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  • Writer's pictureGreen Silk Road

Are we Nomads Not mad?

Today in Iran I met Friendship: he is a lot like love, commanding unconditional surrender and then rewards you by lifting you up higher than you can imagine, but only if you leave behind your separate self and become an organ in the social body.

Omid and his gang are like a swarm, moving as one, confident, joyfully present and extremely addictive.

I realise how deep my yearning for this rush of brotherhood has been and how it defined my life choices. Every project I started (and they are many!) included a quest for community.

Seeing this group in action makes me question whether it is possible to live a life with true friendship while trotting around the globe like modern day digital nomads?

Friendship seems at its best when it is rooted in the environment: boys in the hood, hanging out with no other purpose than to Be together. No amount of Skype or WhatsApp can replace such shared experience.

When I think back of transformational moments they are all tied to a particular place. Making magic potions on the balcony of the house I grew up in, cycling back from school with my friend to his house over that narrow bridge across the canal, endless tea drinking sessions at another friends kitchen.

Then I left to live in a separate continent and start a family. But friendship of the quality I experienced earlier never came back. Perhaps it's not possible to align our lives to the extent that is needed for deep bonds to sustain when we travel too much?

I used to relate to the image of the digital nomad lifestyle: free to roam, a native of the world, not bogged down in petty bourgeois concerns for mortgages and promotions at the office. But now I am not sure if I would wish this life for my children. Besides the fact that it is directly destroying the earth's climate and life support system, it is limited in what it can offer.

Perhaps this is my midlife crisis peeking through but I look back at decades of international jet setting and sense a dark hole. Friends that were once my entire cosmos have become acquaintances and no new cosmos took their place. I feel lost like a sailor whose stars are hidden by clouds.

Quite frankly I don't know where this leaves the Green Silk Road, because one of the objectives (to put it in project management language) is to build a corridor of relationships which will sustain continuous visits across countries along the way.

Maybe all these relationships don’t need to be so profound but experiencing the intensity of the interbeing in this group takes the shine off anything else.

Could we weave a chain of local friends circles together as backbone for this eco-logical highway? It's a different kind of partnership building, but it might turn out to be more alive than the usual outcome driven approach

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