Wilderness run.

Well I took the Jeep out for a wilderness run today.

Thought you all might enjoy a hermit ‘ride along’. A chance to get out of the house and still practice social distancing.

Where else can you live for 24 years where ‘progress’ fears to go.
That’s the BNSF train in the distance.
The reason we drive a Jeep Wrangler.
Aubrey Valley and Cliffs. God loved building Arizona.
Our nearest neighbor is…
Back home where the resident greeter is waiting.

Turning Inward-The Delicate Art of Survival.

I’ve used this blog primarily for posting my digital doodles but feel the time has come to share a few thoughts.

While we are all aware that things have changed it’s not a simple change of inconvenience, it’s a major planetary transformation. The outcome will be dramatic. While the human capacity for hiding in complacency has worked in the past we no longer have that comfort, our cherished companion of apathy has turned against us. Life takes effort. If you can take your mind off of the distractions that only we humans have the luxury to pursue you’ll find all other life forms pursuing the delicate art of survival. If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience a time when you’re existence depended on the ability to rally the mystical forces of your inner self to battle that which was attempting to kill you you’ve never truly lived. When you’ve limped through life with the battle scares of what I call ‘a great encounter’ you have an opportunity to emerge with resentment or insights into a cosmic understanding.

When I was a medical engineer I had the opportunity to know many people who possessed the mystical insights necessary for daily survival. They all had one thing in common, the ability to apply the necessary effort to accomplish what most take for granted; eating, swallowing, breathing, regulating body temperature, evacuation of bowels and bladder, pers onal hygiene and voluntary physical movement.

I find it fascinating that I’ve lived to see the day when the able bodied socially accepted will have to swim in the murky waters previously reserved for the underprivileged, physically and mentally challenged social rejected. Thus providing them the opportunity for introspection into who they are and that which truly matters.

Waking up and not being able to move because some microbes are chewing up your important wiring forces you to focus and rally the internal forces that are only available when you’re alone with the self. Social isolation is a gift if you can embrace it, solitude is the doorway to the essence of who you truly are. Not the superficial image you’re used to seeing in the social mirror.

Regardless of financial affluence if you can’t spend it to buy convenience, physical and mental comfort, welcome to the world of poverty. A world where self delusion doesn’t exist, the poor know who they are only the rich don’t. I remember my ghetto days, not being able to find work because no one hired “cripples.” Not eating for seven days until I found enough change on the streets to buy a twenty cent bean burrito at Taco Bell. Hovering over an old toaster I found in an alley dumpster to get a little heat in the winter. Surviving a deep gash in the head by going to bed for a few days rather than a hospital emergency room. Going to a local hospital and sitting in a waiting area smoking the cigarettes left in the ashtrays while waiting for the patient food trays with uneaten meals to be left in the halls unattended for the golden moments of a bums smorgasbord.  The daily trips to the public library for five hours of warmth and studying philosophy and art history. I was poor but I was free, unencumbered by social dictates other than good manners, quietly gliding through life. The elation that accompanies a looseness of spirit is unequaled.

It took me twenty years of immense effort to become a socially accepted, highly respected and affluent medical engineer. It was never really an end goal, it was an experiment. Could I emerge from the limitations of an impoverished orphan with physical disabilities and mingle in the ivory towers of the rich and successful, and then leave it behind for a life of wilderness solitude.

A wilderness hermit isn’t suffering from a ‘Lock down’ or having to ‘practice’ social distancing.

Now I’m not implying that my past experiences were a planned exercise for the worldly events of today but they were the impetus to develop a simple minimalist lifestyle for 23 years that has placed me in an advantageous position.

This is the time to realize and accept the fallacy in governments and social infrastructures, to become aware of your inner self with its remarkable strengths, to appreciate loving companionship’s, to appreciate the beautiful calms in between storms of devastation, to abandon fear and embrace serendipitous happenstance like everything in nature does knowing that it’s a part of the great immensity.

The mystical winds are sweeping across the planet, I see it as a Grand Reclamation.

Fringe Dwellers

As a rule you’ll never see them nor meet them. They aren’t among the homeless on the streets because they don’t interact with society or need to depend on it.

They live in the deep forests, jungles, mountains, remote deserts and other wilderness areas where people never go because those places are deemed inhospitable, and they are except for the fringe dwellers who’ve managed to survive where most others couldn’t. Paved roads, public utilities and services don’t exist nor are they needed or wanted. They have traded conventional living’s conveniences for time amongst nature, they are only governed by weather. No time restrictions, stress or difficult social interactions, they have merged with nature where they have become part of a mystical experience in being. Unlike Thoreau’s Walden pond they don’t do it for a year and then write a book. They quietly stay for 40 or 60 years or more because that’s what it takes to experience the magic that comes with surrendering to the mystical winds.

There are many reasons that contribute to such a lifestyle from wretched abuse, physical and mental inability to a simple desire to experience life alone absent of the restrictions that accompany the presence of others or societies dictates. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a conventional life and there’s nothing wrong with being a fringe dweller the only thing that’s never made sense is the people living conventional lives and complaining rather than taking that first step into the unknown of change.

