2 December 2011. Filed under category Nomad.
Looking for a purpose.

Looking for a purpose.

Arriving in Mexico City a month ago marked the end of the three-month long honeymoon phase of my new nomadic life. In the US, I stayed with friends and spent my days sightseeing and having fun. Now it was time to become productive again and create something out of my life. The problem was that I had no idea what that something was. I found myself alone in a strange country with no purpose.

This lack of purpose has really affected me. From having been an energetic over-achiever, I am now sluggish and lazy. It takes me forever to get ready in the morning or do the simplest of errands. It is as if I am dragging my feet to make these tasks take longer and thus leave fewer hours in which to worry about what I really should be doing with my life. There is a listless apathy hanging over me and I am entirely unaccustomed to it. I’ve always been a carefree happy-go-lucky kind of guy who never used to brood over these kinds of things. So what happened?

The old purpose was a mirage.

The thing is that I have not really lost my purpose as I honestly never had one. All my life, I’ve had an imposed structure dictating what I should do. From school to university to work, there was always someone around to tell me how to spend the majority of my day. Although dull at times, this still gave me a feeling of ‘being on track’ and ‘doing what I was supposed to do’. Having spent eight hours at school/university/work ‘doing my duty’, I was then free to take the rest of the day off and merrily go to the pub and flirt or meet my friends for an evening of gaming.

But wherein lay the purpose in that? Earning money? No, I’m not that shallow. Building a career? That is only a purpose if the work done has a purpose, and while I enjoyed the professional challenges, I never felt that my work carried a personal purpose. Having fun and be happy? Perhaps, but I can easily do that here, so why the sudden worry about purpose?

The truth is that I never had a real purpose, but I was too busy to notice or care.

Remember your reasons for change.

Now that I have taken full control of my life and there is no one left to tell me what to do, I can no longer escape the question of purpose. I’ve fought so hard and sacrificed so much to forge my own path and chase this dream of a nomadic life, and for what purpose? What am I trying to accomplish with all this effort?

This past month, my only answer has been a pathetic ’I don’t know.’ But while I’ve been writing this post, I’ve realized that that isn’t true at all! I have reminded myself that I did have a purpose when I set out on this path, almost a year ago. How could I have forgotten?

I am doing what I am doing to create a sustainable nomadic life. I hope that such a life will help me to never stagnate, keep growing as a person and explore as many facets of this life and world as possible.

I don’t know if that is purpose enough for one’s life, but at least it is more than what I had before.

Write Down Your Purpose

No one makes huge life-altering changes without a reason or purpose. But as I experienced this month, it can be easy to lose track of that when those changes become reality. You can help yourself remember by writing down your goal somewhere where you will see it often, be it on your bedroom wall, as a goal in your Getting Things Done system or the bottom of your laundry basket.


Why Do You Do What You Do is a social meme where people answer that same question in writing on a photo of themselves. I love browsing these photos. I am often moved and inspired by the insight of these people and the raw way in which they express it.


What is your purpose?

Skip to bottom
  1. Carmella says:

    My purpose is to experience everything. The meaning of life is to experience and its my experiences that give my life meaning.

    Thank you for believing in yourself enough to take the leap. 🙂 Ten years ago I did the same and nothing has been the same since.

    Well done on the site and your writing. Keep it up!

  2. Xavier says:

    Dear Gustav, Dear “modern nomadic human being”,

    Let me play one moment the devil’s advocate with good intentions in mind. I am not sure that one can ever claim that he is in “full control of its life” nor do I believe in the “writing down a purpose” method, which sounds to me too much like a corporate personal development trick for finding a career path. Basically it seems to me that your inner & physical journeys ares much bigger than this. I can hear though a different voice in this post, like anxiety is suddenly talking. Let’s close our eyes, breathe a moment and relax…

    At the end of your post, you say : “I am doing what I am doing to create a sustainable nomadic life” but to me, this sounds more like a means to end. I am reading between the lines that you start feeling that finding a purpose follows very much the rules of a creative process: it’s unstructured, it has highs and lows, it doesn’t follow a sense of logic, it is quite uncontrollable in nature. It is also instinctive and breaks through the layers of self-deception that we or our environment have put on ourselves. (You definitely touch upon this point in the middle of the post).

    Maybe you should continue to go with the flow for a while. Time for self-reflection will come. You are slowly uncovering the pieces of the puzzle one after the other but maybe the overall pattern is out of reach just yet: this is quite OK, don’t let anxiety get to you. Just use the serendipitous nature of “fate” make the path clear to you… You could for example be reminded of people who got into their worst jobs ever but through a colleague managed to meet their wives or husbands… So the reason why they got the job in the first place became clear only in the distance, looking back.

    Also, it might be more important to reach out to others and privilege an outwards direction instead of trying to “get things in”. Others, people we care for have the power to give us purpose: purpose is a direct consequence of generosity, love, compassion. Self-fulfillment rarely serves this objective. You will find this moment on your path when through the help given to others and putting your hands in motion in a truly selfless manner, purpose will emerge. You are very very close to this “epiphany”, I believe. Very close.

