Monday, October 26, 2015

The comfort of insecurity

I did a lot of research and planning before embarking on this nomadic life. What would I need? What were the potential problems? Where would I go? What would I do? What’s my backup plan? Questions questions questions… I was looking for reassurances—maybe even proofs—that it was a good idea, that it wouldn’t be a disaster.

But all that book learnin’ (or web learnin’) could take me only so far. I wouldn’t actually know until I made the big leap.

Now, twenty-six months after stepping off the cliff, the answer is, “Oh, this is easy. For me, anyway.” My particular cliff was more like a curb.

I’m descended from Vikings, from explorers (and, well, rapers and pillagers—sorry about that). I’m also descended from people who took the big leap, who left the lives they knew and came to America. But then my ancestors became settlers. They dropped anchor. They dug in. They planted and built and stopped wandering. Stopped exploring. Stopped sailing beyond the horizon, off the edge of the map.

“Anchored” has opposing connotations. The anchor keeps a ship from drifting into danger. It also keeps it from getting anywhere. Security versus entrapment. I spent my fifties feeling like the latter. Stuck. I wanted to cut the anchor.

Ben Franklin said (approximately) that those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. I wouldn’t go that far. I think we deserve both. But I believe there’s a scale of compromise. The more you want of one, the less you can have of the other. However, now that I’ve made the major commitment to freedom, I don’t miss the security much. I don’t feel insecure. I feel like my authentic self.

I know other nomads who want more security than I do. They are allowed to find their balance. But I propose they need less security than they think. Is security a castle keeping danger away, or is it a cell keeping you a prisoner? Is security a fuzzy blanket you cuddle into, or is it baggage taking up space in your van?


  1. Al - I enjoy the combination of fabulous photos and philosophy in your blog. This post really stirs up my intellect to the point that I am driven to write. I love when that happens.

    I was nomadic in spurts during my 20s, until having babies settled me down for the duration, but my girls are mostly launched, and not all of them are doing well financially, but all four are sensitive, aware people. They can camp and garden. Three of them made a valiant effort to do well in Corporate America, and two of them have mostly dropped out.

    For me the hardest part of parenting, other than not getting child support, was encouraging them to be self supporting and also avoid consumerism. Most jobs involve selling, especially selling yourself. I struggled mightily with the security versus freedom issue until it dawned on me that I am actually less secure when I do not feel free.

    I started listing all the jobs I have had and different ways I have made money and the list is over 120. I have lived in a teepee, school bus, Honda Civic, VW bug, abandoned house in the woods, condemned row house in the nation's capital, and also a nice cottage, tiny farmhouse, cabin in Mendocino County, roach-infested student apartment, and so on. Many of those were super temporary, as were my jobs.

    So right now I feel the most free, as I expected I would at this age, as long as I do not run out of money, and even then, I probably will be fine. I am in a 88 Fleetwood, 26 foot trailer. It is in a trailer park full of characters and overlooking a field and fruit trees. I have been giving tons of stuff to Goodwill and putting my camp stuff in the Tundra, where I like to sleep and cook. It is hard to stay here for long with all the wifi and there is a big electrical transformer close by. You can see the cell phone tower, which they put up next to an elementary school. At least we don't have smart meters here. I can feel all this. I need to get to the ocean or the forest or both very soon. Freedom means being able to cut free of all this. But it is a balancing act because here in the Rogue Valley is the highest quality fruits and vegetables anywhere, so I hate to give that up. I am not a shopper at Walmart or Whole Foods either one. Hopefully I can spend some time in the desert this winter and look for farmers markets.

  2. Security is all the above. The trick for me is finding the balance the best I can within the confines of Dave's needs. Too much security and not enough freedom at the moment but it is what it is.

  3. I’d just like to lay down on top of you. I’d like to put you flat down on the floor and just lie down on top of you, Doc. Flat, level. Two guys, flat, face-to-face. And then I’d like to put a big, red, flowing chiffon evening gown on you and ride you around my house. Not in a gay way but like a viking. Like only two vikings who are so secure in their Norse heritage, they can ride each other up and down the steps and not have one tinge of homosexual panic.