Encountering Life in the Wild

Growing up on drugs and religion, finding your own path and a realization that life is a series of choices. All we have to do is choose.

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My life is, and almost always has been, erratic.

From a young age I realized that things are largely supposed to be beyond our control. Listening to Operation Ivy and learning to flip skateboards around beneath my feet while soaring down stairs or over man made gaps of grass and concrete, I quickly realized that though certain aspects of our existence here in modern day America were clearly defined–graduate high school, move quickly into a field you choose at eighteen, and then work hard until you’re 65 and more or less useless to the workforce–there were people out there who realized a different possibility. Not long after, I ran away from home, unable to live under the strict regulations of my new step-dad, a state policemen in Pennsylvania.

I spent my teenage years living from couch to couch, moving in and out of my dad’s house, and experimenting with everything from heavy doses of Busch Light to acid to crack. Thankfully, the latter was not my scene, and while many of my friends who had loving families and steady warm beds got hooked on OxyContin and cocaine variants, I just kept on getting drunk and tripping. One provided an avenue to escape my problems and ensure my warmth for the night, the other expanded my senses and left me feeling like my desire to be different wasn’t so ridiculous; after all, the ability to see what is always there but overlooked and to think thoughts my brain was capable of but only on drugs proved that reality was just a deck of cards long stacked up in a specific order by society. Value the King, discard the Jokers, and keep the numbers all lesser in value than the rest.

My eyes were opened even before all of this in middle school, as a young Christian I listened to papal authorities reluctantly explain the idea of predetermination. God gives us free will, but he is all knowing, so our actions are little more than a play he’s already seen, in fact written. Nothing we do will surprise him. Any test he puts in front of us, he’ll know if we can pass or will fail it. If I told my son, jump ten feet in the air and I will love you, when I knew he could only jump five feet, am I giving him an opportunity? Or am I just a dick?

My pastor and various other adults in my church assured me that such thoughts would lead me to hell. So I decided, “Well God, I guess it’s clear, you’re a dick and I’m going to hell.” My reasoning then, and I still believed at the time that God was real, was simply that I’d rather burn with a devil who wants me than sing praise to an all powerful being who’s just using us like daytime TV entertainment.

As high school ended, I knew the work force was not for me. Not that I didn’t work, I held a variety of jobs, from pumping gas to cleaning bathrooms to stocking groceries to painting houses to doing autobody work. I just didn’t stick around any of them too long. When authority got silly, I got paid one last check and had a few weeks off in between.

Finally I decided to “get my act together”. I went to college, but on my terms, for an art degree that would be practical some day doing computer animation. I was told it was a silly degree, but those people who said that then are, each one of them, out of work today, have lost their homes, gone through divorced and are working for bare minimum wage. They were upscale store owners and real estate agents at the time. They were co soldered great successes during their time, but they relied on a huge network of possibilities out of their control to remain successful. Now all of their former success is just met with pity for how far down that ladder they’ve fallen.

Still, it’s hard not to buy into it all. I got a pretty regular office job, bought a house, had a kid. Actually, I did the first two because the last one showed up. I thought, for whatever foolish reason, that by being society I would be doing right by my son. It didn’t dawn on me then that society is what created the hell on earth I called life all of these years, and that by becoming it, I was dooming my son to the same.

I’ll get into how that transformation came to be, from 9-5er living under the rules of the land to freewheelin’ Bob Dylan style do what makes you happy and leave a small footprint, tomorrow. For today though, I can assure you that while the larger community will chastise you at first for being different, for breaking the mold, it is always out of jealousy. You see, the world doesn’t hate gypsies and radicals and free spirits, they envy us. They want to be able to travel at a moment’s notice, to think their own thoughts without feeling guilty, to be free to truly pursue happiness. Why else is rock n’ roll so popular? People love Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, everyone wants to be a rock star at some point in life. It’s just that most folks don’t have the balls to do it, or get caught up in how much easier it is to conform than to break the mold. That’s why it’s a mold, it’s meant to keep us all alike. Free thinking is dangerous for those who made the rules initially. And when people obey rules, it makes the mold makers feel like they’re losing power.

But if you break the mold and are good at it, if you stay strong and become successful, suddenly jealousy turns into admiration. We have not had many naysayers in our travels, mostly because I’ve been a very successful businessman since before these travels begun. It was only once, when business was slow and my personal relationship with an ex-girlfriend went south, that thoughts of the inadequacies of my lifestyle and parenting appeared. I conquered those issues, and the judgements ended almost as quickly.

I haven’t written much about this aspect of full-timing here because, frankly, it’s passé to me. I don’t experience it at all these days, and thinking about how strongly the world has a grip on our individual freedoms both fires me up and astonishes me. Once you become used to something, such as freedom, you take it for granted a little more each day. Talking about government conspiracies sounds childish, particularly because I think a conspiracy is something that’s hidden. The government and big business don’t even try and hide their close ties anymore, and anyone who believes this is still Thomas Jefferson’s America is sadly naive.

But I’ve realized in the past few months that many people are still wrapped up in all of this, still trying to get out from beneath the judgement of society and their god. I just hope anyone reading this will know that our life is not as it is because we are lucky. I am not a fortunate son. I am not an overachiever or better than anyone else. I simply took the appropriate steps to make it all happen. The first of which, is being comfortable with your thoughts of discontent. The next is to create an anarchy in your head where all of your thought are allowed equal right to meander through your brain. And the final step is to actually do something real about it all.

You may not desire full-time travel, but I’m willing to bet you sure as hell would like something better than the eternal threat of losing your job, house and family trying to race your way to the end of the hamster wheel. We aren’t meant for such pursuits, we are wild animals smart enough to outwit anything else on this planet, even to destroy it if we continue to choose to do so. It’s simply up to you if you’d like to be an eagle soaring above the chaos below or a rodent stuck in a plastic cage you’ve been told is success.