    You enjoy “broadcasting” your thoughts, your reflections, your wisdom : this serves a purpose. The time that I’ve spent writing this reply meant something – to me- at least. You’ve reached an objective already… Please listen to us as much as we like listening to you. (Reviewing this reply, I am feeling compelled to state that I am not truly “religious” in nature. So this piece of advice has no religious ulterior motives, just sharing experiences… )

    /hug /cuddle /peace from far away.

    P.S. As a reminder, Alice doesn’t understand the sense of her journey until the very end and we, readers, get a sense for her purpose only then. At the very beginning, she meets the Cat and…
    “Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
    Alice: I don’t much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

    1. MB says:

      From where is this Alice reference? I like it.

      1. Lewis Carroll…Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, an exceptional classic that touches on the theme of “purpose.”

        1. MB says:

          I’ve gone far too long without watching this movie classic. I think it’s about time before I miss out on other references.

  3. kimera azriel says:

    It’s easier to define as not to fall back into the trap. The keeping up with the Jonses. To stay without possions. to realize that the world is your oyster and it’s there to explore and see. Go and do. No more excuses. Work, kids, family, school, whatever the excuse. To explore new places and meet new people. (oh, I’m hearing Star Trek here.) I want to be able to say I have met people from all over the world in their homes. I want to be able by doing this to feel a sense of hope that generally people are decent, good people. I hope to find that no matter where you are from you want the same basic things. Not the possessions but more of a spiritual gratifacation.
    Those that we meet and affect by our lifestyle are envious. Ask your self why? What do they wish for when they see you doing the nomad? I think there might be different reasons for different people to begin to roam the globe.

  4. Joel Oswaldo says:

    I think I haven´t a defined “life purpose” in this moment, more than that, I think I’ve ever had, I mean, at different times in my life I have pursued different objectives or goals, some have done fully, some not, but I’ve never lived with the feeling of having a specific purpose in my life. Right now, I have clear objectives to achieve in my professional and personal life, but definitely I don´t think one of these is my “life purpose”

    I don´t know, the issue seems too philosophical and complicated for me. Don´t worry so much about it, if indeed you have a purpose, it will be revealed to you at the right time.

    You’re in a time of exploration and knowledge, enjoy it, perhaps, within a time you will find a larger purpose than you have right now, or maybe that just stop being important to you

    PS: I love the PS Xavier wrote.

  5. Stephen says:

    Purpose is important. It means you keep moving and finding new things. It means you feel a sense of worth.
    For me true purpose comes from the heart and your belief system. I do not believe in ‘personal goals’ or ‘objectives’ in life except to follow my belief system and accept who I am. I do not, for example, make new years resolutions.
    A good friend of mine is an amazing business mind. He was at a function and met a very wise person who basically rubbished planning in too detailed way for the future. You have a vision of what/where you want to be and all you can realistically do is be aware of when you are at a cusp or decision point in your life and through your value system make the decision of where you want to go. All these decisions add up to your future.
    Gustav your past purpose was not a mirage. It was real and shaped the person you are now. Its just when you look back you can see the ‘cusps’ and things you went through and rationalise it. You can join the dots looking back but not looking forward.
    I try to embrace my value system and reflect on what it really is, understand where I want to go and what I want out of my life, and move to ensure decision points come my way that will give me the chance to experience it. Its a kind of gestalt approach.
    Really important to remember: happiness is not a ‘thing’ but a state of mind vs other stimuli that you have around you. One’s outlook and purpose interact with others (who might even tell you what to do or make you behave in a certain way) to create that feeling – or not.

  6. J. says:

    Your purpose may be to stimulate others…

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Thank you J. That touches on what the Dalai Lama said about purpose, and because it was such a succinct and deep thing to say, I will bite back my sexual joke saying, “That’s what I’ve been doing all my life.” It would be improper to say now, right?

      1. J. says:

        I always like to be “short and sweet” when it comes to my comments, so yes, let’s go with the sexual context as well. So, by all means, carry on! (By the way, if you are reading between the lines, and in case we meet in the future- I am not too short and nor always sweet.)

  7. Craig Brown says:

    Wow, Gustav, you have presaged one of my reasons for coming to visit you. Incredible.
    Gustav, childlike and imaginative, feeling lost and depressed? How excellent that your choice has led you to experience a new emotion. To redouble your effort, in the most baldfaced way, to find a REAL and not CONTRIVED meaning for your life. If you ever meet my Mother (I hope so) you will now feel a deeper compassion for her depression you couldn’t have before. And Xavier spent his time well today in writing you. Especially the fourth paragraph.

    Many years ago a friend gave me a book titled “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. It started me on a spiritual path that has totally changed the way I see my life. The book describes his theory, which he calls “logotherapy” (nice wiki on it) about how all mental health can be boiled down to a person’s sense of meaning for their life. While in the concentration camps during WWII, Frankl first got this idea when he noticed that those people who were surviving this horrendous experience were those that could find a meaning for their suffering.

