The sky became their canopy
The earth became their throne
And as their raiment ran to rags
They thought it nothing wrong
For earth and sky are robe enough
When you sing the Gypsy Song.
-- From Beggars to God by Bob Franke
Gypsy Rules for the Survival
The term Gypsy - our outsider's name for the Romani peoples - stirs in settled folk a feeling of nostalgia and sometimes unease. Nostalgia for their own, lost, nomadic past, whether real or imagined. Unease from xenophobia - fear of the stranger. As a consequence, the Rom have had to navigate many hostile centuries, yet largely kept their identity and cultures intact.
Live-aboards and shanty dwellers have much in common with them, to the point that we often share the Gypsy moniker. We too are mobile among those who would prefer to see us settled down. We too often have more in common among ourselves than with those ashore. We too live along a fringe; in the cracks, as it were.
The following Gypsy tips, or rules for survival/thrival appeared in a post by Ugo Bardi, plus a few gleaned elsewhere. I'll start with the bare list, which I've paraphrased, generalized, rearranged and loosely grouped in triads, then take them one by one. They're presented as 'rules', but consider them advice...
Cultivate a free spirit.
Protect your privacy.
Never stand and fight.
Live light, travel light.
Okay... let's unpack 'em a bit:
BE yourself! Don't yield to conformity. Homogeneity. The pressure to be like everyone else. To blend in. You are unique in all the world. In all the Universe. Don't trade that away for love nor money!
To do so is to impoverish yourself and the world itself.
Cultivate a Free Spirit
Dance, sing, celebrate, make love! Never lose sight of the joy of living.
It's what makes it all worthwhile. What makes living more than mere survival.
Your family - be it your partner, your children, your kin or your tribe - are your first priority. Your family is your strength and well-being.
Invest yourself in them and theirs.
Protect your Privacy
Lots of folks are curious about how we live. But be cagey about what you tell whom. Not all of those interested are your friends. Detail can be used against you as gossip, rumor or as a pretext for official action.
Loose lips sink ships!
Mis-direction and mis-representation have their place, especially when dealing with officialdom. We want to appear as though we fit within the boxes on their forms, whether or not we do. We want to appear more settled and 'legit' than in fact we are.
Smoke and mirrors, my friends.
Never Stand and Fight
When in danger, when in doubt, hoist your sails and bugger out! - Tristan Jones
Those dedicated to keeping freedom freedom-free tend to have the upper hand. To fight them is at best a full time job. At worst a losing proposition.
This is not to say that one shouldn't give due process a chance. But standing on principle come-what-may is a good way to lose one's home and possibly more.
Consider moving along before push comes to shove.
Mobility has us ready to roll on a moment's notice. Extends our range of options and access to resources. Keeps us fresh in outlook. With mobility, we are not bound to the misfortunes of one place. Nor must we suffer a bad neighbor.
If not mobile, we are sitting ducks.
Live Light, Travel Light
Don't you carry nuthin' that might be a load. Ease on down, ease on down the road. - The Wiz
To live and travel lightly keeps one focused on essentials. This good advice has been passed on from the most ancient of Wise Ones to the most successful of present-day sailors.
Take what you need and leave the rest.
Make the most of good fortune. Recognize the Opportune Moment. Act decisively when a windfall comes your way.
Strike while the iron is hot!
DIY maintains your independence. Knowledge is portable, cannot be taken from you and makes you intrinsically valuable to others. What you can do is stock-in-trade.
Overheads eat away at our substance. While we can never eliminate them entirely, we can keep them low.
The lower our overheads, the greater the return on any investment. The greater our freedom.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
We want to make full use of what we've acquired at cost. We often want to make full use of what others have neglected or abandoned.
Recycle, reuse, repurpose.
Thrifty does it...
So there you have 'em. Rules for the Road from those who've been traveling a long time gone.
Like most advice of this nature, they're for your consideration. Take 'em or leave 'em. Adapt them to your unique situation. Add to them from any source you deem fit...
And ease on down the Road.
PS. Here are the original rules from Ugo Bardi's post, Survival Tips from the Gypsies, in order presented:
- In battle, the best strategy is flight.
- Don't carry and don't use weapons.
- Cherish your mobility.
- Travel light in life.
- Cultivate creative obfuscation.
- A man's family is his refuge.
- What you learned to do yourself, can never be stolen.
- Catch the occasion when you see it.
- Be jealous of your identity.
- Be a free spirit.