Don Kendrick

29 October 2011. Filed under category Nomad.
Don Kendrick

A great and terrible consequence of the nomadic life is that for each place you visit, you must make new friends or die of loneliness. The further we travel, the further we come from the social norms to which we are accustomed. I feared that it would become increasingly difficult to make friends. I worry no more, thanks to Don Kendrick.

Don and I met at Burning Man 2010. I’ve described him earlier on this blog as a grease-monkey cowboy with a propensity for bodily harm. We were instantly attracted to each other and spent a few magical days exploring the desert. Returning to the US a year later, I’ve now spent several weeks with Don.

What fascinates me about our friendship is that it exists at all!

Don is a Christian; I am an agnostic. Don does not believe in evolution; I believe it is one of the most beautiful scientific breakthroughs of our civilization. He votes republican; I vote for the liberal or environmental parties. He thinks the tea party is a force for good; I believe they are at best misguided and at worst evil. He refutes that humankind is causing global warming; I believe it is proven beyond reasonable doubt. He believes Fox News to be ‘fair and balanced’; I call their reporters a bunch of manipulative demagogues. Don believes that the public have a right to arms; I want to live in a society with as few guns as possible.

Don on Mount San Jacinto

Don on Mount San Jacinto

Let me save some time and bandwidth. Don believes x; I believe ¬x.

(I should point out that Don does listen to the other side of the arguments [e.g. the liberal news shows] far more than I do, and in this, he puts me to shame. The fact remain that he and I come to wildly different conclusions on most things.)

This is not where I will cop out and say that everyone is right ‘in a way’ or that everyone’s views are equally correct. I believe Don is flat-out wrong on each of the points above. The point is that this did not stop us from becoming the greatest of friends.

I adore Don. I’ve never met a man with greater strength of character and integrity. He is a loving, kind and generous man. His personality is complex, multi-faceted and deep. He is admirably adventurous and free-spirited. I envy the way that he is present in every moment. I love the way he talks and plays with his dogs. He is practical with both feet firmly on the ground, yet emotional and spiritual. In short, he is a man that I am proud to call a friend, and to hell with his political ideas. We differ, but not in ways that matter for whether or not we can respect each other and be friends. We can and we do.

Here is the punch line. If you want to be a nomad, then you must be able to make friends in the places you visit. If you can only make friends with those you already share an ideological background, then your destinations are very limited. You might just as well stay home, for you will never be able to explore new cultures if you can’t make friends there.

This goes beyond just exploring the alternative views and lives of others. My friendship with Don has been one of the most rewarding in my life because he has revealed new sides of my own personality. He pushed me to compete in the rodeo and he introduced me to country-western dancing, to mention only a couple of things that I am grateful to Don for. Perhaps it is only when we make unusual friends that we make new discoveries, both external and internal.

Big Bear

Don has been a perfect guide, and it is thanks to him that I‘ve seen Mono Lake, the ghost town Bodie, Lake Tahoe and Palms Springs. The last place he took me before we bid adieu was Big Bear, a gorgeous mountain town. We spent a night in a cosy little cabin, and during the day we drove in search of Don’s old family cabin lost somewhere in the wood. I loved the mountain scenery with its crystal blue lakes, and thought I’d share those pictures below. Enjoy.

Help me grow.

I believe I have an important, or at least entertaining, message to convey, but I can’t do that if I remain in obscurity.

If you’ve enjoyed my writing, please, help me reach more people. Tell your friends about me. Share my posts on Facebook. Re-tweet my links. Dig and stumble my articles. There are buttons at the end of each post that allow you to do this very easily. I can’t stress how much this means to me.

Thank you for your support.

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The Modern Nomad has been voted best in Design and Structure in Dreamhost’s Best site of the Month competition! I’ve spent countless hours making this site look and feel right, so this award means the world to me.


How do your friends reflect on you?

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  1. jay Clark says:

    I Agree and could not have thought it better let alone written it Don is a great man and true friend

  2. Steven says:

    I agree. When we temporarily set aside our own views and listen to the views of others, we empower ourselves to experience life rather than just be a part of it. True strength is standing strong for what you believe in, yet being selfless enough to appreciate, accept and acknowledge the beliefs of others. It is not always easy to do, but in the end the effort is worth it. . .as you so eloquently wrote about here.