    During my own spiritual journey I have focused on expanding my own conciousness. To understand how other people, good and bad or just different, have arrived at totally varied experiences of life than me. If you believe in X, how did Don arrive at ~X? By expanding your conciousness to include others’ conciousness you fear them less and you begin to love more. As the years went by I started becoming better and better at loving. I never EVER expected the rewards to be as great as they have become either. In my own blog, which you will help me set up ;-), I plan to discuss what love really is and what happens when you practice it.

    The very courageous thing you did in giving up all your possessions and security left you face to face with your demons. Like Odysseus, you too have demons to conquer. And there they are. Living at least part of your life as a nomad, it could be that the very part that looks lost is the part where you find yourself…while other’s lead their “life of quiet desperation” and die wondering why they ever were born.

    Still he knew if he roamed near or far,
    Should he have a psychological scar,
    His psyche inside
    Would come along for the ride
    For wherever you go, there you are.

    By the way, you should really be proud of this blog.
    See you soon.

  8. Gustav,
    I think your purpose is the same as mine: to experience as much of the world as possible, using all your senses, to filter everything through your unique lens, then to spit it back in eloquent words.

    Through your blog, I feel your pain, joy and insight, so you’ve accomplished at least one purpose: pulling a reader along with you on your journey. There’s surely another in your cards: think about turning these blog posts into a book as you write them. You’re a gifted writer with a great platform & many followers, so maybe your ultimate purpose is to be a published author. I’d like a signed copy of your first book!

    Keep up the good work and keep questioning,

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Melissa, I do believe that this is a legally binding contract. (My imaginary lawyers are nodding their heads.) So that is one book sale down!

      I am half-working on a book, but it is a piece of fiction. It has been on ice for a long time, but you reminded me of it. And that in turn made me think that perhaps creating something can be a good purpose in a life. I know I would feel mighty proud if my book ever got published, and maybe pride of a life accomplishment and purpose are related. That would make sense.

  9. MB says:

    Purpose = The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. There are many mini purposes that I have had and currently have, but the one purpose I think you are referring to is my ultimate existence which is one I have yet to uncover. I don’t know if it is possible to know such a thing. Is it to merely exist, but exist in a way where I am expressing the truest sense of my being? I am starting to believe so, I have exhausted all religious conclusions. I think people establish their purpose whether it’s through religion, family, or work but what ultimately gives it power is belief. If you believe in it then it’s yours. I currently don’t believe I have any particular purpose other than to exist which I am very comfortable with all other ideas of purpose that I’ve had just gave me stress and disappointment. Merely existing in itself is quite intriguing.

  10. Xavier says:

    Hello again
    After reading all the various replies, am I the only one to think that if we had the chance to meet in real life we could very well all get along?
    Glad to see that human hearts still beat around this planet. It gives me hope. Thank you everyone! Thank you Gustav!

  11. Allan says:

    Gustav, please prepare to forgive me for this comment, you know I love you. HOWEVER, what strikes me most about your latest post is the naivety of your comment ‘But wherein lay the purpose in that? Earning money? No, I’m not that shallow. That is only a purpose if the work done has a purpose…’. Well Gustav, I am shocked that you ARE so shallow to make that comment. Most people have to work, and the reason they have to work is because they need money to survive. I know that what you probably mean is that you are not shallow enough to want money for money’s sake, but I think your comments, as they are, insult the vast majority of the world’s population who have no choice but to work for money. If one is part of the sizable minority of the world’s population who are living in poverty, then the purpose of the work done is entirely irrelevant, and all that is relevant is the money earned for the work. Looking forward to the next post. Allan

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I stand by that ‘earning money’ is a poor life purpose, whether you are rich or poor. What you choose to spend the money on might have a great deal of purpose, but that isn’t the same thing. Working as a mean to an end makes perfect sense, and for some that ‘end’ is simply to survive.

      Earning money isn’t shallow in itself. In fact, it is entirely neutral in this regard. But if a person derives a sense of self-worth and purpose from merely earning money, and not for what he does with that money (be it feeding his/her family or curing cancer), then I do think that a bit shallow.

      I think you touch on something really interesting here. If I read correctly between your lines, I think what you are upset about is a perceived disregard from my part for those whose lives are economically constricted far more than mine, to the point that they cannot hope to accomplish more than simply surviving and provide for their family. I never meant such disregard. We are all born unfairly. There are many who are much more limited by the circumstances of their birth than I, just as there are those who are more free than me as well.

      Thank you for pointing that out.

      1. Rich says:

        Most people who read this who know me will know that I endeavour to live a similar lifestyle to Gustav’s (in my own way). I do not have a bank-roll to start with, nor any family to fall back on when and if things go wrong. However, my decisions reflect that.

