Traveling is finding the unexpected – and the most beautiful things in life are the unexpected ones. And sometimes, as I will verbalize it, they can be also the worst. Because traveling means both, dealing with the beautiful, charming and graceful as well as dealing with misery, injustice and at times with the incomprehensible. Traveling is dealing with the appalling and shocking gap when having both extremes next to each other, having them present at the very same time in one place.
This here is the story of Jeffrey – and why none of us wants to end up the way he did, although we all will unarguably die in one way or another one day. It happened when I was around in Morocco with my girlfriend. Jeffrey died in Paradise Valley. One can argue that there are worse places on Earth to die. However, none of us will argue that one wants to get on the track that he did.
Traveling is finding the unexpected and sometimes we have to deal with the beauty and the misery being right next to each other.
I didn’t know Jeffrey very well. In fact, I met him as a fellow traveler in one of those many hostels that you can find in any place where tourists go. A somewhat older guy, a lost and broke traveler who kept himself going by staying in the cheapest place possible and selling some drugs to fellow travelers.
He was not a bad guy by any means. I can’t say that I was particularly interested in getting to know to him any closer. He had this aura of being a lonely knight, struggling with life that treated him hard, something deep hurt was in his eyes.
WHEN TOUGH TIMES HIT IN
In my past travels I had to deal with a surgery somewhere in a Bulgarian hospital all on my own, I had to go through the police administrative stuff in various countries at different occasions, however, I had never been challenged with someone who I hardly knew dying – and yet being involved into this and then what to do exactly.
Also, I never thought about taking measures myself for any sort of bad incident that could potentially happen while on the road; it doesn’t have to be the worst possible scenario. I never bothered to tell my family every step I was intending or actually really going to do or hardly did I ever make an effort to look up the contact details of my embassy in the country I was traveling.
In most cases we are lucky. We have family or friends or both that care for us. That we can contact even in the middle of the night if shit really hits the fan. Most of us have a family member, a soulmate or a buddy that would pay for our return ticket in a heartbeat if we were totally broke and we were in the urgent situation to return home. With the right passport sometimes even your embassy would stand for you as a last resort.
Apparently Jeffrey wasn’t that lucky.
After his death nobody really knew anything about him. Not his real name, not where he was living, nor the whereabouts of any family members he had (if any). Even the embassy that had to dedicate to his case had a hard time to find anyone that could take care of him. I am not quite sure how everything went in the end, but there is one thing that I know for sure:
Nobody, I said nobody of us wants to end up like Jeffrey did. Lost, broke, and despaired by life. I might be over-presumptions but let me put it this way. And I believe – no, I actually know! – that among us location independents and digital nomads are a numerous amount of people who are facing the same situation, to one extend or another.
In most cases we are lucky having family or friends taking care of us. Jeffrey was not.
That’s why I personally believe that we need long-term visions, concepts and projects for those of us who can choose their place and the people to live with. Each and every one of us will have to have a break from traveling at some point; the vast majority needs a place to call home. A place that we can fall back on if we don’t want to or cannot make a decision for this moment.
Home is more than just the mere fact of renting or buying some sort of real estate and put a few nice furniture in it. We need a place with a resilient and powerful community around that we are part of. Such ambiance where we feel connected to and have the desire to return to after being on the road. A kind of substitute family maybe even. As location independent we ought to be part of such a community to not have a psychological breakdown at some point – and if we do, hell it can happen to anyone of us – then you have this place and those people that care of you.
Nothing is more valuable and precious than this.