A positive vagabond, the wandering ascetic (h.koppdelaney)
“From all your herds, a cup or two of milk,/From all your granaries, a loaf of bread,/In all your palace, only half a bed:/Can man use more? And do you own the rest?” – Ancient Sanskrit poem.
Living well is quite different from “doing well.” In the quest to get ahead — destination often unknown — it’s easy to have life pass you by while you’re focused on other things. This post is intended as a reminder and a manifesto: keep it simple.
This is written by Rolf Potts, author of my perennial favorite and heavily highlighted Vagabonding. In the below piece, I’ve bolded some particular parts that have had an impact on my life. Enter Rolf.
In March of 1989, the Exxon Valdez struck a reef off the coast of Alaska, resulting in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Initially viewed as an ecological disaster, this catastrophe did wonders to raise environmental awareness among average Americans. As television images of oil-choked sea otters and dying shore birds were beamed across the country, pop-environmentalism grew into a national craze.
Instead of conserving more and consuming less, however, many Americans sought to save the earth by purchasing “environmental” products. Energy-efficient home appliances flew off the shelves, health food sales boomed, and reusable canvas shopping bags became vogue in strip malls from Jacksonville to Jackson Hole. Credit card companies began to earmark a small percentage of profits for conservation groups, thus encouraging consumers to “help the environment” by striking off on idealistic shopping binges.
- How rich are you? (compared to the world)
Such shopping sprees and health food purchases did absolutely nothing to improve the state of the planet, of course — but most people managed to feel a little better about the situation without having to make any serious lifestyle changes.
This notion — that material investment is somehow more important to life than personal investment — is exactly what leads so many of us to believe we could never afford to go vagabonding. The more our life options get paraded around as consumer options, the more we forget that there’s a difference between the two. Thus, having convinced ourselves that buying things is the only way to play an active role in the world, we fatalistically conclude that we’ll never be rich enough to purchase a long-term travel experience.
Fortunately, the world need not be a consumer product. As with environmental integrity, long-term travel isn’t something you buy into: it’s something you give to yourself.
Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level, but through simplicity — the conscious decision of how to use what income you have. More>>