        I have always wanted this lifestyle for myself, and so decided not to start a family, so that nobody depended on my earnings to survive, so that I would not be obliged to earn a certain amount in order to survive and support those who depended on me.

        I work until I feel I have enough money to travel for a while, and then I travel until I feel I need to stop and earn some more. Wash, rinse, repeat.

        I feel that I made the decision that earning money, in and of itself, was not sufficient purpose for me. And I don’t see why anyone who happens to have more (or less) of it than I did at the beginning of the process should not be able to make that same decision.

        It seems easy to say that someone with money who makes that statement is blowing off the rest of us who don’t have money. And perhaps most of them would be: but I know Gustav, and I know that what he means by it, is the same thing that most of us would.

        1. Allan says:

          Dear Rich,

          In my opinion you are very brave to live the life you desire and not conform to the norm. I wish I were more like you. (I hope that does not come across as patronising – it is honestly said) However, what is important to remember is that you have the choice to do that. Making presumptions, you probably had an education giving you, at least, basic skills such as reading and writing and maths. You may have gone, or had the opportunity to go, to university. You probably live somewhere with running water, heating, a bed, space. You probably do not go hungry. But if you are one of the nearly 50% of the world’s population who live on less than US$2.50 a day, or one of the 80% who do not have access to running water, or one of the estimated 22,000 children who die each day from a symptom of poverty, then you just don’t have the type of choices that you and I have, even if we think they are hard choices. I totally agree that Gustav was not ‘blowing off’ the rest of us, but in a debate about purpose, perhaps we do need to remember how lucky we are to have choices and the luxury of thinking about, and perhaps following, our purpose.

          By the way Gustav, if you have never read it, I highly recommend ‘The Razor’s Edge’ by Somerset Maugham. In a nutshell its about a man from a wealthy East Coast family, who is expected to be a banker or whatever, but just wants to ‘loaf’ and to find enlightenment. It changed my outlook in life many years ago.


          1. Rich says:

            Hi Allan,

            Don’t worry, like Gustav, I am very hard to offend on most topics 🙂

            I in no way intended to suggest that there aren’t people without the luxury of these decisions, just to point out that Gustav’s decision is genuine, not a naive disregard for his own privilege.

            I maintain however that anyone can decide that money is not “purpose enough” to work a specific job. For a lot of people, that decision won’t change their day-to-day (ie “survival” is purpose enough, and hence they have to keep their job), but it can (and probably often does) help them in the long run to change their lot in life.

    2. Andy DelliColli says:

      really? The poor are a minority? My purpose in life is and had always been to nudge people awake. 60% of the world’s population starves due to greed and governmental ineptitude. That number is rising, not falling. This is unsustainable. Wake-up.
      The top one hundreth of a percentage of earners are in control of a vast majority of the world’s wealth as the entire system, from the bottom to the top is tipped towards their benefit. For example, here in the United States, there are many people who live in what I like to refer to as “Artificial Comfort” as our banking system allows them loans for homes and businesses with no actual capitol to back it up. In Fact, US banks as well as many other banking systems only actually can back up about ten percent of what they loan out. HOWEVER, they make money by asking you to not only pay back the full amount (of which 90% didn’t exist in the first place other than on a computer screen), but also to have you pay back the interest. This makes the banking systems steal from you by actually deflating the value of your currency. This makes large currency systems and large Unions of countries extremely dangerous. At absolutely any moment, your supposed comforts can be snatched away entirely by devaluing your money to nearly nil. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.
      When a person takes economics classes, what they are learning are simply the rising and falling trends of this artificial economic cycle. They do not, however, learn why they happen. By creating a fall in trends, they creat a sense of need, then when they loosten again, they create a spending bubble which, by the process described above, profits only the few on top. never assume the people thriving and working are in a majority.

  12. Elliot Kemp says:

    Hi Gustav

    (NB the main point of this message is near the end)

    I have really enjoyed reading your site. I have only recently started looking at in detail as I was very preoccupied organising our trip and the first few months of the trip have been hectic so only now finding the time to enjoy it.

    Your site is fantastic and so well designed. I realise how much effort it is to find/make the time to write anything about your life while on the road other than quick Facebook updates – so I take my hat off to you.

    Your recent post on purpose really struck a chord with me. I did not have a clear reason for travelling, more a mix of reasons – change my daily routine, see another part of the world, have fun and time to reflect with the slight hope that the eight months away would give me a clue about what to do next in life.
    We have planned to slow the pace of travel down in Thailand in January and Feb so we could rest and reflect on life after the hectic pace through Russia, Mongolia, china, Vietnam and Cambodia. However once I got to Vietnam and we were no longer on a preplanned tour I became frustrated with travelling and did not know what was the purpose of moving to the next location. I blamed this on our location as there was no ‘must see’ places in Vietnam for us and I thought if we change counties it will get better. We carried on in Vietnam and had some good times but when we got to Cambodia I had the same frustrated feeling. This unhappiness at a time when I would have expected to be most happy has really helped me start thinking about what makes me happy and how I perceive the present. As a planner I love thinking about the future but I find it difficult to focus on the present.

