The Dangerous Person's Guide To Camping Alone

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 13 Jul 2022


I came across a video on Bitchute tonight, dramatically titled "SOLO Camping: SUICIDE -- Don't Do It!"  The title demanded my attention, so I clicked on it.  The contents of the video were pleasantly disappointing, like a comfortable chair with bad upholstery.  Check it out here:

a060b0cd6073be5257730533a7d1d229c50307f1f5b1a7dcb1208e2c5435202f.jpg

I lived in cars & vans for 15 years.  On & off.  I had a million jobs in that time, and there were many seasons in which I'd crash on a buddy's loveseat for a month or 2, or at some chick's house, or spend a week in a flophouse.  But on and off, I lived in cars and vans for 15 years. 

The reason is simple.  My first 2 years living in L.A., I didn't have a car.  I was taking the bus from Silverlake to my telemarketing job in Hollywood every day.  Then, a rich friend gave me her old car.  L.A. opened up for me.  Things that used to take half a day, took less than an hour.  Numerous areas of the city which previously weren't worth bothering to travel to, were now within my reach.  Quickly, I realized I could get a lot more done if I didn't have to wake up at dawn every day and get on the bus to talk on the phone for 6 hours, wasting my voice, before waiting all day and into the evening to go to a show at 9pm and sing with a tired, used-up voice, 18 hours after waking up, so I could get up in 5 or 6 hours and do it all over again.  I saw my car as a way of liberating myself to spend more time on my music.

So I moved into it.

And it worked.  It was rough, but in fact I did get a lot more done.  Writing, promotion, rehearsal.  I'll never forget my first night, parked on a hill in some residential neighborhood facing downtown.  It was uncomfortable, and rough.  But I got through it.

Cars are surprisingly-good vocal isolation chambers.  Singing into a windshield while driving down the freeway is a great way to practice.  The sound bounces off the windshield, only a few feet from your face, and you get a good reflection and solid sound, and can keep yourself in shape, just going to the dollar store to buy toothpaste and a loaf of bread. 

I sang along with Elvis tapes I'd bought at Amoeba Records in Hollywood.  Elvis is a great vocal coach.  I used to call him the "Pavarotti of Rock & Roll."  I have since fallen away from my Elvis fandom, but no matter what anybody says about his hypocrisy, occult beliefs, and false Christianity, the man could sing.  There were things he did on those tapes that I could never do, and still can't do.  So if you want to learn to sing, put on your Elvis tape, hit the freeway, and let it fly.  No one will hear you.  You can embarrass yourself without fear.  And even if they do, the heck with 'em.  This is L.A.  Everyone is crazy here.  Proceed without shame.  Like an idiot, if you please.

Why not:

I lived in my car in L.A. for the better part of a year before heading east to Baltimore to see about a chick.  That's a whole 'nother story for another time.

When it was over, I went back to L.A. to become a movie extra and do it all again.  I was instantly impressed by how wrong L.A. felt on arrival, but stayed for a year and a half anyway.  I became a movie extra, drove around in circles, and met some of the best friends I've ever had in my life.  We made the music video for "The Black Dahlia" in that time, still the best in my music video-ography.  We filmed the first and last scenes on the corner where they actually found the body, which was bleak and empty at the time, but which is a nice neighborhood now.  Or was in 2005 when we shot it.  Check it out:

The scene near the end, where I see "The Black Dahlia" talking to another guy at the bar, was particularly amusing to shoot.  There was no real "crew;" the entire production consisted of me, my 2 actor friends, and the director Thad who was also filming with a handheld camera.  We filmed at a bar way north in the Valley, Sunland or someplace like that, and due to the stripped-down nature of the production, my leather jacket, and the way "The Dahlia" was dressed while talking to the black guy, everybody in the place assumed we were filming the non-sexual part of a porno.  There were a couple Latino gangsters whose bad-ass cholo gangster car was parked unlocked and open on the street, and they kept asking me if they could be in the movie.  They thought I was the director, presumably because of my jacket.  They kept saying, "hey man, can we be in the movie?"

It was funny.  We kept telling them the truth, that this was just a music video, but they didn't believe us.

