for instance. Still, I think it’s harder to find Thailand here in Bangkok than it is to find India in Delhi. Delhi in all its glorious colour and crowded craziness and garbage everywhere screams India! Bangkok is far more civilized, clean and reserved. Also I was aware that one of the obvious differences is that in India most people still wear traditional clothing, which in itself is exotic for me, whereas in Bangkok everyone is in western dress. So . . . . .

This led me to examine what it is about travel that I’m wanting. And it’s clear. I’m stimulated, inspired, excited, sometimes beyond words, and filled with joy, with the new, the different, the exotic. I’m fascinated and somehow nourished by seeing and maybe occasionally sometimes briefly experiencing, the myriad different ways in which people do life. I’m amazed by the infinite number of ways in which people make life work. It fills me with a kind of joy. And Bangkok was just not doing it for me. The mind was craving more of the excitement of India, and poor old Bangkok got the blame, and the mind translated it to mean I’m sick of travelling.

Having gotten it all out in the open I could rest in presence, enjoy the sheer luxury of my surroundings where we were having dinner, enjoy Don, enjoy what is, instead of making up some story of discontent about what isn’t. It also leads me to be more restful about the next places we will visit. This craving for excitement is the mind seeking stimulation and “food”, and finding discontent when it doesn’t get it. In acceptance and presence, there’s just what is, as it is, and a wonderful openness that allows for a deeper experience.

Photo of the day: Phnom Penh. New Year’s Eve. Traffic was gridlocked down by the river. Everyone was out on the town!


All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.