    Our friend Ben had warned us before we left that most people get unhappy when they do nothing everyday after a life where a routine of work or study had been externally placed on them. Having no externally controlled routine means you have to make your own and that’s s lot harder. Ben suggested even a small commitment to do something we regarded as worthwhile each day would help us feel we had achieved something and be happier- such as do some exercise or yoga each morning or read a book (I have a philosophy text book I have been meaning to read for over a year). Needless to say I have not been doing this as I always felt too busy, but I guess that’s the point of the task is to apply a structured to your life so you do have the time to do the task and then feel a sense of achievement.

    And now I finally get to the main point of this message.
    Ben gave me a book to take away on happiness called ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who is a professor of psychology in the US. It was first published in the early 1990s (revised in 2002) and is a synthesis of the research into happiness that had been in academic papers but never presented to a wider audience in a more digestible format.
    The book has laid at the bottom of my bag unread until now. The frustration I talk about above made me open the book to see if it was any use. I have not finished it yet but so far I can highly recommend it to you. It really helps explain what happiness and meaning in life is about. Its not a self-help book and doesn’t offer any easy answers but it will help you structure your thinking about your purpose in life. It’s science based so there is none of the religious or new-age mumbo jumbo.

    I’m not sure it will be easy to find in Mexico but I’m sure you can find it on the web.

    I wish you well in your new(ish) life and I hope our paths cross again in the not too distant future.

    1. “Flow” is fantastic! It’s the state I get in when I redesign my website…no sense of time, up all night…zzz…

  13. MB says:

    I just want to say I love this blog maybe a little too much since I am currently reading all of the comments because you have such a fascinating audience with interesting critiques and insights. As a result I have two great books to add to my reading list thanks to this post. I vote for Gustav for having the blog of the year!

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I might be blowing my own horn here, but I couldn’t agree more! Many blogs have either inactive, inane or troll-infected commenting sections, but not mine! (hurray!)

      So a big thank you to everyone who engages with the blog here on the comments. I read everything, and I can’t begin to say how much it means to me.

      And a special thank you to Allan, Xavier and anyone else who doesn’t just agree with me and challenge me on what I write! I know you do it from the best of intentions, and I hope you take my sometimes vicious retorts as coming from the same place of standing up for your ideas and enjoying the arguing of one’s standpoint.

  14. Ernesto Mosso says:

    NOOOOO my god !! it hits way 2 close 2 home! I gotta say I totally agree with Melissa and as I told ya recently Gustav => you have a flair or shall I say “affair” with the pen/laptop! You catch the reader and don’t let it go! We’re hooked!! Kuddos on that! I’d totally buy any book of urs! I am in the middle of this meeting and couldn’t stop reading ur blog instead of the 2012 sales forecast! hahaha anyways, as I was saying right now I’m stuck here in a hotel celebrating (sarcasm of course) our 2012-Budgeting annual meeting with all these people from some many countries striving for the best number for the upcoming 2012! This seems to be their purpose lately! I’m having enough of this reviewing/modifying/changing whatever from all of these people, different currencies and all of them have it very clear: “we need to hit THE NUMBER in 2012” hahaha but … what the F** am I doing here? As Allan stated, I’m here coz a boys gotta eat! hahahaha It has been coming to my mind since last year the horrible “what if!” => what if I’m wasting my time working here?, what if I become MIA and move somewhere where no one really knows me?, what if I decide to go back to drawing even though it pays less than *business**??, etc, etc, etc…

    As you wrote, I also have done all the MUST-DO things in order to apparently live a good/comfy life => go 2 school, get good grades, go 2 uni, get a job, blah blah… but waaaaaait a minute, who said this was the secret coca-cola-like recipe for happiness? or is that it? coz it doesn’t seem to b working as expected! DAMN! Have you heard the saying that once you (a) write a book, (b) have a child and (c) plant a tree, BINGO you are all set! You can die now, you fulfilled your purpose in life, mmhhhh really?? I bet there is more than that! but what-n-where would it be? … mmhhh 😛 otherwise I’m screwed! All I wrote so far are business reports n facebook updates, don’t even have a mini bonsai tree and haven’t adopted a cat, much less a vietnamese baby! OH-OH !!

    I think that as happens to me sometimes at the workplace, the more you think about it, sometimes the more stuck you get. Falling into paralysis-by-analysis just round n round going nowhere… In fact during your accrued experiences with friends/work/family/special-someone/job-acquaintances/etc… u give purpose to your life and it is shaped in a way that it fits into someone else’s crazy-puzzle/life! hahaha maybe my only braincell left is messing w/my head, dunno :O

    BTW that quote given by Xavier of Alice in Wonderland is gr8! That line is a MUST at Business School. How to plan or what to do when you don’t even know where to go nor what do you want!? The teacher was right, I would never forget that line … Yikes!! LOL

    2 wrap up, also agree with MB and Xavier. All comments are quite cool and put you into thinking and also if we all would meet in a “meet-n-greet” with famous book writer-on-the-making Gustav we would probably get along quite good! haha

    Till next post

    1. Craig Brown says:

      You are hilarious Ernesto! But thanks for getting Gustav sick in Hidalgo to coincide with my visit (I know you didn’t do it on PURPOSE). It will be me next week.
      And to you and Xavier and all the above, everyone is invited to my house in Traverse City Michigan, a summer paradise, summer 2012! How about it?