There was no reason to believe us.  The San Fernando Valley is the world's largest producer of porn.  Or was in 2005, when we shot the video.  And probably still is.

c59e454e6fd8abbc79b213c18dbe3d6df3a9dd4c2464e423f0e4c1a351971450.jpg

It didn't take long to get the shots, and we were out of there before long.  As we left, the bartender summoned me, and gave me a huge canister of lube the size of an artillery shell with a wry, knowing smile.  It was a huge piece of slippery, unexploded ordnance.  I thanked him, and we drove up to the Angeles Crest Highway to film the murder scenes.

The rest is history.  Or will be in 2005, when we finally finish shooting it.

f79af31d1eded85562c40456151d0fd29e8e7f23d4283e7471d899e0f662cee9.png

Fun, ghostly fact:  I took a chick to the corner of 39th & Norton to show her where they found Elizabeth Short's body (she wanted to see it), and asked her if she could tell which corner of the intersection they found it on.  Northwest, Southeast, etc.  Immediately, she pointed to the right place.  I don't remember which corner it was now, and it's possible she looked it up beforehand, but I don't think so.  She could tell.

I don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe in spirits.  Not of dead people, but of demons.  Something was still hanging around in the spot where Elizabeth Short's body was dumped.  The girl I was with sensed it immediately.

Creepy.

216712e2157ea7aa32f1fd31209d393e58daf3fc80e0db2545cb1a62a13502de.jpg

So, what does this have to do with camping alone?  How is this a guide to camping dangerously in a state of crumpled unaccompaniment?

It's not.  So far, this article contains no information whatsoever about the best way to survive solo camping.  Frankly, the topic makes me flinch.  I've done too much of it.  I've spent too much time reading books from the free pile at the library by flashlight in the back of a cold, dark van as the only form of entertainment, to find any personal interest in illuminating the uninitiated in the best ways of surviving the dull, exhausting horrors of living in a van.  In fact living in a van destroyed reading for me.  I have learned to hate reading.  And I have an English degree.  But when I see books, I see hours of cold, lonely darkness.  It's like doing homework for fun.  Even if you like the book (which I usually do), it starts to feel like homework, without the home.

It's exhausting.  Drinking cans of expired beans from the food bank in the back of a cold (or hot) van in the dark.  Waking up in the parking lot of the Safeway.  Driving to the park at dawn to cop a good spot in front of the steel restrooms, 10 seconds after regaining consciousness, because you wake up and your first thought is, "screw this."  The first thing you do is turn the key and leave.  Put it in drive and hit the gas in any direction.  It's a natural reflex to waking up in a car.  It's essentially a coffin on wheels, and your body immediately responds by reflexively doing anything to get out of it.  Whether it's drugs, getting into a relationship you don't want to be in, or becoming a samurai, your soul is naturally drawn toward anything that provides even temporary relief from the cramped confinement of it, at any cost.

7ccdc8efbc0066c491f92ec5e91da49896c9c03f0b37753029d5d869a39ea763.jpg

By the end of the day, of course, you're exhausted, and the dark parking spot is like a womb of peace in the violent, urban wasteland.  Because it's a LOT better than sleeping on the sidewalk.  No matter how much it sucks, you're not IN the rain; you're not IN the wind.  The snow is melting on the floorboards, at least.  You can put blankets up in the windows.  You can always turn the key and put it in drive, and get out of wherever it is.  Even if you come back at the end of the day.  You can get out of there immediately.

And you do.  At least, I did.

Living in a van sucks beyond belief.  Cars are even worse.  If it weren't for the constant doobie-rolling, the recurring influx of burning doobie material into my blood-status, I would have lost my mind 5 minutes into it.  What a horrible, sad, infuriating way to live.  It would drive anybody at least this crazy, and it does:

74fa784bb3ffa82d5bd70b1072da2cf0f0254cf3d1b99d7a3ddd4bde0a0944c4.gif

Hahahaha, that's a brilliant skit.

