I find returning home from my regular jaunts to be a jarring experience. I can feel the gears of my life away grinding with those of my “regular” life. When this first began to happen I used to think it was simply a case of jet-lag or post holiday blues but over time I have come to view it more as a clash between what we should be doing and we we actually do.
I believe that humans were designed to wander and explore, evolution simply did not prepare us physically or emotionally for a sedentary life. When I am in a new city I prefer to walk, I am fortunate in that I tend to be able to find my way around anywhere and wandering doesn’t concern me. I am not perturbed by the feeling of being mildly lost. Walking is the mechanism by which we wandered all over the globe and aimless wandering is a wonderful old Victorian notion to cleanse the soul. It is also our default setting for locomotion and the world makes more sense when you walk through it as opposed to drive past it.
Unfortunately, society depends us being settled but at the same time it extracts a cost from us that we may largely be unaware of until we are placed in a position where we feel this odd feeling of disconnect, of not belonging. I think much psycho-babble is attached to this feeling of angst but I think it is as simple as we are all doing something we were not designed to do. Sitting still is not a basic human function yet it is something we are forced to do. Anytime we are forced to do something we dont want to do we feel a sense of displacement. Our subconscious feels a sense of confinement more acutely than does our conscious mind.
This juxtaposition in life’s true direction versus its enforced direction I think is at the heart of the discontent that many feel. Whilst we might think of this as a new problem it is actually quite old. Dante Alighieri in his The Divine Comedy makes mention of this.
Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard–so tangled and rough
When I first read this many decades ago I though he must have been referring to what affluent first worlders call a mid life crisis but now I take a different view. He is harking back to the notion that humans are wanderers and explorers and that we lose our direction. The journey whilst it has a metaphorical component is also physical – our movement through life is both temporal and physical. And it the physical we often deny.
This is why I think trading appeals to so many of us. It generates a sense of freedom – a notion that we can do it from anywhere at anytime. The engagement with the market is at our own timing and on our own terms. We can in essence wander in and out whenever we want. Our movement is not at the behest of someone else and it not set according to their timetable. The nomad in us is fulfilled as a trader.