      1. Ernesto Mosso says:

        What ?!?!?! He is sick? Holy crap on a cracker!! Well Gustav ya know I mean no harm to you but … let’s admit it, your uncontrollable thirst-4-the-unknown got you into eating all “guajolotas” you could get and also Pulque and get this dear readers, it wasn’t just one glass! hahahaha 😛 I did not even know what a guajolata was since in the city it is a different street food but this one from Hidalgo comes reloaded with tortilla inside the bread and on top of that meat! That just seemed like too much flour to deal with later on! and noooouuuuu I’m not initiating a bad-publicity-wave against guajolotas, I’m just saying they looked way to suspicious to me! hahahaha just kidding! No seriously man, u’r ill? CRAP!

        Craig if you avoid spicy and fat (which is not easy in here I KNOW!! I mean c’mon!) u’ll be ok, but man, at least have some “salsa verde” or “garnacha” c’mon just a bite! LOL

        and hell yes! Let’s go to Michigan! WuuuHuuuuuu!


      2. Xavier says:

        Hi, wow, so nice!

        Actually this is still uncertain but I might be back to San Francisco between June and December 2012 for 3 months minimum in the context of a sabbatical leave. I’ll take advantage of the time to practice my fiction writing and hopefully complete a new novel (in French…) I used to live there between 1997 and 2002 and I’m pretty sure things have changed a quite a lot. Apprently, housing prices have skyrocketed even more than during the dot-com boom and the a new neighborhood has emerged named the “deco ghetto” which was still a run-down area at the time. Well maybe we’ll meet in happy-bear land 🙂 instead of Michigan… Who knows?

        Gustav: sorry for trolling, I had to answer that one! 🙂
        Ciao jolly folks! Hasta la proxima!


  15. About my Purpose…

    This question is the same that I have tried to answer. In the beginnings of this years, I was so restless, this question made a lot of noise on my mind, very hard, I didnt have peace, so I decided to move, I decided to go for another direction, to another place, another country, I decided to start the searching of this answer.

    Now, I´m more quiet, ( not of all, because I don’t find the answer not yet ) but in this searching I´m realizing that maybe just one purpose in a life doesn’t exist. I mean, life give us the possibility to have more than one purpose. Like everything in this world, all is temporal and all is created in base a cycle, I think that all the purpose are temporal.
    For e.g. The purpose of a mother maybe started when she wants to have children, give education, love and good bases, but what happens when the boy is grown up and leaves the home or makes his own life? The woman who was that mother, now has another purpose: finding herself, look inside her life and start to search another purpose.
    Another example, when you finish your travel for the world, you have probably found one purpose, and maybe you will be quiet, but I think you will start looking for a new purpose.

    For this reason, my only purpose in this life (now) is take the chances, take the risks and enjoy all the moments, all the experiences, it doesn’t matter how long will be this moment (little time, long time…), because nothing is forever.
    I follow all the symbols and all the signs of the life, I try to understand the language of the universe, only, in this way, I will can find my purpose in the life ( Well, if it´s true that there is only just one main purpose, I will prove this) we must be alert, awake to perceive these signals.

    All this language will help you in your searching. Achieving one purpose will help you to find another purpose.

    By the way. I love the quote of Alice in Wonderland that Xavier have posted here. Thanks Xavier for share whit all here.

    P. S To Craig, sorry, Gustav´s disease is my fault, I invited to him to prove this, to prove that, to prove the Pulque and some traditional food of my birthplace, but really, Ernesto and me doesn’t wanted to Gustav get sick. We thought that the stomach of Gustav was strong after he prove Tacos and street food of the city. 🙂


    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      He he, OK, much talk about my sickness here. It is not of the stomach; it is the mother of all colds and sore throats. I blame the cold of Hidalgo. If only someone would have told me to bring warm clothes… Eh Paco? It might also have had something to do with a petrol-fumed car and a night-time drive with the windows rolled down. Just a thought. (Totally worth it though!)

  16. Joel Oswaldo says:

    Purposes we are talking about. Today is a great day, I’m very happy, my life is still a disaster in many ways (I have to move many of my things from Mexico city to this cold, ice cold, Zacatecas city, I have to find a house where live alone, my horrible English, etc.) but, this morning I had a meeting with the bishop, the tourism director, the director of public infrastructure, the representative of the national Institute of anthropology and History and all of them trust me, they know a little of my work, I’m very proud. It’s a great opportunity to contribute to the preservation of my history and my culture (just like you mentioned it Gustavito). So professionally I have now a very great purpose.