You will say to "get a job," and in most circumstances... you wouldn't be wrong.  The subject is even more of a tangent than we're already on; suffice it to say, you write and record 21 albums under a rock in an age when everybody actually feels entitled to the products of your labor for free, and work a job that takes all your time and energy so that you can't write, but do it anyway, because you have no choice, and I'll listen.  Show me how it's done, or kindly be quiet.  You don't really want the spiritual compensation for ignoring the Musicians in the Coal Mine, and preaching to them about "laziness" from your taken-for-granted pedestal of "financial security" (whatever that is), do you?  You are aware that you've been blessed to be ABLE to make a living, right?  Well, you will be.  You shouldn't take it for granted.  You show me the new musician with household-name independence after Amy Winehouse, who isn't pushing the hyper-corporate Illuminati agenda of his or her controllers (as the only means of survival in an age when everybody takes the product for free), or who isn't a legacy-brand name with what you'd assume would be some kind of financial and/or cultural power (Neil Young), crawling back to Spotify after failing to move the adamantine, corporate behemoth that is only one cog in a greater, more malignant machine of centralized, social-media entitlement that is designed to devalue everything it touches, especially art.

Show me that independent songwriter everyone has heard of, whose name is as common as Neil Young, who's name is new since Amy Winehouse died (she was the last, in my opinion), and I'll show you a community of gatekeepers pretending to be artists, who exclude their undesirables like the WASP-y soccer moms they think they're so different from.

Concerned about your future?

Welcome to the Music Industry.  The line ends back there, about 20 years.

Please don't cut.

But since you're in line now, let me show you how it's done.  Now that you understand that your opinion or approval aren't worth the fiat bull dung they're printed on, and that preaching about laziness to people who aren't allowed to work is a good way to resign yourself to being treated with.... aggressive disdain, you are ready to learn how to survive "camping" alone without money or love.  And so begins The Dangerous Person's Guide To Camping Alone.

5045f14bc8c7745f70c282134e387d5bcaaae2c6e1059852fc1eea9d4531c32c.jpg

Trying not to look unshowered and emaciated so the girl would think I was cool and want to get together, after climbing out of my van in New Orleans in 2016

 

RULE #1

It's not camping if you're not going home.  Almost everyone you've ever met, except the guy on the sidewalk who's going to use the money you give him for heavy drugs and liquor because living outside sucks beyond belief, is going home after their weekend of camping.

When I was a cabdriver in Austin, I befriended a homeless guy who used to beg for money at the freeway off-ramps.  Sometimes, he would disappear for an extended period of time, only to reappear in all his unwashed, perma-drunken glory.  I once asked him where he'd gone, and he said he got busted for "camping tickets."  He'd received one too many citations for "camping," and had to work the fine off in jail. 

Another time, I was spending the night in a rest stop in Montezuma County, Colorado, only to be awakened at midnight by a cop who informed me that it was illegal to spend the night in the rest stop. 

I wasn't stupid about it, but after awhile, when you haven't belonged to the world of the washed and prosperous for an extended period of time, you lose some of the refined thinking that goes with being able to lay flat at night, or take a shower every day.  I wasn't stupid about it, but I did not hide my aggravation when I asked him, "where am I supposed to sleep?  Aren't y'all hardcore about people not driving when they're tired?"  He pointed to a sign that depicted a little tent with a red X through it.  NO CAMPING.  I hadn't been planning to pitch a tent, but even if I had, I didn't see the sign at all.  Signs exist only in the realm of legitimate members of society.  The subterranean refugee class doesn't see signs.  Members of the undesirable ghost class pass through signs like rounds fired for target practice from a passing car.  Signs are for cops and rich people.

This cop pointed at the sign, but turned out to be alright.  He checked my paperwork, of course, realized I wasn't a criminal, and let me spend the night.  He told me not to come back, but that it was okay for the night.  He wasn't a dick about it.  I passed out, woke up, and went on my way.  To wherever it was.

Not home.

It's not camping if you're not going home.  Anyone who calls it "camping," has never experienced it.

 

RULE #2

Today is a good day to die.  The key to success with the "dangerous person's" guide to camping alone is that you have to become a dangerous person.  Not a criminal, or violent, but dangerous.  Dangerous doesn't mean armed, though that might have something to do with it.  Personally, I cross too many state lines to ever consider carrying any kind of gun.  If you're transient and therefore more likely to talk to lots of cops, being armed might be a mistake.  I don't recommend it.

But you need to become a dangerous person.  It's a mindset, more than anything.  You have to be willing (and able) to be darker and more dangerous than anything or anyone who might be dumb enough to cross your path (Cops excluded.  When you're talking to cops, don't be stupid.  Tweekers and cops aren't the same thing.  Don't treat them like it).

