I replied to a mental health thread on Reddit, and I thought my response was so spot-on that I should record it here as well:
I think a lot of modern “mental health” problems arise out of our separation from Nature. We weren’t meant to live this way; our bodies don’t understand our urban environments.
We used to have very few, much more serious, problems. Eat, sleep, find shelter, protect the family, reproduce. That was about it. Now we have many more, but less serious, problems. Schmoozing with coworkers, impressing the boss, career progression, vehicle maintenance, extracurricular activities, plumbing that always breaks, more laws than can be counted, etc. Problems are interpreted as threats, so they trigger our fight-or-flight response. Neither is appropriate, so the threats go unsolved, and manifest over time as anxiety. Continue reading “Mental Health”
Revisiting some of my favorite passages from Walden, and explaining what they mean to me.
“When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced.”
Live below your means – way below. Most of us in Western societies spend every penny we earn. Few save much if any, and almost nobody would entertain the thought of living as if we made a fraction of what we do. If we can easily afford a $2000/mo apartment, we figure that’s what we need to live in.
Many vandwellers have gotten the idea: They’ll stay at their job, making say $2000 a month, but they’ll only spend $500 of it. The rest goes right into savings. These people don’t necessarily have a problem when they lose or quit a job, knowing they’ll be just fine. It’s a term you may have heard called “F.U. money”. Whether you live on minimum wage or have a six digit income, your expenses can remain constant and low. Continue reading “The Wisdom of Walden, Part 2”
I speak, of course, of Thoreau’s book, which may as well be the Bible to vandwellers and boondockers. I’d like to revisit some of my favorite passages, and explain what they mean to me.
“But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool’s life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before.”
Men labor under a mistake. Time is money. You don’t pay for things with dollars; you pay for them with hours of your life. Every dollar earned and spent is for that much of your life you should rightly have had to yourself. But instead you decided to trade it away. And for what? Usually, for creature comforts and luxuries that only take you further away from Nature – From how we were meant to live.
Almost every cent is wasted on fleeting moments or things that will become garbage. The money you spend on air conditioning and entertainment may as well be burned. You can adjust your climate by traveling to where it’s nicer, and you can entertain yourself with a book. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of free (or no-cost-added) books just a few clicks away.
In the end, you can’t take any of it to your grave. You’ll just leave a house full of garbage to your children. It’s more a mess to clean up than it is an inheritance, and they’ll be remembering you with every trinket they sell or throw out. The pain is extended at least until the estate is closed. By living a minimalist lifestyle, you can save them that; and you can save yourself the waste of collecting the trinkets in the first place. Continue reading “The Wisdom of Walden”
In our vans again. Just can’t wait to get in our vans again. The life we love is in the desert with our friends. And we can’t wait to get in our vans again.
In our vans again. Goin places that most haven’t been. Goin places we may never go again. And we can’t wait to get in our vans again.
Rubber tramps again. Like a band of gypsies we go down to Quartzsite. We’ll see Bob again. We’ll share our tales at campfires in the night time. Warm fire time.
Well our vans are small. We have no spaces left upon the wall. But they’re are homes and we’re happy as can be. Our vans are how we’re living oh so free.
Burn that van again. Like a blazing symbol it lights up the night sky. And we all will cheer. Because simple pleasures seem to be the best ones with good friends.
Burn that van again. Just can’t wait to burn up that van again. It marks the end of our stay here in Quartzsite town. But next year we’ll be coming back again. And we can’t wait to get in our vans again.
If you’re gonna live in your vehicle, you need to park it somewhere. If you’re planning to do a lot of traveling across the US, you’ll need to know which land is legal to “camp” on, when, and for how long. Finally, a big part of the point of all this is to save money, so you want somewhere free. Fortunately, free parking is available almost anywhere in the western half of the continental US. When you go to explore the eastern half, it gets a lot harder.
You may find yourself with lots of time on your hands; even more than you’re used to. Some of you will therefore easily become bored. Here are a few ideas to help get you through the “boring” parts.
Firstly, if you have the means and the flexibility, you should be traveling. The world has countless amazing places to explore. But you can’t be exploring all the time. Continue reading “How to Spend Your Time”
After espousing some of the advantages of van dwelling, it seemed important to balance the picture with the downsides. Every decision in life carries risk — otherwise it wouldn’t really be a decision — And it’s important to do our cost/benefit analyses along the way. After a major decision is made, it’s also important to review the results and ensure they were what you expected.
As with any lifestyle, van dwelling certainly isn’t for everyone. Especially when you don’t have the time to plan things out, if you don’t have an ongoing source of income, if you have little or no savings, or if your research was incomplete, you may find the results very different from what you expected. Continue reading “Why not van dwelling?”
Humans have a tendency to pursue the familiar and comfortable. We find our way into a life that provides a seemingly reasonable compromise between happiness and security, dig ourselves into a rut, put down roots, and wait a few decades for death to find us. Some of us tend to move around and do it several times, but the pattern is the same. In doing so, we basically throw our hands in the air and declare “Good enough.” While people have the right to pursue happiness, at some point, they just stop doing so. This is an antipattern that demands fixing.
Why do we move from place to place every few years or decades? Because we get bored with that place. We pick a new location, tell ourselves we’re going to explore it and see what it really has to offer. Ultimately, however, we end up right back in the same rut we just came from, and probably with more debt. The cycle itself prevents us from pursuing happiness, let alone finding it. Continue reading “Why van dwelling?”