I have this theory that there are two kinds of people, Roots people and Nomads. Roots people want to live in a place they are thoroughly familiar with. They want steady long lasting relationships and regular predictable activities. Nomads on the other hand feel restless when they are in one place too long. They begin to look for a new places where they can see new things and meet new people. When Nomadic people go on vacation, they are sizing up the area as a possible place to move to.
Katie and I have definitely been Nomads throughout our 30 years of marriage. We’ve lived in about 20 different homes in 7 different cities. Each time we moved, we were both ready and excited. Roots people, as hard as they try, have trouble understanding our nomadic ways, but other Nomads have no trouble at all. Roots people think we Nomads don’t know what we want and are always looking for "it" in other places. The grass is always greener somewhere else. Just when we start to settle in and make a life that looks attractive to them, we ruin everything by moving. If Roots people complain to Nomads about their neighbors or their jobs, immediately the advice given will be, “Why don’t you move?” or “Why don’t you quit?”. Of course, that usually isn’t the best advice. To Nomads, Roots people seem stuck.
To my knowledge this theory has no empirical data to back it up. It is just something I’ve been formulating in my head. Probably most of us are not strictly either Roots people or Nomads, but a blending of the two, and maybe at different times in our lives we are more one than the other.
I first started thinking about this theory when telling a friend of mine about my upcoming retirement and possible move to Arizona. He liked the idea of retirement, but was having trouble understanding the moving part. He had spent years establishing himself in the community. He leads a drumming group and sets up and runs the weekly folk dancing group. His family gets together several times a year with other families and has a big picnic. He lives close to his extended family. He has cultivated a private practice over several years. He likes the mechanic he takes his car to. He likes his doctor and has finally found a dentist he can tolerate. So when I talked about moving to Arizona, his interpretation was,“It would be like having to start my life all over again.”
But to me the move signified a fresh start. We would meet new people and be able to travel to new and interesting places. It would be fun and challenging to live in a different house. We could set it up in a southwestern style with bright colors and Mexican accessories. Sure we have friends and family that we will miss. But they will be able to visit us in this new and exciting place.
You’ve probably seen the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol. Within the white is a black dot and within the black is a white dot. The theory seems to hold true for Nomads and Roots people. There are times when we, as Nomas, are a little envious of Roots people. They get together with friends they’ve known for a long time doing familiar activities. They are able to talk about shared past experiences. When someone gets sick or dies, they all show up in support. They feel part of their community and know how it has evolved and changed over time.
Roots people probably have moments of envy for us as well. How we can pickup and move without a lot of fretting, anxiety or hassle. The way we are able to make changes in our lives more easily. Our life style enables us to experience new friends, places and activities. But heaven help a Roots person who is married to a Nomad and vice versa. It can’t be easy.
Ultimately Nomadic people and Roots people need to learn to tolerate and appreciate each other. Like Venus and Mars, we need to validate each others' different perspectives. But, you Roots people do seem a little bit stuck!