Darker and more dangerous does not mean aggressive, or violent.  It means your life is not important to you.  The aggressor needs to know it.  They need to see that you don't care if you survive the encounter.  You need them to become afraid to the point that they re-consider their position.  They need to know that dealing with you isn't worth the trouble.

How does that translate into the real world?

Simply put, you have to be the weird, scary guy who sleeps in his car in downtown L.A. 

You're not camping.  You live here.

Once, after I'd parked for the night, I heard a car pull over in front of me.  I heard the car stop, I heard the doors open, and I heard people walking to my car.  I was on Riverside Drive just north of downtown L.A., in a dark, quiet area where almost no one ever parked.  It was my favorite spot to spend the night in the entire city, tied for first with a quiet residential street next to a park in N. Hollywood.  I'd just put my blankets up in my windows, and had the seat reclined and was ready to get some sleep, when the car stopped in front of me.  It was about midnight.

Somebody knocked on the window.  I pulled the blanket down and asked the man a simple question.  I didn't say anything else to him.  No threats, no bluster, no braggadocious exposition of my street credibility, no bravado.  Just a simple question, which I asked him 5 times:

"What do you want?"

That's it.  That's all I said to him.  "What do you want?"  But I asked him with such furious laser rage, that he froze.  I let him know with my tone, that if he forced me to get out of the car, it was going to cost him something.  I let him know that even if he beat me, I was going to bring something with me.  Something important to him was going to be lost if he didn't leave me alone immediately.  He was signing up for a Pyrrhic victory, at best.  I didn't threaten him or say anything else.  Just, simply, "what do you want?"  And he was paralyzed with fear, to the point that I had to ask him what he wanted 5 times, before I got a response.  He could see that he'd gotten more than he'd bargained for.  I watched him wondering whether or not today was the best time to learn the hard way about the mistake of knocking on weird cars at midnight on a dark street in L.A.

And I wasn't afraid of him.  I was pissed off.  I stared at him with pure rat loathing and ripped him to shreds with my bare hands in my mind, and he watched me thinking it.  Rat as in the animal, not the snitch.

I asked him 5 times, until finally he replied, "you got a cigarette?"

Good answer, I told him, and let go of the blanket so that it covered the window once again.  I heard their car doors opening, and then they drove away.

Adios, muchachos.

2b81816ff5b87257bda481f69a717df37e4d70b6eba118d2198fec0a0e9e6a1f.jpg

Today is a good day to die.

Don't forget it.

 

Rule #3

Everything that makes a cool scene in a movie, sucks in real life.  This rule applies to cabdriving as well as transient life.  The cooler the scene, the wittier the banter between the characters, the more of a drag it is in reality.  The more idealized or stylized the vision, the more comfortable the visionary.  The more offensive and abrasive and torn and bloodstained the vision, the more tired and burnt-out the guy who wrote it.  This depiction, for example, from a guy who used to go by the name "Spacemind" on Minds or Gab or Farcebook (and who still might), clearly has never lived in a van.  Nobody who has ever lived it, could possibly depict it in such a cozy, idyllic fashion:

f9e3fb70e2cf1fdcceb59aaee4ba2a0a294d5d6a974719baadf8aa9e8f04b3a8.jpg

The perfect weather, the vintage light bulbs, the glow of the sunset.  The guitar not scratched or even dusty.  The guy crossing his ankles in a relaxed way.  No clouds of flies, no biting insects, no tweeker families living under tarps with roosters, no cops asking for your "Adventure Pass," no garbage, no dirty dishes, no toothpaste splashing on your shoes because there's nowhere to spit, no diapers in the desert.  Just tall grass and wearing his clean, neatly-tied shoes inside, making sure to track all that dirt into your bed, which never gets washed. 

Great artist.  He did get the part about the sunset right.  The sunsets can be spectacular.

2e53982953069ecbeb4783371f62eabd88f0ea0a944fccfa2681bc252f71a1b4.jpg

Laughlin, NV

 

Aliens, Medical Problems, & Wild Animals

The guy in the video above, talking about how suicidal it is to go "camping" alone mentions many things that never crossed my mind in 15 years of hardcore transient living.  "What if I break my leg, or get bit by a snake?"  Hell, I dunno.  Find a hospital, or die?  He says something about "what are you going to do, just drive away with your bad leg, if your good leg is broken," and I say,

Yeah, obviously.