Bobcat
Snakes can go anywhere they want.

Some of the animals above could kill you but always remember, they can sense your intentions. If you welcome them they’ll welcome you.

Commentary about hermits rest.

Sometimes to see where you are you have to look back at where you’ve been. Don’t linger there, just take a quick glimpse, fill in any unaddressed hollows that could haunt you into the forevers.

Introspection while steeped in solitude is the best way I’ve found for unraveling the knots of self misconception.

In 1997 when I moved from the west coast of California to the high desert mountains of Arizona I traded seagulls and the ocean for ravens and the high desert sky.

I traded people and the city for the life of a recluse and the wilderness.

I spent 9 years in solitude.

It took 3 years of just sitting or aimlessly wandering the hills like an unteathered camel to wash away forty eight years of accumulations motivated by fear.

Almost half a century held captive by fear.

It took another three years to trade anger for compassion, sorry for joy and the intellect for intuition.

And another three years to end reification and set myself free from me.

Nine years facing the wall of introspective solitude.

Because I believe if you don’t take the time you forfeit the rhythm of simply being.

People have asked me how can you spend nine years in complete solitude.

The further out you go, the longer you stay and the longer you stay the less likely you are to find a reason to return.

Doodling the Decades-the 60’s

The early 60’s began peaceful enough. There was the English Invasion but it came with guitars not guns and their national drink is tea which says a lot. Besides it was only four Beatles, I’ve had apartments with more roaches.

The early and mid 60’s

The Great Transformation began, Hipsters became Hippies.

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Which resulted in the pilgrimage to their Mecca West.

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Some traveled 1000’s of miles and arrived with flowers in their hair because some guy who wasn’t a hippie wrote a song about them. Why San Francisco was chosen remains a mystery.

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The holy sacrament was freely shared, as were other things.

 

The summer of love was a Zen moment in time when masses of humanity were kind to one another. Love truly prevailed, I was there, it was electrifying. Moments like that don’t come by often or last long. I guess it unbalances the cosmic scale.

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By the late 60’s humanity got an itchy finger and pulled the trigger of social chaos. Historically this seems to be a pattern of cosmic winds, even the weather gets involved. “Humankind follows the earth. The earth follows the heavens. The heavens follow the Tao. The Tao follows its own way.”-Lao Tzu.   I believe the why of the way will remain unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

Maximizing the minimal.

I love simplicity. When I established Hermit’s Rest in ‘97 the lifestyle demanded simplicity and I embraced it. I even decided to find out just how simple simple could get, The Hindu holy men that sit naked in the temple alcoves with nothing but a mat, begging bowl and water cup are the practitioners of quintessential simplicity, however I’m not in India. Such behavior is frowned on here in the states so I had to compromise.

Simplicity is based on minimalism. I asked myself what do I really need to live a comfortable and sanitary life. For the first 17 years I lived alone with my Queensland Heeler ‘Gabbie’ who was perfectly content with a water bowl, food bowl and sleeping bench I made her, she was essentially a Hindu Siddha without the temple alcove.

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I also didn’t have much money because I gave my medical engineering practice in California to a colleague of mine and retired at 48. I decided having all the time in the world to spend was a richer and simpler life than having a stack of money to spend. I spent the first 22 years of my life dirt poor and didn’t become a successful engineer until I was 27. I went from being a hippie living in an old converted chicken coop with a yearly income of $720.00 dollars a year and a beat up ‘58 Ford pickup to a yuppie with a hillside home and Porsche. At the height of my silliness to overcome a life of poverty and try out social acceptance and success I wound up buying the restaurant where I had been the janitor 8 years before (the source of my hippie $720.00 a year income) and owning a Mercedes a BMW another restaurant and was working 120 hours a week. Two things saved me. One of my regular customers at the restaurant who was living in his VW bus asked me how much the Mercedes was costing me a month, I told him with payments, insurance, yearly registration and maintenance probably around $600.00 a month. He responded with “Hell Mike you only drive it to and from work. I’ll come pick you up and take you home for a hundred a month.” I bought him breakfast and he never had to pay for his coffee again, cheap price to pay for the wisdom of common sense. The other major influence was Paul Simons song, “Slip sliding away.” The lyrics “The closer you’re destination the more you slip slid away” hit the soul of my true self like a hammer. A year later I walked away from everything, bought an old motorhome and headed for the Arizona wilderness. My income dropped from $130,000 a year to $7,920 but my time account soared to unlimited heights and the elation experienced in freeing myself from all of the social trappings, along with returning to my true nature, made the adjustment easy.

When the only person you’re accountable to is your dog it leaves you with a lot of leeway in lifestyle choices.

