The Wisdom of Walden, Part 2

Continued from Part 1

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”

The Wisdom of Walden

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”

Travel Trailer Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • 4-Wheel Drive (depending on what’s towing it)
  • “Right” size; big or small depending on needs
  • Good price, depending on the size
  • Can stand up in it
  • Easy maintenance
  • Easy to set up and break camp
  • Don’t need to break camp to go somewhere
  • Fairly good accessibile locations and maneuverability (especially on the smaller ones)
  • Great extensibility and customizability, and many choices
  • Decent ease of transition
  • Good tank capacities (usually)
  • Good hookups (usually)
  • Simple and common
  • Widely favored, so good community support

Continue reading “Travel Trailer Pros and Cons”

Why van dwelling?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feLbUma4ymE

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?”