(I wrote this series, because, for years, people have asked me how I got so ‘green.’ Hopefully this will provide some insight and give you ideas about how to live simply and appreciate the natural world of which you are a part. Read Part 1, The 50s, 60s & 70s and Part 2, The 80s, New Hampshire.)
The 80s – Simplified Through Traveling
In 1987, an especially brutal winter forced me to find warmer weather. I rented out my house, and hit the road. I carried everything I needed in a Toyota pick-up truck with a dumpstered camper shell on the back. I had a sleeping bag and pillow, a milk crate of books and journals, a crate of kitchen items, a pillowcase of clothes, a cooler, a toolbox and a small bag of toiletries. My truck became my home.
I headed west, and for the next couple of years, I followed warm weather – summer in the north, winter in the south. You have to if you are living outside, and I met many people doing the same thing. I immediately saw one benefit of staying where it was warm – no extreme heating or cooling bills. I frequently thought about nomadic peoples traveling to where there was food and warmth. It seemed so natural!
I met ‘homeless’ men and women, who chose to live on the street, some as a political statement, some following warm weather and some simply loving travel and adventure. Not unlike backpacking, they carried their belongings with them – bedroll, backpack and sharply honed survival skills.
Sadly, I also met people who were victims of our system, the mentally ill you see on the news freezing to death in winter, because of a lack of shelters. You’ve seen pictures and videos of them maybe pushing a shopping cart filled with their belongings.
In New Mexico, I met a woman, who had lived without money for two years. She grew her own food and dumpstered or bartered for everything else she needed. Her resourcefulness and survival skills were inspiring! I listened intently to her stories and continued to simplify. She still lives here in Taos, leading a simple, organic life.
What I Learned
Through this travel experience, I continued to learn about necessities for survival. In the 80s, I saw and lived ‘low impact’ and ‘small carbon footprint,’ 21st century phrases. These years affirmed for me how I felt about my childhood, that the excesses of the upper-middle class are just that – excess – and that I did not have to live that way.
I fell in love with the sun of the southwest, and I knew this was where I wanted to be. I went back to New Hampshire, sold my house and sold or gave away everything that was not already in my truck. My life was truly simple now, and I drove away with all my belongings.
Back in the southwest, I started raising a family in 1990. On that journey, I took with me the lessons I’d learned so far about simplicity.
Stay tuned for the final installment: The 90s – Raising a Family and Beyond
Adapted from the original on my blog, desert verde.
hot on elephant
July’s Full Moon in Capricorn: The Heart wants what it Wants. The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. How to Love a Woman who Scares You. Our Soulmates are Rarely Who We Expect. I Still Think of You. Men, Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Size Matters. To the One Who Tried to Break Me. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. How My Sister’s Death Transformed my Self-Perception.