    I completely agree with Paco, I’m not sure there is one main purpose in life, but each time, at every stage, we are providing opportunities or challenges; and if we feel bad or incomplete, we have to move and look what we really want to do.

    Get well asap (now you’re the one who needs “la sopa de pollo”)

    Saludos a todos chicos, gracias a ustedes estoy estudiando inglés =)

    (thank you all, for my free english classes)

  17. Jon says:

    I feel I have to contribute something because I read all of these posts which contain some terrific wisdom and encouragement
    …and pretty much everything has been covered. But, for the hell of splurging into the e-void….

    My first thoughts when reading the topic were:

    1. “What is my purpose?” is a pretty deep existential question. I think what you really mean is “what direction do I
    have in my life”. Purpose can really only be solved by religious beliefs. When Gray was in the desert he got a glimpse
    of God’s plan. From that moment on he had purpose. We of little faith have no need of purpose as such because in a
    million years it won’t matter. We cannot possibly influence the Universe in any meaningful way, however, that is not to
    say that life is a waste of time.

    I think direction is important and the concept is interchangeable with most of the discussions about purpose so far raised. We want to feel like we are going some-where to achieve some-thing. If you have no direction you need to give it some thought…..but leave purpose to the priests.

    2. A life time ago I was “dancing” at 3am in some London club e-ing off my tits. I got separated from my friends
    like a lame antelope outside the safety of the herd (which is probably what Jono looks like dancing). Some guy came up to
    me and said “you have no purpose”. I pretended not to hear him over the loud music and could write it off as some random
    act of an asshole, however, it stuck with me. In fact I had an epiphany that night (the camera lens of existence zoomed
    out to reveal me writhing alone in the midst of a sea of zombies) and decided that taking ecstasy and going to dance clubs just “wasn’t me”. I kind of enjoyed that scene for a little while and never did I forsake true metal, but it was a waste of my time and energy.

    So perhaps I should thank that guy. I don’t think that I had “no purpose” at all but I had lost my way a bit. Sometimes you need a random bastard to shake you out of the funk.

    There you have it. Outside of direction I reckon “Purpose” itself is an illusion unless you believe there is in fact some
    divine plan. That’s not to say you can’t have a “calling” though.

    ..oh. Shit.

    1. Andy DelliColli says:

      Having the occasional wild pleasure is not a crime, brother, as long as it doesn’t engulf and devour your life.

      1. Jon says:

        I completely agree. I am no killjoy and fully endorse the use of drugs and decriminalization. Although I reckon once you start injecting shit into your penis you gotta reassess your life.

        Anybody seen Bill Hicks’ “Revelations” stand up routine? It teaches you pretty much all you need to know about philosophy.

        1. Andy DelliColli says:


        2. Andy DelliColli says:

          That being said, I’m not one to inject anything into anywhere…. especially not my dick.

    2. Xavier says:

      In this post, you come across as humble and deeply honest. By sharing your experience, you seem to serve the purpose of teaching how to go back to the roots of one’s existence. This is quite a return on investment if we consider the price of the entry ticket at the night club. 🙂
      I am fond of people able to reinvent themselves. It takes an awful amount of courage to follow that path.


  18. Loly Monreal says:

    Hola chicos,

    Probably I’m not able to explain well my contribute on the issue, but I will try to be short (I’m not normally short) and keep the eye on the ball (like some one years ago told me).
    On this days I have been very occupied talking with my husband about our plans for our family… the reason is that I live in Italy and left my lovely family and country where you are now living your journal. Let me tell YOU something: IT IS HARD! But I did it for one purpose: LOVE! There is not happiness or unhappiness to question.

    I’m very passionate about the meaning of life because of this purpose: LOVE.
    Jessica, your sister, knows me because in Up with people I have been always the mexican LOCA! I had always defend the significance of LOVE in everything I done.

    Sooooo my purpose in life I interpreted as a mission. Is not a scope (goal) to live, it is something I’m sure I’ll leave in the persons I met (could not be special or could be special, I don’t know, but I’m not worry about it, as long as my actions and reactions to interact are real, congruent and deep as much as I consider my emotions), then, those people I met will continuous the exchange awake after me, for me.
    Leave my Love in this world meant: touching “the hearts memory” of my daughters, my mother, my sister, my husband, my family and YOU!

    My purpose is LOVE, your purpose when you are around me is to take it or leave it, what do you want to do?

    What ever you decide, you’ll be fine, because you decided!

    Besos y abrazos de una loca mexicana llena de amor para dar 😉 porque ama que este VIVA LA GENTE!

    Buen viaje!

    1. Craig Brown says:

      Wooow~Lola such an awesome statement, well understood, even through your mangled English! I love the third paragraph, but especially “My purpose is LOVE, your purpose when you are around me is to take it or leave it, what do you want to do?” Right on!