  3. Craig Brown says:

    The one common element all my friends share is their passionate interest in IDEAS. But the SAME ideas…whoa, NOT! I once posted on a facebook update that “If all my friends got into one room together Im pretty sure WWIII would break out.” A bumper sticker I had made for my car says “Nullius en Verba” (motto of the Royal Society of London) which basically says “think it through yourself”. The only thing I can’t tolerate is WILLFUL ignorance…they either won’t listen to another point of view or see they are wrong and won’t change their opinion due to pride.
    It is always remember one simple fact: At some point in our life WE WILL ALL BE WRONG. (Ahem, more than once).
    Gustav, my friend, congratulations on your award. Just keep it up. It may reach the tipping point. And you know I’ve been out there promoting you! It’s because I believe in it.

  4. dan says:

    Wow… what a nice writeup. Sounds like a really cool guy. Glad you two crossed paths.

  5. Kristie Jensen says:

    Gustav, I am new to your blog. Found it by going to Dream Host who I chose as my web host. I love being inspired by others’ inspiration. And yours is such a genuine and authentic expression of what you have chosen to experience in your life right now. In your post about Don, I feel diversity can be a catalyst for deeper awareness of the self and every new perspective that another can bring into my own awareness can promote my own evolution. I look forward to reading more of your experiencing “life”.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Welcome to The Modern Nomad, and many thanks for those encouraging words. I try to be as genuine and authentic as I can (those are the kind of articles I like to read myself), so I am happy that comes through OK.

      I look forward to having you as a reader.

  6. J. says:

    Great post with an important message.

  7. Yay, Gustav…another great post. Those of us whose universes are large and expanding know we must find ways to embrace folks whose views are different from ours. If only we could teach the politicians that lesson…but their wheels are greased with things other than tolerance, e.g. $$$.

  8. Jon says:

    This guy Don does sound like a good laugh. If you are going to preach open mindedness you have to listen to other people’s conflicting ideas, especially if they are delivered rationally.

    What is his opinion on immigration I wonder? ..and did you ever come close to blows? “God!”, “Darwin!”, “God!!”, “Darwin!!”, “Darwin!!!”, “God!!!!”


    I assume you did have at least one big thing in common though. Maybe that does cure all ills. Man is a simple beast.

  9. MB says:

    I hope Don sees this post.

  10. BrotherMichael says:

    This blog post appears to be about DON…
    but in my opinion it speaks volumes about YOU.
    Your ability to see past the exterior and deep into the core of another human being.
    You are beautiful.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      And Michael, who do you think I learnt that from?! Let me give you a hint. It had something to do with a desert year 2009.

  11. Christoph says:

    That’s funny.

    Don chooses the sane, evidence-based position in every single area described, except for religion. But then, that supports my hypothesis that one of the evolutionary adaptive benefits of religion is as a “thought conservation strategy”.

    I.e., having a faith-based, but nonsensical, belief system prevents the mind from spending enormous energy on existential questions, and allows it to focus more on practical tasks, including survival and replication, as well as simply better determining truths in other areas.

  12. Xavier says:

    Dear Gustav,

    This post already got so much praise that I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Let me be brutally honest: we readers might forget about your trips, your blog posts, your person even, sucked into the spiral of our respective lives and getting mentally distracted by the constant humming of the Internet.

    But I will not forget that one day, Gustav built a bridge towards someone who under different circumstances could have been your “enemy”, a human being you would have not even considered as worth talking to.

    In this blog post, your eloquence serves only one master: who you are at heart. Masks have fell off. You are naked in the “light”.

    This writing piece I am keeping with me for many years to come.

    That, I won’t forget.
    That, I won’t forget.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Wow, thank you! That comment just made my day! Wait; it is 1.45 am here, so that isn’t a very high bar yet. Let’s say that made my yesterday. Ah hell, it made my week!

  13. Brian says:

    It was so nice meeting you and Don Kendrick. I won’t need to be reminded NOT to talk politics or the environment with him. You and I are kindred political spirits. If back in the SF Bay Area look Raul and I up. You added much to our rodeo experience beyond being just eye candy. You have a quite a brain too lucky man. There are too many vapid people out there and I’m glad that you are not one of them.

How do your friends reflect on you?

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