It happened to me, kinda.  Van life is so exhausting and takes such a toll on your body, that after awhile you're just TIRED.  You're tired all the time.  Once, at a rest stop on I-76 in Northeastern Colorado, I dislocated my knee just turning over in the driver's seat to pick something up from the floor behind me.  The object, whatever it was, was slightly out of reach, and my knee popped out of the joint, just from the act of reaching back to pick it up.  Fortunately, my knee popped back in right away, but the leg was useless.  It was my driving leg.  My accelerator and brake-pedal leg.  What was I going to do?  Reach out to the world of rule-happy shower people who distribute tickets and disdain like candy?  As though the world were their own personal piñata of rules and compliance they can beat with sticks until small packages of portable dessert come pouring down on them, like sweet rain on yet another happy day?

Of course not.  So I drove with my left leg.  Is there a choice?  Today is a good day to die, is it not?

I made it to the next town and wasted a lot of money on a hotel for the night.  Fortunately I was in the middle of nowhere and the hotel only cost $20.  I used a microphone stand as a crutch and hobbled up to my room and took a bath like a rich man.  It was great, actually.  The hotel was a beautiful, eccentric 18th-Century anomaly across the street from a weed store, and I hobbled over to the weed store to buy a joint.  The guy at the weed store gave me an old lady's cane someone had left behind, a flowered pink cane that worked a lot better than the microphone stand.  I was grateful for it.  The hotel wouldn't let me smoke weed in the room but that wasn't a big deal.  I smoked it outside and went upstairs stoned and clean like a normal human being.  It was an oasis of soap and weed and peace.

82b379883e459733d19267111bbf57f91ac38dcbea193f97d1023ea628d4f2dc.jpg

It was a pretty good night.

a1a89664cb533f642fe897ee47c068d0e7fb3c01ba3248064a36cb5c0a4a5081.jpg

Regarding natural threats, the guy in the dramatically-themed SOLO CAMPING IS SUICIDE video also mentions wild animals... bears and mountain lions, who may very well attempt to feast on you, and how it's better to have a buddy in case you get attacked by wild beasts.

While that's probably true, if you're a dangerous person for whom every day is a good day to die, it's not that big a deal.  Once, while "camping" in the desert directly west of Kingman, Arizona (not on I-40), I ventured out of the van at night to dig the sky and probably take a leak.  It was pitch black except for the galaxies and lights from the alcoholic aliens cruising in their UFOs.  You could tell they were drunk by their flight paths.  While I was out there, I heard something large and beastly, moving in the darkness.  I don't know if it was a platoon of Army Rangers with night vision, or an antelope, or the feared (and fearful) mountain lion.  Like an idiot, I grunted at it, in an attempt to scare it away.  I figured it would be better to let it know, whatever it was, that I was not an easy meal.  I figured an aggressive sound would scare it away.

To my horror, I admit, it grunted back at me.

Without running or turning away, I hastened back to the van and locked myself in for the night.  Here's a picture I took of the general area:

61de04c47545aee3c55444b1c9b999f029747161ef665c5be31cdf44815cb95f.jpg

I saw a bear once in Aspen, Colorado.  I had just ordered a slice of pizza from a 2nd-floor pizza joint after a show at a nearby bar, and was reading a sign about bears.  The sign didn't have any bulletholes in it, and to my own surprise, I could see it.  It informed the reader what to do in case of a bear sighting.  I thought to myself, man that would suck, and took a bite out of my pizza.  Then I looked up and a huge black bear came walking around the corner.

It was freaky.  I made a quick, quiet retreat down the cross street, perpendicular to the bear's route.  He didn't seem to see me.  I hoped the pizza in my hand wasn't enough to get his attention.  Fortunately, it wasn't.  He lumbered along the path he had originally chosen, a normal street in downtown Aspen, and in a few seconds was out of sight.

It was a relief.  Why didn't he try to rob me?  Maybe he could tell I lived outside, and didn't have any money.  There would have been no point in holding me up.  All he would have gotten was a slice of pizza.  The payout for sticking up someone else would have been much higher.

