Blogging Walden: 'What's the news?' ... Why we need Thoreau now, as much as ever
It may come as no surprise that a writer living in a small cabin in the woods likes Henry David Thoreau. Despite a lot of recent criticism heaped on the man and his work, I continue to think he was a genius who penned amazing treatises on solitude, nature, justice and self determination.
That's not to say the guy was perfect. But I feel a certain kinship to the naturalist writer who accidentally burned 300 acres of woods when a campfire got out of control. He also had a tendency to annoy people, didn't mind contradicting himself, and could be kind of an ass.
As a self-described part-time hermit, Thoreau's approach makes perfect sense to me, and recently I've been re-reading Walden and putting down some thoughts.
The follow-up finds Yuri Realman settling into his hermit lifestyle, and struggling with his dreams of being a writer. He's pared everything back so he can focus on his work, but still the rejections pile up.
And then his story goes sideways--for a moment--when a misunderstanding winds him locked up in a county jail. It's a week that tests his beliefs and philosophies, while also giving him a little insight into the criminal justice system: who gets sent away, and just how bad is the food..
More stories from the road, and insights into off-grid living. In this issue Yuri visits the wild beaches of North Carolina, the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas, and jail. As his resolve as a writer is tested, his work takes a turn towards the existential.
& Ranch, Issue #1!
& Ranch is the story of Yuri Realman: a guy who abandons his life in Washington, D.C., to follow dreams of becoming a writer. He quits his job and spends a year living on the road, before settling into a small cabin to reconnect with nature and pursue his passion.
& Ranch is part photo-comic, part literary and photographic journal. It's a story about someone taking a risk.
Follow Yuri's adventure as he moves from a cubicle in D.C. to life on the road, exploring Joshua Tree, Texas, Big Sur, ghost towns, and the Pacific Northwest.
As Yuri settles into his new off-grid cabin life, he begins to embrace the natural world, experiment with consciousness-altering drugs and write surreal short stories.
Issue #1 is 6x9, 56 pages.
Hobgoblins & Radio: On Changing Your Mind
I have--so far at least--enjoyed getting older. I think it's mostly due to an increased sense of agency and presence and self-awareness. Practically speaking: You get to do more fun things. And the toys are better.
One of the little joys I appreciate about the whole thing is being able to change my mind.
I used to hate olives, and now I don't. That's one of those little things that sounds so unimportant but then, I can think back and truly remember hating olives.
I also used to hate pictures of flowers, and I celebrated capitalism. Who the hell was that guy? The ability to change is awesome... [continues]
And a review of the Coleman stovetop-oven
I used to bake bread often, but then again I used to have an oven.
For a while, that was one of the biggest things "missing" in living off the grid. I experimented with building a brick oven, but never really took to using it. I experimented with flat breads, but it just wasn't the same. And so for the past couple of years I largely stopped baking. ... [continues]
Making Something Useful
I've been working on "correspondence rolls"--basically, a little kit for your pencils and postcards and a notebook, for when you're out traveling or people watching. A lot of what I make and sell, I assume it gets read and then discarded. In some ways, it makes me more focused on how it will be received. Will they like it?!?
But with something like this, it has a purpose as well as an aesthetic. I really enjoyed making this. I used a hammer and nail to score the leather and canvas [continues] ...
(... or buy it here.)
This whole trek towards minimalism and tiny home, off-grid-living began years ago when I left D.C. and traveled around the United States. I spent almost a year living out of a van, ultimately reconnecting with the outdoors and realizing I didn't need a whole lot of stuff to actually be happy.
These are some of the photos from that amazing 15,000-mile adventure.