My goal in life is to walk away from Civilization and become a full-time hunter-gatherer-horticulturalist. To walk away from civilization means a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, dropping out of high school was one step towards dropping out of civilization. Refusing to go to college was another. Refusing to work for someone else for a living is another. Yet, for every step I take I feel as though there is something else that gets in my way, another pair of chains I must figure out how to get out of. This week it is two pair; desire for celebrity and running wilderness schools.
Acquiring material possessions is one of the ways we view success in Civilization. Those material possessions generally have to do with “earning” pieces of paper such as a report card, high school diploma, college degree, marriage certificate, automobile title, property deed or simply a paycheck. I have none of these.
There are other ways we view success in Civilization, such as fame or celebrity status. I was able to walk away from material possessions and bullshit certificates, but somehow I have been blind to the celebrity trap. I know that this has to do with the feeling of having to prove myself to my family and friends and culture. Even though they never asked me to prove anything, I wanted to prove that even though I didn’t get a high school diploma I was still “successful.” Of course, I hadn’t realized until recently that this form of “success” was still dreamed up by Civilization, for Civilization.
It seems as though these forms of success come from approval not from ones self or family, but from strangers. Grades are given by teachers, paychecks are given by bosses and fame is the sum of people who you don’t know, but who know you. Why is it considered successful to have strangers know who you are? We are constantly seeking approval from strangers. In place of a diploma I have newspaper clippings. “See! They write about me in the papers! I’m worth writing about!” Really though… worth what? To who? To the people who matter to me? Do they need articles to see my worth? I don’t think what strangers think about me should matter… I don’t think this anymore.
Of course there are ways of justifying the quest for celebrity. By telling myself it is for the purpose of “spreading the message,” about collapse, sustainability, primitive skills, etc. But is it really? Why should I care about spreading the message to strangers? What about my immediate family and friends? I would rather focus on how I relate to them and what I can do for them? Is my behavior truly justified? Even in the case of spreading sustainability, is there a better way than hearing it from your friends and family whom you know and trust, and what better way to spread information then to your friends and family? It seems to me that this justification is only one a martyr would use. Why sacrifice time you could spend maintaining your current relationships, by seeking approval from people you have no relation to? I think that this justification is simply made out of fear for leaving the comforts we have grown accustomed to in Civilization. At least, I know that’s where the fear came from in me.
I recently decided against doing the Urban Scout “Sunday School.” Why teach classes on wilderness survival? Is it for the money? If my goal is to hunt and gather and not need money than isn’t spending time running classes to get money hypocritical? What if I spent that time hunting and gathering with friends instead? Then I wouldn’t need money. It’s a paradox. It’s civilizations mythology furiously spinning it’s web trying to keep my psyche enslaved.
So why teach? Do I justify it the same way I do celebrity? That I do it to “spread the message?” Why spread it to strangers? Why not just invite your friends and family along with you and teach them? I think the idea of “wilderness schools,” like celebrity, are a distraction and fear of truly abandoning the civilized economy.
Another distraction of wilderness schools is taking classes from them. I still look at class schedules for schools like Tom Browns Tracker School. What I have noticed of many students of these programs, and in my own experience as a student, the students who go to these wilderness schools become dependent on them. Rather than seeking out relationships with people who practice primitive skills, we pay people money to teach us without having to build a relationship with them. I know everything I need to know at this point. What I need now is to get outside and start communicating with the land and start eating from it. I need to just do it. I’ve done the training, all that is left is the jump. I believe these moments in life are when the demons of fear, ridicule, self-doubt and distraction are the most powerful.
The only other justification for creating your own school, is escaping wage slavery. Becoming your own boss. The problem I have come across with every wilderness school is that they can never make enough money, so you spend so much time trying to get students and market your classes that you don’t have much time for hunting and gathering. Again, it becomes a paradox. At this point, I am lucky and have enough money and resources to live simply and have plenty of time for hunting and gathering. If I ever need money, I won’t ever need much. That’s one trap I may have to face again some day.
How many traps does Civilization have?
Do I really need a Myspace account? Why? Would I talk to all of my 850 friends without it? Do I know all of those people? Is it a way for me to stay in touch, or a way to feel like I am gaining Celebrity by “spreading the message.” Even if it is a way to keep in “touch,” is it an intimate way? Do I want to interact with people through the abstraction of a computer? No. (I just deleted it! 4 years of work on that stupid thing!) Cut the fat.
Do I really need a cell phone? Remember when you had all of your friends numbers memorized? Remember the freedom from constant surveillance? Remember making plans in advance? Do I really need people to be able to get a hold of me at anytime, anywhere? Do I really need to get a hold of people anytime, anywhere? What has this done to my psyche? Without a phone, without millions of acquaintances and strangers at the tips of our fingers, how would the relationships immediately around us change? While the quantity of relationships gets lower, does the quality of your relationships increase?
I think this blog is another trap to keep me from actually living the way I “want.” I think this is all an elaborate distraction dreamed up by my own inner civilized mythology, to keep itself alive. To keep me in ensnared in it. Even now my girlfriend, Sasha, is badgering me into getting off the computer. She keeps coming over and kissing me… but I’m still here typing… why? Who am I really documenting this project for? Do I need to document if for myself? No, I’m living it. Do I need to document it for my immediate relations? No, they’ll hear about it from me directly, or through mutual friends. Then it’s obvious that I’m documenting it for strangers, so that I can feel famous with the justification of “making a difference.” What makes a bigger difference; quantity or quality?
My view of success is much different these days. How did hunter-gatherers view success? From what I know, success to hunter-gatherers was a full belly and a happy family and environment. That is how I want to view success and/or achievement these days. Not by the number of hits my website has or the number of blogs I fill with mindless dribble but by relating to the people and land around me. What does this mean for the documentation of my project? I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, I don’t want to be anybodies hero but my own, my families and the land and it’s inhabitants that share it with me.
I have to let go of fear, let go of distractions and just do it.
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