Sunday, 19 January 2014

Born to run (or at least wander)?

Most of us, those who have the 'luxury' to do so that is, experience times when we question the direction our life is going in. Are we doing the right thing? In the right place? With the right people?

The majestic Andes -- they would make any person want to travel.
Always out of reach?
These have been things very much on our mind of late. Much of this is down to the fact that we have that aforementioned 'luxury' to ponder about them. In other words, owing to our rather simple, independent lifestyle over the last number of years, we've managed to live relatively cheap and keep a little balance of cash in reserve. Enough that is to make us feel like we can take the time to discover something in life that we find truly enjoyable/fulfilling, yet not enough, contradictory as it may seem, to allow us take some risks that may provide the key to the former.

One of the things we've discovered we like doing, at this stage of our life in any case, is moving; seeing new places, exploring, observing how people live in different locations. The reality is that since 2008 this is how, more or less, our life has been.

We even put the 20 months we spent working full-time in Belfast into this category. This was because the city was new to us, somewhat different from the places in Ireland we were used to, with that novelty taking some time to wear off. Also, as our job was poorly paid, trying to put money aside was a challenge, something that we took on with gusto in many ways (well we had no other choice). Despite that, and another reason our Belfast period can go onto the 'adventure' list, we went overseas for holidays on a number of occasions during our stint there – as many times (and for longer) than our 23 years pre-2008.

So it seems our first global adventure between 2008 and 2009 released the wanderer in us. Before then, an easy-ish life in an Ireland that appeared awash with opportunities (or so we were told) coupled with decent enough full-time employment at a young age in a professional field that we generally liked, had kept this wanderlust at bay. Oh how things change. Now, especially in the absence of a fulfilling, full-time, well-paid job (if there is such a thing for us), there exists an insatiable desire to move after a time in one place.

Yes, it is true we willingly returned to Bogotá, a place we had already lived in on-and-off for over 18 months, after a three month spell back in Ireland last year. Yet, at a loose end in our birthplace*, Bogotá still seemed an adventure and, paradoxically in a way, a place where we had built up a good number of professional contacts, somewhere we knew we could find some work, sporadic as it may be. And we were (are) slightly concerned about money – who isn't?
The outskirts of the the Sahara desert -- where we belong?
The world is our oyster

Now however, not even three months back, those wanderlust feelings have returned. Yet they are tempered by concerns for the future; our professional progression, our financial well-being. You might call it adventurism constrained my conservatism, an old head on young(ish) shoulders.

Our background has a lot to do with that; the old 'settling down' mentality and way-of-life of which most of us are products. Find a partner, build a house, start a family, and, hopefully, have a steady job. The last (and for us, the first also) of those being quite difficult to pin down these days, which makes the others more difficult to achieve (especially so here in Colombia where the conversation between money and women is very 'deep'**). That is, of course, if we wanted to 'settle' at this moment in time.

In any case, history is full of explorers and adventurers, those who shunned that 'settling down' life. It's because of such men (and the odd few women) that the world is how we know it today – for good and bad. OK, there aren't too many places left to be 'newly' discovered on this planet, in a land context anyway, but that doesn't stop the personal human desire to explore and to see new things.

So if we could just make a living out of a nomadic lifestyle that should assuage our conservative side and allow us wander (and wonder) 'worry-free'. At least for a time anyway; this might be just a phase we're going through. That fanciful million dollar contract might make us stop and think.

*For more on that somewhat 'restless' state back home see both Any which way but lose... and No country for young men.

**Our début post, Wages of love, touched on this.


  1. So wait for me and my camera and lets make some documentaries or a travel program. I'm dead serious. I can't interview and film at the same time, well, not really. We should give it a shot! Un abrazo!

    1. Hurry up and get here! Now that 'we're' blogging with El Tiempo, we might be able to get some leverage out of that...

    2. I'm doing the best I can! I'm getting more and more excited to go and do this documentary! Time doesn't fly when ur looking forward to something though... Hang in there!

  2. Thoughtful text... Thank you... Even though I'd like to settle down in terms of a job here in Colombia... After a lot of wandering and switching, I'm starting to feel tired of being a work-nomad... The questions that you make to yourself at the beginning of your post can be dangerous if you have a steady job and lose it because of some mind autosabotaging.

    Sigh... Well, keep up with the good writing. Nice blog... Totally agree with your definition on society here in Colombia.


    1. Well in a sense it's a catch 22 scenario. We've never really had a steady job here while at the same time we almost have a fear of acquiring one if one was available. We all strive for happiness, that's the important thing. You only get one crack at life, so try and make it as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.

      Cheers for taking the time to comment. It's very much appreciated!

  3. Hi, Very interesting to read your take on the age old questions for expats and nomads. I have been and am both.
    I recently wrote an article that may help with the making a living end of life:
    An older article is my take on having the right stuff to live abroad:

    1. Nice articles Michael. The means to 'make it' are within us all.

      'We' have to ask, where in the west of Ireland did you live? As you state, "with time and distance, one’s native home can eventually start to look better too — or so I’m told..." Roscommon is our home county and while we don't think it's for us right now (for one, see, perhaps with time we'll want to return 'home'!

      Cheers for reading and commenting.

  4. Hi Brendan,

    Your questions are very philosophical and dangerous since they can somehow make people get depressed...
    It’s very interesting what you said about money and women and this has to do a lot with the Colombian stereotype that foreigners have a lot of money, I don’t know why but most of the Colombians (men and women) take for granted that people from another country, especially English native speakers, are rich. It’s silly. However, we can’t generalize in this point (I’m taking the risk here of being a dreamer) but there are still women with honest feelings who are not interested in money but in real love. Likewise, I remember the old saying that goes “money can’t buy love”, so I just believe that love happens when it has to happen, it doesn’t matter if the other has or doesn’t have money.

    A last comment: Don’t let the background you mentioned or the society to guide your way of life, why do you have to settle down if you don’t feel it? I’ve known people who never got married and never started a family… Just be happy and don’t rush yourself; I think that’s why we are here in this world, to be happy in the right way or the “wrong way”!

    1. Hi Lorena,

      Well it can be good practice to 'take stock' of one's life every now and again. But yes, one can overdo it on the thinking side -- but 'Team Wrong Way' is quite pensive at the best of times. Again, perhaps we've too much time on our side!

      As mentioned in reply to 'Anonymous' above, we're all striving to be as happy as we can be at any given time. That's what we're trying to achieve.

      Cheers as ever for your considered thoughts :-)