One of the greatest challenges for gobal nomads is finding community.
Connecting with others is difficult for the nomad because not everyone understands his life. Finding kindred spirits takes more effort and probably isn’t the person living next door.
Another factor is the taste of community that the nomad has already experienced. He’s trying to replicate that in another context and finds it doesn’t work.
There’s also the matter of personal identity. With which culture does he most identify? Where’s his tribe? If he’s a fish out of water, where can he find some water?
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There are three ways to face this challenge.
1. Embrace Imperfect Communities Right Where You Are
Geography is a critical factor.
It’s natural to cling to a community that grew in another part of the world. With Sykpe, Facebook, What’s App and internet phones it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with people all over the planet.
Technology is amazing, except when it keeps you from connecting to people where you actually live.
The community that you plug into in the new place will not measure up. Push yourself to do it anyway.
2. Re-connect With Former Tribes
Reunions are important.
When you’ve logged a significant portion of your life with a tribe, it’s good to re-connect and catch up.
Last week, we went to the funeral of a mentor from a decade ago. We shared a meal with former colleagues. Because our lives intertwined so closely with these people in the past, years of separation melted away.
The same thing happened at a wedding in May.
Doing life with these people has marked us indelibly.
We need to touch base or we lose a part of who we are.
3. Create Your Own Culture
Establish traditions, celebrate holidays, eat the ethnic foods.
Marry someone who sees the value in preserving observances and ritual.
Create a family culture that incorporates world cultures.
Influence churches, clubs and schools to reflect values and traditions you want to perpetuate.
Of course, these efforts are fluid. They will only last for a season if someone else doesn’t pick them up and carry them on.
But, the encouraging fact remains that the nomad isn’t doomed to a lifelong search for community: he can create it.
The best book I’ve read this year about globe-trotting and the search for belonging is Tsh Oxenreider’s book At Home in the World. Tsh and her husband took with their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.