Behold, the rise of the digital nomad, the dawn of the New Age Beats.
Strangled by corporate thiefdom, sickened by celebrity worship, entranced by Eastern Culture that preaches the opposite of everything we know, they are the ones who give it all up and take the big leap.
They quit their jobs, sell their cars, terminate their leases and move, like ancient drifting wanderers, to the farthest corners of the earth.
This is bigger than a vacation and more permanent than a sabbatical. It’s akin to a life overhaul, something like a spiritual awakening.
And, let’s be clear: These aren’t just the people taking off to Bali or New Zealand. This is the modern-day fugue that has 200,000 people ready to permanently move to Mars.
It’s a phenomenon of which the defining feature isn’t geographic escape, but escape, period.
And, this is an article about holding your horses.
Below are a few reasons not to escape. Some are obvious, some are not. Some are lofty; some are boring.
In some ways, they’re about reality; in others, they're about maturation. In many ways, it’s about knowing where you’re from and what that means.
It’s about creating versus escaping.
So, before you give everything to the chickens, hear me out:
1. Real digital nomads actually work.
Living on the road with your MacBook still costs money (new headphones for when yours get clogged with sand, for instance).
And, the only way to make money is to work for it, even illegal money making takes work, arguably much more (see: "Breaking Bad").
Some will opt to bartend, wait tables, rent bikes or some other side job to keep the dream afloat, and are totally fine with the simple lifestyle this affords.
But, most continue to work, mostly to afford the latest MacBook.
Whether they join one of the countless co-ops that have sprung up across Southeast Asia, or cozy up in an Internet café, they’re still hard at work at their day jobs.
The beach is still an office. A spreadsheet with a Mai Tai is still a spreadsheet.
2. A sabbatical without a plan is just an extended Spring Break.
Much of today’s hype to pick up and hit the road can be traced back to a single 2009 TED talk by Stefan Sagmeister, a brilliant, rebellious designer.
Stefan closes up his design shop for a full year after every seven to creatively recharge.
The key here is this is not a year-long vacation. He’s not finding inspiration in Barcelona beach clubs.
If you listen to his talk, Stefan schedules every minute of his day. He even has a part of the morning set aside to contemplate his existence.
Sabbaticals have a purpose. The best ones are intricately planned. In other words, a sabbatical is work by different means.
3. You’re young.
Being young is a reason to travel the world. You don’t have a family or any tremendous obligations.
You gain experience and develop a worldly point of view.
But, youth is also when our lives begin. While our jobs (and paychecks) may not be the biggest, our potential is huge. Our energy, when directed, is boundless.
You don’t need to “become worldly” before you get down to fixing the world. You can start that right now and learn along the way.
4. Exploration is more than geographical. It’s creative.
Exploration may be built into human DNA, but you don’t need to be Magellan or Neil Armstrong to explore. Exploration means more than just exploring places.
Exploration is a form of creation. And, it wasn’t the need to find what lay outside the cave that drove Neanderthals to become the first explorers, but rather, the need to create a life beyond the cave.
Creation is the greatest human endeavor. It gets a bad rap due to its root word, “create,” and that nasty little word creativity.
People are led to believe they can’t create because they aren’t creative. But, there’s a secret about creativity: It’s made up.
While we are not all creative types who paint, write poetry or compose music, we all create every day. Some of us cook meals.
Some train our bodies. Some build strong families. These are all acts of creation. Creation happens when the world derives value from our actions.
You don’t need to go anywhere to create. You certainly don’t need to explore some unknown place.
Sometimes, exploring the things you create leads to discoveries you could have never previously imagined.
5. Some of the most important things in the world happen in the places we’re from.
The world is full of problems, but so is home.
We have our helping of income inequality, poverty, education gaps, gun violence and the multitude of local problems mayors, clergy people and social workers can fill you in on.
Zoom in further from a societal perspective to a community perspective: the inner city elementary schools that need great teachers, the neighborhoods that need community organizers and brave city counselors.
Zoom in further to your own family: Some siblings need guidance; some parents need care.
In our globalized world, we see every problem and hear about every disaster.
They can have a belittling effect on the importance of our own lives and problems.
They can make our first-world culture seem vapid and empty; our American lives one big capitalist crock.
It’s a shame to feel that way about your home. It’s disappointing to be driven away by an illusion.
Sometimes, the biggest thing we can do in the world is the smallest. Sometimes, it’s in our backyard.
6. Purpose isn’t something you find. It’s something you make.
And, as long as we’re talking about changing the world, let’s talk about that all-defining word: purpose.
It’s often said that you need to find your purpose. So, why does everyone still seem to be looking?
You won't stumble across your purpose. It’s true: Some people don’t feel they’re living with purpose until they witness the plight of the extreme poor or are made aware of a dehumanizing situation.
But, purpose isn’t a derivative of awareness. If we feel something is our purpose, we must act on it.
We must make that cause, person, job or thing our purpose.
Purpose is another act of creation. It’s another form of work — the hardest work you’ll ever do.
And, it's the most rewarding.
7. You only have one life.
This is the ultimate excuse to wander, the primal reason to escape.
“You only have one life. What are you going to do with it?” Good question.
In a way, it’s the ultimate question, the one many people spend in college bars avoiding and in thankless cubicles hiding from.
It’s the kind of question that makes you think about living out of a yurt to get your circadian rhythms back in line with the orbit of the moon.
And, it’s the kind of question that can provide perspective. Are our homes so ugly, our careers so unfulfilling, our lives so dull, our spirits so empty, that we’d give it all up?
Is the content of our hearts dictated by the coordinates of a Google Map? Is creation of our crafts and of ourselves only possible miles and miles from home?
I don’t think so.
This isn’t a call to never take a vacation or sabbatical. I’m certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t see the world.
This is for all the people who find themselves in the place they call home, tethered to a life they can only dream of escaping, looking for purpose a thousand miles away and ignoring the ones below their noses.
If you are one of those people, escape! Do this by changing, growing, creating and by making a purpose. Foam over with your passion. Do it here; do it now.
When we’ve done that, we’ll find we’ve opened the world up to ourselves.