The Modern Day Gypsy

(Originally posted 14th April, 2004)

What is that makes someone put down roots and settle in one location? Or perhaps more interestingly, what makes a person pull up their roots and spend their lives on the road?

The reason I ask is an old guy I saw in the park on Sunday morning. By the look of him, he was probably in his fifties or sixties, and of eastern Mediterranean descent (or maybe eastern European). He had an old red Toyota Lite Ace van parked by the side of the road, with the side door up and the tailgate open.

When I first saw him, he had a small hand mirror balanced on the gutter above the sliding door and he was having a shave. Clothes on hangers were dangling from the open tailgate and he had a stack of cast iron pots spread out on the picnic table nearby.

It was about that point I realised that he was, perhaps, a modern day gypsy. His van was filled with metal racks, and they looked packed full of everything this old guy needed to get by in his daily life. It was full, but in an orderly sort of way. He seemed to know where everything was.

What makes someone decide to just pack up their life in a van and head around the countryside? Me, I’ve always been a settle in one place kinda guy, liking the stability of having a place to call my own that I can go back to at the end of the working day.

The problem with that idea is that you quite often start taking where you live for granted and stop appreciating all the things that it has going for it. I guess at the moment, with me spending more time away from home than I spent at home, this is perhaps a little more obvious to me than it would have been a few months ago.

When was the last time you bothered to stop and appreciate the fact that you have a roof over your head, and saw all the good things that it has to offer? Every house – even the old run down ones – have a certain charm all of their own that you can find if you actually bother look for it.

Houses – or vans I guess – could be interpreted as a symbol of our internal lives. What does the place we live say about us? Do we want the big, modern palace with all the mod cons, or is an older, smaller place more suitable? So, do we look after it or do we let it get run down through neglect? Just about everything that we surround ourselves with is a reflection of the way that we think and the things that we believe. Sometimes looking at the external world can give surprising insights into what’s actually going on inside.

So, here’s a big shout out to the modern day gypsy of Telopea Park. My thanks for opening my eyes to something that I had perhaps forgotten about. God speed, my friend and may your days on the road be safe and enjoyable.