First of all I want to start by saying I am not normal. I have tried doing “normal” it never worked out. I have given up on it. I don’t know why I tired so hard. I had clues early on. Even as a small child I was much more drawn to the world of living things than to the world of machines. I even spent several years of my childhood as a dog. I have concluded that I am some sort of throw back to Pleistocene times, when everyone on Earth lived as a Nomadic hunter gather.
In today’s world of endless identity subcultures, people can seemingly decide to be whatever they choose. Some people think they are a small furry animals. Probably somewhere there is an internet chat group, for people who identify as egg plants or lawn furniture.
But that’s not what I am saying.
What I am saying, is that what passes for “normal” in 21st century America, is a bit of an anomaly, in the evolutionary scheme of things. Human beings have been around for a million years. During 99% of that time, we lived in small bands, as nomadic hunter gatherers, surrounded by wild nature. Its only been the last 10,000 years, since the dawn of agriculture, which started us all on a trajectory which has resulted in most humans living primarily in cities, punching a clock as wage slaves, surrounded by grids of concrete, steel and electrical wires, relying on domesticated plant and animal bi-products wrapped in plastic for sustenance. (actually this current extreme state of alienation from nature, is arguably less than 100 years, since the Industrial revolution)
There have been several revolutions. Agricultural revolution, Industrial revolution, most recently a digital revolution. Each revolution has resulted in further alienation from nature. Embedded, as we are in this technological culture, experience is more and more electronically mediated. This alienated way of life has arguably, taken a toll on human beings, in terms, or cancer rates, diabetes, mental illness, as well as taking a huge toll on the Earth’s biosphere itself, in terms of deforestation, extinction, pollution and most recently climate change.
In light of these negative consequences. Some writers, have referred to these developments as the “myth of progress.” Meaning “progress” is not actually progress. This critique is not new. Basically the whole history of nature writing, from Thoreau and John Miur onward, has contained within it a critique of civilized life.
I was influenced by some of these “Civilization skeptics” early on, such as Jack London, Farley Mowat, artists such as Charlie Russel, and also some anti-establishment writers such as Ken Kesey. I include anti authoritarian writers, because being an adult, and making a living by being told what to do, is equally anomalous in the scope of human evolution as traveling by car. Nomadic hunter gatherers, who survive today such as the Hadza, are inveterate anarchists and 100% egalitarian with no social classes.
They write about this topic of which I have been obsessed my whole life. They approach it from different angles. John Zerzan is apolitical philosopher. Jared Diamond is a Scientist, Jaques Ellul and Ivan Illich are theologians. They explore issues of domestication, oppression and symbolic culture. All conclude that we were better off living closer and in greater harmony to nature, rather than using technology to impose our will on others and dominate nature.
I could boil it down to a question. “How can I become a wild human again?”
One way I have come to approximate living as a wild human is through hiking. In 2016, I completed the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. I have also gone on multi day canoe trips, and several other back packing excursions. I really enjoy spending weeks at a time in nature, sleeping on the ground when the sun sets, getting up with the birds, and basically getting my body back in touch with natural rhythms.
I have worked lots of different jobs, my favorite was probably, working outdoors as an organic gardener. But most jobs have been in cities and suburbs, embedded within this alienating synthetic landscape, I have described. With those jobs, every chance I got, weekends, and vacations, I have taken every chance to escape into the wild to reconnect. refresh and feel whole and sane enough to find the strength to go back.
I have had various money making ideas over the years, but I have concluded that life is now. I can’t make money in civilization in order to save up to be able to live in the wild. I need to go to the woods now, then figure out a way to make it work financially.
I think everyone is going to have to figure out a way to live in closer to harmony to nature soon. So I decided I will scout things out and report back to anyone interested from the wild. I have decided to hike the Pacific Northwest Trail this summer. This blog will record my journey.