Here's an article about why not to take selfies with the bears.  It doesn't strike me as something that needs to be said.  But then again, I'm a "dangerous person," and so I know how dangerous it can be out there.  "Good" people might think the wild animal walking down the street is "cute," because they have a stuffed-animal understanding of the world, and believe in the righteousness of their own perception.  I don't see it like that.  I once saw an emaciated moose walking through a stream next to a state highway in Colorado, and was instantly struck with visceral sadness.  The moose was obviously starving.  Seeing him made me sad.  It made me want to die.

Other people, however, pulled over and took out their cameras and started filming it.  I thought to myself, what's up?  Who are you?  Dorian Gray in reverse?  Why would you want a picture of the indictment of your own sin?  Don't you know that our sin is the reason he is starving?  Do you photograph your grandmother on her death bed?  What's wrong with you?  Are you SICK or something?

And the answer is yes.  They are sick.  Being unaware of and/or denying their sickness is the main reason for their sickness.  They think acknowledging their sickness is "negative."  Then they watch their sickness in the form of a moose struggling to walk upstream through a freezing stream in Colorado and see it as a "photo op," instead of as an indictment of their own moral shortcomings.  They're not dangerous in the normal sense, but in fact they're more dangerous than "dangerous" people.  They're dangerous because they think they're safe.  Which is the most dangerous position of all.

Stuffed animals, waiting to be devoured by the fires of eternity.  Avoid them like you avoid the bears doing their Christmas shopping in July.  There is cuteness on the surface.  But underneath is bones.

65867a311d2608fdbc26cda0d54cdb73bcd3b99410216412f30744a5c561d690.png

The stuff about the aliens is true.  Of course I don't believe in aliens, but I did decide to give a place I stayed in Arizona the name "Alien Valley," due to a pile of spines and discarded sweatclothes I found in the desert.  I couldn't fathom any reason why there would be a pile of disembodied spines and assorted pieces of athletic clothing in the middle of the desert, so I invented a story about aliens who liked to abduct joggers and other athletes, consume them in their entirety sparing only the spines, and throwing the unwanted remains into a pile in the desert.  The sky in that place was amazing.  No manmade lightsources anywhere in sight.  You could watch the fighter jets from the nearby military base shooting tracer rounds at each other in the sky, like a giant game of electric ping-pong.  I hiked up to a nearby cave during the day.  The view is hard to beat:

I used to wear my beer insulation suit every day; it's unsightly to me now.  I'll have 8 years sober in a week or 2.  Thank God!!!

I could go on.  I lived in cars & vans for 15 years, so there are a lot of stories.  At some level, it's all variations on the same old theme:  I'm Tired, & Could Use A Shower.  Do You Mind If I Park In Your Driveway For The Night?  It's really cool when they let you come inside for the night.  But, truly, often the driveway is enough.  It's private, you're welcome there.  You can take a shower inside and then go back out to the van to spend the night; the shower is VALUABLE, and even if you're not spending the night indoors, being clean is worth its weight in joy and happiness.  I lived in the parking lot of the Catholic church in Jerome, Arizona for months.  That was as good as it could ever possibly get for van life.  I was welcome there, invited by the caretakers of the church to stay, so no one could kick me out.  And everybody knew I was there.  The view was great and the town was friendly, which isn't usually the case.  Unless you hang out with people EVERY DAY, the day still effectively comes to an end when the sun goes down, and you're still reading free books by flashlight, but good vibes and friendly people are the difference in baring your teeth at the tweeker junky knocking on your window at midnight and smoking rollies and talking with your buddy before he goes home to his girlfriend or parakeet.  And when he leaves town, he might even let you stay at his house for a week.  As long as you don't expect it. 

You can never expect it.  Which brings me to Rule #4.

 

Rule #4

Be Grateful For Everything.

This is by far the most-important rule for surviving the loveless, lonely slog of van life.  Be grateful for everything, and expect nothing.  Meaning, don't be entitled.  If a guy gives you a can of beans, be grateful for it.  Don't show up at his house expecting him to give you beans because he once gave you beans; don't expect it, but if it happens, be grateful for it.  If your friend offers to let you take a shower, be grateful for it.  If the cop lets you spend the night and doesn't give you a ticket, thank him for it.  Not obsequiously, but truly.  With genuine gratitude.  Be thankful for all your blessings.  If the wild animal doesn't attack you, be grateful for it.  If your tires don't get punctured by the sharp rocks littering the "road," don't take it for granted.  If you're stupid enough to drive into a wash, and a rancher drags you out and even lets you park at his ranch for a few days, be grateful for it.

