Digital Culture Travel

Becoming a Virtual Citizen

August 1, 2013

I’ve been waiting to finish my first big blog about how I figured everything out and this is my careful analysis of how to be a virtual mobile worker.  My brother, the family nerd, self-proclaimed, keeps asking me have I picked out my laptop yet.  I don’t want to confess that I am still stuck on the ecosystem (Apple/Droid/Windows), because that would reveal I’m still thinking about Apple, and well, you don’t want to go there with my brother.

The truth is I am stuck in the emotion of what it all means to be virtual.  My partner and I went shopping for a backpack yesterday.  I hoped it would help her come to the realization about just how much she can carry for our three-month trip.  Staring at an 80L backpack she pleaded to the REI staff guru, “Isn’t there something bigger?”  He tried to hide his incredulity behind helpful, compassionate eyes.  “Not with wheels, Mam.”

I too am wrapping my mind around living out of a rolling backpack.  For me it offers freedom from fashion choices, but I am somewhat unique in my desire to wear the same clothes every day, just washed and pressed.

We were recently in New York for the launch of the NYC Inclusion Roundtable I co-founded with my colleague, Dr. Maria Hernandez, in partnership with Orrick and Deloitte.  The trip was ten long hot days, that included a fourteen hour drive up and back to see Niagara Falls, a Wonder of the World – check –another one off my partner’s list before we leave the U.S.  By day seven I was thinking how great it would be to get back into my own bed, and suddenly realized that for three months that statement would no longer apply.  After wandering through other countries I will settle in a country where I have never been.  There is no home.  I will be what I have claimed I have wanted for decades, a Citizen of the World.  Home will be where the heart is and mine will be sprinkled over multiple continents.

It is both terrifying and exhilarating as all great adventures should be.

As I pick up things in the apartment I wonder where they will be in a few months, who will possess them?  Will they be loved?  Everything must go.  Almost everything.  I handle some items, with a critical gaze and ask, “is it worth shipping?”  That process of keeping and letting go is a compelling analysis of who I am and what is important to me.  I did it once before.  Let go of things.  That was like taking off a winter coat.  This is like stripping down to your bra and panties.  That may be why I headed to Victoria Secret to stock up for the trip, a  completely practical place to shop for a trip through the Amazon.

And then there are the pieces of paper that make up the life of a pack rat.  The just in case files of miscellaneous stuff that might be important one day and the ones  you scramble for when in fact they do become important.  ALL PAPER MUST GO.  That’s right.  I have to live into that Paperless Future that we’ve been talking about for decades.  So I ponder Dropbox vs. and Carbonite.

I have to do this amidst reports on CNBC about digital terrorism and identity thieves.  Searching for plugs in airports and coffeeshops, muttering curses when the wifi is bad, I realize how dependent I am and will become more so, on this gift from the universe called THE INTERNET.  I pray each night for better battery life and solar miracles.  I cringe at the future painted in the television show REVOLUTION, but like a freeway wreck I can’t stop myself from watching.

I have to reduce the traces of my papered existence to move into the life that I desire.

Can I do it?  In the words of Thomas the Tank engine.  “I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can.”

Thomas Tank Engine


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  • maxmarcimov August 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Robin!

    This recent obit seems apropos: