Simple Life Lessons from Nomadland

I don’t think I would ever want to live as a nomad. Maybe for a month, just to get a taste of it in some delayed honeymoon-expedition across Europe. But that’s it; no more. I would rather sit back on a cushy, wooden recliner — a classic Wodehouse on one hand and a glass of Chardonnay on the other.

But after watching Nomadland recently (which won Best Picture in this year’s Oscars), it seems we homebodies have some precious lessons to learn as well:

1. Only a few things are necessary.

And they can actually fit in an RV. A place to sleep in, some food and water, and a toilet. Or, as I call them: bed, bites, and bucket (*wink wink*). So as our houses become larger and more comfortable, remember that sometimes we’re really just creating needs for ourselves. The paid streaming app we forget to use, the second laptop, or the third. To adapt Strunk and White: “Omit needless cords!”

2. Catch the sunset.

A lot of the scenes in Nomadland happen during twilight. And the characters always seem appreciative of the lilac-orange sky. They would bring out their foldable chairs and bathe in the sky’s otherworldly glow. And I think this is something we should seek as well, even if we’re in the middle of a bustling city. A little sight of nature goes a long way for our nature-deprived spirits.

3. Detachment is a virtue.

Perhaps the deepest and most difficult lesson I learned from the film is on developing the ability to let go when it’s time. The parting of friends or lovers. The death of loved ones. The acceptance of broken things. These can be tragic, but they should not be the end of the world for us. What the nomads can teach us is how our life on earth…is actually nomadic! We travel through time and space, meeting people, leaving people, meeting them again, and finally we die — hopefully happily. We don’t stay put. So let’s always make the “journey” count and enjoy it.


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