If there's anything outdoor people should know more about than indoor people, it's gratitude.  Indoor people tend to take their S.O.L. (standard of living) for granted.  Outdoor people can't take ANYTHING for granted.  So, when an outdoor person receives something that an indoor person uses or does or receives every day, the outdoor person is more likely to be grateful for it.

God forbid you ever have to live outdoors or in a van, but if you do, it's possible that God is trying to teach you some GRATITUDE.

Because believe me, even if you're grateful, you're not as grateful as someone who doesn't experience it every day.  Don't learn that lesson the hard way, if you can avoid it.  To this day, I thank God on a regular basis for the things that aggravate me.  I would have taken visceral pleasure in the aggravations I am blessed with today.  Perhaps I'm an extremely arrogant, myopic person, and needed to learn that lesson the hard way.  Maybe we all are.  Whatever the case, I am extremely grateful on a regular basis, to this day, for the things that drive me crazy.  I look with amazement at my rich-people problems like bad internet connections and questionable temperature or water pressure in the shower.  It beats the hell out of bathing with a garden hose behind the Catholic church at 3am, so no one sees you.  And that's not bad, relatively speaking.  It's better than bathing in the rushing stream in Colorado, with water so cold it cracks your skin, and ice and snow floating past your feet.  It's BEAUTIFUL; it makes a great scene in a movie, but it sucks in real life. 

126494ce7e8f002c648230d3cf4821eacbab57271f9300b489bc1210ce85cb9c.jpg

In my own motorized, 20th-Century way, I've always related to Jeremiah Johnson.  I don't need anybody to presume to enlighten me on how different it is, on how my struggle is like a stroll through a children's cartoon compared to the life he led (whether he was fictional or archetypal or not); I do, however, always appreciate another motorized cultural refugee who understands how many similarities there are to our lives and his.  "Winter stays long, this high up," or whatever the Grizzly guy says to him just before this scene pictured above, in which he resembles the grizzled creature he's wearing on his head.  "You've come far, pilgrim," the Grizzly guy tells him.  "Feels far," he replies.  His exhaustion brought him there.  The apparent endlessness of the cold, the apparent desire for permanence expressed by the darkness, and the struggle.

Living inside is amazing.  I for one am grateful for it.

I still don't entirely believe that I'm not going to have to move into my van in a week.  I lived it so long, that I don't know anything else.  I am still amazed when I wake up in a real, actual room, as opposed to in a van with no shocks in the middle of nowhere.  Living in a van was beaten into me.  I don't really know any other way to live.  It started out as a way of getting more work done, with the goal (and God forbid maybe even assumption) that it wasn't going to last forever, and when people noticed the music, I could make my OWN money and live like a normal human being.

Then 10 years went by.  Then 15.  I got a lot of writing done, and was free to travel and play all kinds of shows in all kinds of different places, but it took a toll.  Stability is a foreign concept to me.  Still is, though I haven't slept in a vehicle in over 5 years.  But I still don't believe in the walls.  I don't believe in the shower.  It's hard for me to believe.  The instability is difficult to explain.  If you don't understand it, you are blessed beyond measure.  People think that saying "I don't believe in the walls" is a weird statement, and they're right.  They'll think, "walls are bad, right?" 

Walls are not bad.  Walls keep the drunken aliens away, tweeker cigarette solicitors, bears.  Walls are a good thing.  If you don't think so, I invite you to live outside of them.

But if you want to survive alone, you should probably become a dangerous person.  The unspoken part is that in order to become dangerous, you have to have an extremely low amount of things to lose.  You can't "act" dangerous.  You have to be pushed into a corner and actually not care.  Your circumstances have to make you dangerous.  God help you if you ever get there, but if you do,

Now you know how to do it.

Thanks for listening,

N

 

Some more transient vids:

 

The Heart I Know By Heart Tour 2013

Arizona To Oregon 2014

 

And the donation option, for those so inclined, and generous enough to give.  I can use it:

 

Charles Schwab checking acct #440029741962

Routing number: 121202211

 

Thanks again.

How do you rate this article?


1

0

Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket. http://www.pablosmoglives.com


pablosmoglives
pablosmoglives

Replacing my blog at http://pablosmoglives.wordpress.com

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.