It has been a week since I began my Green Bay apartment lease and my twelve month incarceration. I have not had much time to dwell on my new situation. I have been busy this week moving and unpacking.
You Call This Minimalism?!
After all of the stuff I got rid of in the past year and a half, it blows my mind that I still own so much shit. I suppose a changing perspective has something to do with that. It really isn’t that much stuff for living in an apartment, which is what I was planning for when I got rid of my stuff. I wasn’t thinking that I would some day want a life that’s even more simplistic.
On the bright side – being apart from the possessions that I left behind in storage for two months has given me clarity about what I can live without. It should be much easier for me to get rid of more stuff between now and when I move next.
Since I’ve been busy moving and unpacking, I’m excusing myself for not having begun a job search or building my new business. But the truth is – I’m procrastinating because my thoughts are consumed with how I will live in the future.
Home in The Forest
Back when I was in the PacNW stretch spanning from Jasper, to Ho Rainforest, to Mt. Hood, I had forged a bond with nature. I knew as early as then that I wanted to maintain some connection with Nature. But it wasn’t until the trip was over that I realized how emotionally-dependent I had become on the Forest.
There’s a story from the road that I shared on Facebook but apparently didn’t share here. So here it is…
As I got in to Colorado this morning, and was headed toward the Colorado National Monument, I drove past this elderly gentleman who was hiking down the highway. He was waving and smiling at every single car that passed him by. It was sort of a goofy and silly scene to watch, but it made me smile and laugh.
A few kilometers later, I drove past a wagon that had three bales of hay dressed up like minions. Again, I smiled and laughed.
It occurred to me then that my shit attitude and crab ass mood were probably more a reaction to the job I hated and not something intrinsic to my personality. These past few weeks, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m happier. I’m smiling more. I am laughing more. I’m enjoying myself.
I needed this trip way more than I ever realized.
I was genuinely happy when I was on the road. Since returning to Wisconsin last month, however, much of that joy and laughter has disappeared. And since returning, I have already made two trips to Nicolet National Forest to recharge. I get genuinely depressed if I remain in Green Bay for too long.
It’s no longer enough for me to be “location independent”. Nor is it enough for me to keep one foot in the wild. I feel pretty confident right now that long-term happiness means finding a way to live in the Forest.
Obstacles to Living in the Woods
Before I get carried away on this topic – I’m not suggesting that this dream to live in the woods is set in stone. I know it is likely that I will wind up settling for some sort of compromise, and that’s fine. But as the saying goes – aim for the stars and you might hit the room. I want to fully acknowledge and embrace these desires so that I make decisions that point me, at least, in the correct direction.
I know that it is possible for people to live in a self-sustaining manner in nature. I’ve seen documentaries detailing the lives of other people who have chosen such lives. Plus, I’ve lived this life (or at least a close approximation to it) for the past two months. But the life I’ve lived for the past two months is not sustainable in the long term. Here are the obstacles…
The most important things to consider are survival skills. I don’t have them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m more skilled now than I was before my trip began. But most of my basic needs were shored up by my vehicle and the money I had saved. I can’t hunt or forage for food – I need a grocery store. I relied upon my vehicle for electricity and shelter, and to travel to sources of water. My vehicle provided air conditioning to battle the sun and heat. And of course, running the vehicle requires gasoline and the money to buy it.
If I went full-Tarzan, I’d need to learn how to find my own food and water. I’d need to move to a climate without major weather extremes. I’d also have to wean myself off my need for electricity and internet access.
The single biggest legal issue is finding land to live on. I don’t know if there is any land anywhere on this planet that isn’t owned by a private individual, corporation, or government. Living on private land is trespassing. Living on public land usually involves obeying government regulations. I was lucky on my trip that most public land regulations are not well enforced. But there’s a big difference between doing this for five weeks (in which I’m seldom in the same place for more than one night) and living in the same place for the rest of my life.
Some of the smaller things you’ve got to consider include the consequences of not having a legal address. Postal mail, banking, insurance, taxes and even employment are all dependent on having a legal address or dependent on each other. I’m not saying that you can’t live completely removed from society and without a job or money. You certainly can. Homelessness is a fairly common phenomenon. But figuring this stuff out might be the most difficult to navigate. Most people do not choose homelessness. They’re in that state involuntarily, are actively seeking employment and housing, and have places to go for assistance.
Legal consequences are important to me for no greater reason than the fact that if I do something radical like this – I want to be left alone. I do not want to spend my life constantly harassed by police and other enforcement officials.
The Haunter Conflict
Working as a haunter or running my own haunt business is a double-edged sword. It’s something I want to do – it’s my passion. But let’s talk about this work in terms of living in the Forest.
On the upside: Employment or a business generates income. Income allows me to afford things like groceries, fuel, clean water, and more.
On the downside: Doing haunt work requires me to hold on to more possessions and have space to store them – tools, supplies, and adequate work space. That makes me less mobile and restricts not only where I can live, but how I can live. Moreover, doing this work requires me to pay more expenses in order to operate such a business – like electricity, internet access, insurance, and access to banking and postal services – things I wouldn’t necessarily need if I wasn’t doing that work. In short, earning money will require me to spend more money. It’s sort of like how someone who is unemployed won’t take just any old job if the new job doesn’t pay enough to cover the commuting costs that come with a new job.
One Hell of a Puzzle
Don’t misunderstand – I have answers to some of these issues. Not every thing I’ve mentioned here is unsolvable. In fact, quite a bit of it is easily solvable. Even more problems can be satisfied through compromise.
But there are a lot of issues and moving parts, and trying to figure out the right combination of solutions to construct a complete and viable plan – well, that’s the trick. That’s the puzzle I have to solve. I’ve got a 12 month lease that keeps me in Green Bay. So – just like in March 2016 when I knew I had about a year to figure out what I would do after I retired, I now have about a year to solve this puzzle and figure out a new life going forward.