Some personal thoughts on being a “digital nomad”.


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Humans have evolved to be nomads

Prague urban landscape. 2017
Prague urban landscape. 2017

First of all, this is my theory:

Humans have evolved to be nomads, and hunter gatherers, because life is unpredictable.

For example, before we invented agriculture and city states, we had to keep roaming, wandering, to just stay alive.

We needed to go explore, in order to have access to more food and resources.

Train station. Prague, 2017
Train station. Prague, 2017

Even as humans, being bipeds (walking on two legs)— we evolved to walk on two legs because we can walk longer distances with less fatigued, when compared to four-legged animals. Four legged animals can run faster than us, but we can out-run four-legged animals (in terms of distances). I even read something like early humans killed animals by simply chasing them around for hours, until the animals would overheat, and die.

Steak tartare. Prague, 2017
Steak tartare. Prague, 2017

I also think we evolved to become omnivores (eating both meat and plants) because our sources of food were so uncertain.

Therefore, my idea is that the natural human DNA is engineered to be a nomad, to live without stability, and to live not in just one spot.


The blessing and curse of modernity

Building. Prague, 2017
Building. Prague, 2017

Now the good thing and the bad thing is that we have modern society. We have stability and predictability. We no longer need to hunt or forage for our food. We no longer need to fear death and starvation.

Another problem: we have evolved to become homo sedentarius- we are sedentary. We sit all day. We don’t walk anymore, or long distances. Apparently our forefathers used to walk for at least 8 miles a day.

Selfie in mirror. Kyoto. 2017
Selfie in mirror. Kyoto. 2017

I know when I walk a lot, I’m in a better mood. I think better. I feel fewer thoughts of depression, and negative thoughts.

But when I sit down all day, I have back problems. I feel lethargic.

This is why nowadays, I like to work standing up. I’m still afflicted with the modern curse of not moving — but at least by standing up, I can actually put physical stress on my legs. I also find myself more productive when working while standing. Even now, I’m standing at a kitchen counter, and typing these words on IA writer on an iPad.


Why I like being a digital nomad

THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER

Cindy and I currently live as “digital nomads”— our home base is in Orange County, California — where Cindy’s family lives. But, for the most part, we are “homeless”— we live in Airbnb on the road, and stay with friends.

Why? Cindy is in dissertation mode, and can write wherever. I make money teaching workshops, and teach international and global workshops.

Cindy with red scarf. Prague, 2017 #cindyproject
Cindy with red scarf. Prague, 2017 #cindyproject

Essentially, we have chosen the digital nomad lifestyle, because we don’t like too much comfort or stability. We thrive off of randomness, new encounters, new cultural experiences, and from being on the road with few physical possessions (we fit all our life possessions in a simple north face backpack, and a black duffel bag).


My tools

Table, 2017. Shot on Leica M240
Some of my digital tools.

I’m currently doing 99% of my work on a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. I do all my writing on IA writer, process my pictures with the SD card reader and Adobe Lightroom CC, and make money via PayPal.

Cindy at work in bed. PRAGUE, 2017
Cindy at work in bed. PRAGUE, 2017

I like being a digital nomad, because I don’t have the opportunity to accumulate stuff. Rather living on the road, we accumulate experiences. And I think the secret of being “happy” is to just have interesting life experiences — that encourage you to explore, wander, challenge your thinking, and to make stuff.

I’m a workaholic, and I probably drink half a pint of espresso a day. But my personal needs are very little — all I need is coffee, WiFi, food, and water.


I don’t like owning stuff.

Tokyo, 2017 #cindyproject
Tokyo, 2017 #cindyproject

I also have realized,

Having stuff is stressful.

Stuff means having to maintain it, organize it, and pay for maintenance.

Eric Kim black background in Kyoto

We don’t own a car, or home. We don’t gotta stress about maintaining a car, or fixing a home.

This means fewer distractions on stuff, and more focus on making stuff. Making art, making poetry, making films, making photos, and making connections with others.


Happiness to me

Drinking Espresso. Madison, Wisconsin 2017
Drinking Espresso. Madison, Wisconsin 2017

I’m only happy when I’m in the flow or the zone of creation. I’m happy when I’m writing, wandering and taking pictures, when I’m teaching, or when I’m having deep conversations with loved ones. I don’t feel happy when I look at possessions.

Therefore for me, the digital nomadic lifestyle is ideal:

  1. I cannot accumulate physical possessions
  2. I am less distracted, and focus on creative work and creative production
  3. I feel less attached to physical stuff, and more attached to life affirming experiences

You must discover what works for you

The traditional path to success.
The traditional path to success.

I’m just saying that I like this digital nomadic lifestyle. It might not work for you.

Some of us like to stay at home, and don’t like the discomfort of travel. Don’t get suckered into thinking that a digital nomadic lifestyle is for everyone.

Modern photographer path to success as a photographer.
Modern photographer path to success as a photographer.

You must ask yourself,

What do I desire from life, and what is important to me, and what isn’t important to me?

What isn’t important to me:

  • Possessions
  • Stability
  • Predictability

What is important to me:

  • Flexibility
  • Freedom
  • Control over my life

Therefore, the digital nomadic lifestyle checks off all the boxes for me.


How to become a digital nomad

Imagine aperture as an eye: the more you open your aperture or eye, the more light comes in. The more you close your eye or aperture, the less light enters the camera.

If you want to be a digital nomad, you must figure out how you can make money on the internet. Either by selling products, selling services (like I do with workshops), and also by how you can keep your expenses low.

And you just must figure out, whether you really want this lifestyle, or if it is some fantasy to escape your problems back at home.

Cindy standing desk. Airbnb Amsterdam, 2017
Cindy standing desk. Airbnb Amsterdam, 2017

If you wish to have a digital nomadic lifestyle, start off by giving away your stuff, or selling your stuff. Building your own website or blog, and start to build your own personal empire of yourself. Learn entrepreneurship, and start a side hustle, or part income from your photography.

A digital nomadic lifestyle isn’t romantic. It’s fucking hard, and scary. I still am anxious about finances, and what the “future” is.

Randomness abstract by ERIC KIM
Randomness abstract by ERIC KIM

But, like Nassim Taleb, I thrive off of randomness, chaos, and unpredictability. It works for me.

What works for you?

BE BOLD,
ERIC