I know a guy who lives off the road, through the brush, nestled under some live oaks. There are coyotes that he’s heard a few times and he checks their tracks in the morning. He goes down his little path, crosses the street, takes the bus to town and crosses back over the street again when he’s ready to go home. Every few days, he charges his phone when he buys lunch from Central Market and he takes the leftovers home. He doesn’t need a lot of money, so he doesn’t have a lot of money.
This man lives today in Austin. He is not homeless. I can’t begin to understand his mentality. I could not even begin to imagine living in the woods. That is, until I knew someone who did.
If I am capable of being his friend, doesn’t that mean his way of life isn’t so foreign to mine? Moreover, if we can relax together, tell each other stories and even ask each other for counsel, might I not also be able to imagine for myself living as he lives, if not just for the curiosity?
I humored the idea of living in the woods. In my head, I went through the daily rituals and how they would be changed or even eliminated. I thought of how simple my life would be and how much I could use some simplicity. However, that feeling was short-lived and demolished by an overwhelming fear of rejection from society.
The only clarity I have in this dissonance is I am determined to get to the bottom of it. I choose not to live in a state of friction, but in one of discovery. I know I need simplicity and a self-imagine independent of society, but I won’t achieve either without a challenge – the chance to work really hard for them. So that’s why I have at least begun to think about living in the woods. What would be so wrong with it?
I practice mental health.
That was one deep breath.