The Uncommon Path
By: Emma Daigle
Photos: Matt Kienzle
I haven’t signed a lease or owned a phone for more than three years now. Why? Simply because I never know where I will be in a couple of weeks.
Call it marginal – I’ve been going against the grain before I even knew my path and choices were uncommon. It wasn’t a conscious “rebellion.” I was actually very reserved and shy as a child. I remember being in art class and the teacher asking us to paint a Laurentian forest surrounded by water that was in front of us. To me, it looked like the trees were isolated, like on an island. At the end of the course, I had a tropical island filled with palm trees and a raging sea. I recollect not even thinking twice while painting this and just letting my imagination tweak the “reality” in front of me … and this would happen in almost everything I did. Teachers would tell my parents that the world inside my head seemed more appealing to me than the “reality” and what was going on.
What is reality but a personal perception? I personally have never been able to do the same thing every day, or simply the same things as most, for that matter. And why should I? There’s so much pleasure in feeling like you are the first person to have a thought or an idea … or a way of life. Conforming to a 9-to-five job isn’t a size that fits all. I’m constantly oozing with ideas, places I want to experience, things I want to see come to life. Passion. My being thrives on birthing newness, and I find that by seeing and experiencing, I get deeper knowledge and insights to create. Traveling really feeds this appetite for expanding myself.
I am proud to say that I’ve followed this uncommon path and for four years now have been living on the road and out of my board bag – which contains more boards and art supplies than clothing.
This lifestyle started after I graduated from college. I was eager to see everything – the good and the not-so-good. I wanted to go everywhere to see how it would feel and what I would learn- and boy, did I learn. I fractured my back that summer and gave up hope of starting my session at university … and still haven’t gone. Since then I have learned to trust the process and let things happen. For example, this injury brought me to my yoga practice, which I now teach and is one of the things I can’t live without – a few of the reasons being that it keeps my back/body happy and helps support this rambling lifestyle.
I’ve been open to the unknown, open to everything thrown my way. I let my curiosity and passions guide me, and I now live a whirlwind of a life that takes me to all corners of the world. It sure is beautiful to take life one day at a time.
But let’s face it; life on the road is sometimes hard. For instance, not having a home. It is a blessing for a “free soul,” but a curse on some days. How? Well, I know I get the comment, “I wish I could do what you are doing” pretty often, so I’ll give you a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes life to prove that “You too can do it.”
The recipe is as simple as this, starting with the most common question: work. I teach yoga and do art. That’s my thing, and it so happens that those are two “jobs” I can do wherever and whenever. I’ve taken on a load of odd jobs to accompany the two, all depending on where I am.
With all that said, being on the road has taught me a lot. Here’s a little traveler’s insight for y’all:
- Pack light. You’ll only end up wearing a third of what you bring or what’s easily accessible on top of your bag. Warm clothing or extra clothing? You can always thrift store mission it. The perks? You’ll end up with a killer selection.
- Flying? Bring the heaviest articles in your carry-on, aka wheels. Take apart your boards and carry the planks strapped together in your hands. Wear your biggest clothing articles. Voila! You won’t have to pay for an overweight bag.
- Simplicity is key. In everything.
- Don’t overthink things. What is meant for you will never miss you.
- Be ready for the unexpected. It will happen.
I guess what I am trying to say is find what makes your heart beat faster – whether it’s a life filled with surprises and discoveries or a 9-to-5 job you love. Find just that and live it full speed till your body falls to pieces.
I wouldn’t change this crazy way of life for the world. Happy trails.
Special thanks to Michael Brooke of Concrete Wave Magazine