      “Love” is a word that has been promiscuously used and has thus lost much of its meaning. For me, I think of “love” not as an emotion but an action. Something you DO for another person that can help them in their own growth, their own chosen path. It doesn’t expect anything in return. And it is the same for all types of relationships: parent-child, “lover”-“lover”, spouse-spouse, friend-friend, or God-man if you believe in a God. Cheers crazy Mexicana!

      And to parallel Xavier earlier…has anyone besides Gustav’s brother noticed how many replies there are to this post? Hmmm. Seems Gustav touched on a universal topic.

  19. Brother Henrik says:

    Oj vad många komentarer. efter att ha läst dom 8-10 första och sen kommit på hur många och långa komentarer det är, så orkade jag inte läsa resten men det är ett väldigt bra ämne och många bra inlägg.

  20. Phil Stevens says:

    Gustav, I’m wondering, after over a year on from writng this article, if your perception and understanding of ‘purpose’ in relation to your nomadic lifestyle has changed at all based on your experience?
    Personally, I’m inclined to view purpose as a determined goal or intended outcome, a means to an end. However, purpose, in the sense of being a reason for existance is more closely related to ‘meaning’ which affords a much wider scope and capacity for consideration in terms of individuals lives.
    With meaning comes truth, our own truth is always with us except sometimes it gets lost along the way or is denied to us or we suppress it out of fear. I believe that your truth Gustav is concomitant to your purpose and meaning and is the prime motivator propelling you on this, your chosen journey. The challenges you have faced so far have clearly provided you with the very tools you have needed in order to evolve, (and will no doubt continue to do so) which is it’s ‘purpose’ in the first place. I don’t believe that your pre-nomadic life held no purpose for you, it was simply the course of life events which have made it possible for you to be where you are right now, cherish that!
    For some reason I have felt compelled to include this quote:

    ‘We shall not cease from exploration
    And at the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time’ (T S Eliot)

    You already have an abundance of purpose (meaning) in your life Gustav, just remember that it is not about reaching a goal in itself or proving a point, it’s a wonderful experiential journey of learning and there lies your truth. ENJOY THE RIDE!

    1. My sense of purpose has changed a little but over the year. I now consider my nomadic experiment to carry purpose. I hope that I will explore its benefits and challenges and by doing so, help other who secretly wish for a similar life to reach for it.

      The nomadic life is not suitable for the majority of people, and that is fine. We are all different. But I hope that my choosing the nomadic lifestyle can motivate others to reach for their dreams, even if they are as unconventional as the nomadic life.

      So that is the first part of my current purpose, the known part. The second is unknown. I have room for more purpose in my life, but I don’t know what it is. What is different from when I wrote this post is that I don’t stress about it too much. I believe that the nomadic lifestyle is more conducive to me finding this elusive purpose than if I was geo-static. I constantly meet new people and their ideas, and somewhere along the road, I might find one that triggers the realization of what my life should really be about.

      Until that happens, I shall remain carefree and happy-go-lucky. Worrying too much about purpose is upsetting and doesn’t help anyway.

  21. Phil Stevens says:

    Interesting, sounds like there has been a slight shift in your sense of purpose (the first part) although there has always remained a constant – your intention to help motivate others. Good to hear that you are less concerned about the nature of the elusive unknown part and are open to whatever comes your way, you have the right attitude. Like I said – Enjoy the ride, I’m sure you have every intention of doing so. Thankyou Gustav for your response.

  22. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    did you ever consider maybe the purpose for all of us is to stop searching for PURPOSE and just allow ourselves to BE? maybe in that BE ing is the answer. The harder you push, the more you want to find the answer, sometimes it runs faster away from you. I’m looking at all this from a much advanced age than you and most, if not ALL, your blog followers. I still can’t define my purpose. I don’t need a definition. I AM. I DO. I’m fulfilling my purpose without needing to have it spelled out.
    The other part of this is, you have fulfilled a purpose for me. You probably have for many others and not all of us would say it is the same thing.
    Sometimes you need to let go of that deep thirst for knowledge of the purpose in your life and realize it’s there already. ” Let it be.”

    1. I hope you are right. But… Somehow, it doesn’t seem enough for me. Perhaps you’re right and I’m over-analysing everything and in doing so, shooting myself in the foot. But I want there to say something more on my gravestone than just ‘He was.” I mean, that isn’t even a grammatically complete sentence. The verb ‘to be’ is a linking verb. It needs a subject on the other side! That is my elusive purpose.

      I’ll stop there before I get too navel-gazing and annoying. 🙂

  23. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    holy crapola. There will be so much to write on your gravestone they will have to have a freaking wall to encompass it all.
    I just don’t think you realize you already have fulfilled at least one purpose: to make US think, reach, grab, enjoy, DO, give, thank, eat, drink and be merry. Just to name a very few. These are NOT insignificant and you are way ahead of a lot of people.
    Keep thinking on what your purpose is,just don’t underestimate what you have already accomplished.

What is your purpose?

Click to see allowed HTML.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <ol> <ul> <li>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.