I bought my property for a hundred dollars down and seventy-five dollars a month for eight years. The next step was to drive a hundred miles to the nearest city and trade the motorhome for a 1986 four wheel drive pickup with a six inch lift and 33” all terrain tires to navigate the unpaved roads. To replace the motorhome I bought an old twenty-four foot travel trailer, moved it on the property and covered it in concrete to keep it from falling apart as well as creating a trombe wall effect for passive solar heating and insulation. Three years later I saved up enough money to build an eighty square foot front room for reading, writing and whittling. I added large windows for the view which brings the outside in. The place may look a bit odd but it’s efficient, comfortable, easy to heat, keep cool and maintain. The total cost was $4,800. 


Three years ago I somehow managed to find a woman who found my company tolerable and this lifestyle had always been her dream. The post “Hide and watch” talks about how that remarkable event occurred. The house is 240 square feet that we find more than adequate.

Over the years and as I got older I allowed myself a few comforts. A composting toilet and I expanded the 65 watt solar system to 175 watts to run a laptop and small 12 volt refrigerator that’s about the size of a large ice chest. The place is still run off of just two 6 volt deep cycle golf cart batteries. Due to the open floor plan and it’s size our primary light source is a 4 watt LED ceiling fixture. We use an average of 350 watts of 12 volt electricity in 24 hours, that’s with the refrigerator, lighting, laptop and a 12 volt DVD player for a movie at night.

We have 2,300 gallons of water hauled  in once a year and stored in two large tanks. We’ve found if used conscientiously 6 gallons of water a day is adequate for drinking, cooking, bathing and the hand washing of clothes.

85 gallons of propane is delivered twice a year and in the winter it can average 20 degrees at night and 40 degrees during the day with the occasional below zero at night and 20 during the day. Once again the size of the place and simple passive solar heating help.

We don’t require much in the way of things other than basic supplies so we drive an average of 1,680 to 2,000 miles a year which allows us to spend time at home watching the wonderment of our natural surroundings and listening to the whispers of nature.

This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and rightfully so, it has it’s challenges, and family obligations are a factor. I’ve posted this simply to show those who might feel trapped in a dead end life that what you get yourself into can always be backed out of and it doesn’t require much money. Simply a conviction that if you point your toes in the right direction all you have to do is start walking.

“When you live your dream you’ll find yourself dancing your joy in the stark moonlight casting an ever increasing shadow of being.”

Bright blessings and may we merry meet again,

Mike and Lori

The ultimate security,

I retired from medical engineering when I was 47 because I decided that time had more value than money.

The common expression “time is money” is ludicrous. Time isn’t money, it’s time and it can’t be bought because it’s not for sale.

So I developed a lifestyle where money isn’t that significant. If we were to become financial destitute tomorrow it would change very little in the way we live.

“Hide and watch.”

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One of our neighbors stopping by for a nap in our gazebo

If you look closely you’ll  see the Lynx which stopped by the other day for a little water and a nap. In the summer we get a variety of guest seeking the shade and cool concrete of the gazebo. From rabbits to rattle snakes they all seem to know about the gazebo at Hermits Rest. And yes I know, rattlesnakes? Well it’s quite the experience to be working in the gazebo, notice some movement in your peripheral vision, and discover an adult rattlesnake simply passing by you on its way to its favorite napping corner. It’s quintessential mutual acceptance, absent of prejudice and fear. It’s one of the best ‘spiritual experiences’ I’ve ever had. I’ll take being totally accepted by the critters in nature over ‘enlightenment’ any day.

I think these events are the result of having been here for so long (since 1997) that when the local wildlife see me they think, “oh, it’s just him.”

Now my wife is a whole other story and I’m posting this to give you and my long-term reader friends a glimpse of the woman who not only tolerates but actually loves my company along with the composting toilet, the 230 square foot wilderness hermitage that’s powered by two golf cart batteries via the sun and that using a total of six gallons of water a day isn’t conserving, it’s all that’s necessary. In fact she spends more time telling me what we don’t need than what we do because she says we have everything.

Lori is a wizard of nature, a natural naturalist. The other day I saw her going for a walk and chatting with one of her favorite tarantulas who was literally walking alongside her. No kidding, she not only knows this particular tarantula she knows where it lives and that it had babies last year. Golden eagles swoop down on occasion and give her a wing wave and ravens hang out with her in the gazebo. The wildlife may think ‘oh it’s just him’ when they see me but when she steps outside you can almost hear them say ” hey there’s Lori let’s stop by and say hi.” She’s even a doggone barometer. She can step outside, look at the sky and then tell me there’s a storm circling around from the south but it will come in from the west in about an hour. If she tells me this at 2 p.m. you’ll find me closing the windows at 3 because sure enough..

When I first notice and remarked on these uncanny abilities she simply replied, “I believe in being aware of my surroundings and all that’s occurring in them. All you have to do is hide (meaning be still in an almost invisible way) and watch.”

Now while I spent years reading the ancient teachings and got the doctorate, Lori simply ‘got it’ at the moment she blessed this earth with her presence.

If she ever comes across one of those expounding new age gurus who fancy themselves as teachers of life…I’m just going to ‘hide and watch.’