And so goes little Alice’s rather perplexing and philosophical conversation with the Cheshire Cat as she wanders through the forest in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I used to have this poster framed on my bedroom wall, but I don’t know what happened to it- probably lost somewhere in the mix as I moved apartments, cities and countries throughout the years. Rereading it from time to time would calm my mind down when I would sometimes get seized with the the panic-inducing question: What The Fuck Am I Doing With My Life? And Where The Hell Am I Going?
Well, according to the cat, I’m sure to end up somewhere no matter what. Though of course we are all speeding somewhere whether we like it or not. Perhaps it’s better to have an actual planned destination in mind, or is it better to simply BE, and not worry about it. We’re going to get somewhere even if we don’t try. If it doesn’t matter to you which choices you make in your life and where you go, it shouldn’t matter to you at all where you end up.
Though for me, I am constantly asking myself: “which way ought I to go from here?” Maybe I shouldn’t torture myself with these types of questions, but my seething brain won’t stop asking. I reach a destination, accomplish a goal, and then the perplexing question arises again. And unlike Alice, I do actually care where I end up (I think). Well, I keep walking, and then walking some more. I think I walk a lot more than many, so I’m sure to get somewhere- if only I walk long enough.
Then there’s this guy: Nimblewill Nomad. He’s been actually hiking his ass off for nigh 15 years now, crisscrossing the North American Continent on foot. Across highways, deserts, swamps, mountains and freeway overpasses, this old codger has got to be the toughest dude on the planet. He has literally walked solo from Florida to Quebec. Rain, sun or snow does not slow him down, and he subsists almost exclusively off his Social Security checks. He thought he’d retire at 75, but then just started up again. Wandering the wilderness of North America in “a desperate search for peace”, as he calls it. Perhaps there really is no “peace” to be found when the curtain comes down, no rainbow at the end of the tunnel- but I like to think the journey is what’s more important. The Quest to seek it is what defines this septuagenarian, and perhaps is what should define us all. It can be physical movement, or internal self-reflection, but we could all do with a healthy dose of old-fashioned wandering from time to time.
MJ Eberhart – AKA Nimblewill Nomad – has become a legendary figure among fellow hikers, even having his toenails surgically removed to prevent infection
His backpack and it’s contents are basically his only possessions, but he sleeps in his pickup truck during the Winter months. In Nimblewill’s own words: “I tell my friends: every year I’ve got less and less, and every year I’m a happier man. I just wonder what it’s going to be like when I don’t have anything. That’s the way we come, and that’s the way we go. I’m just preparing for that a little in advance, I guess.”
I don’t know my friends, his story’s inspiring, but I’m just not able to do without a little material comfort at some point in my day, and I’m not a HUGE nature person. I like Glamping and drinking whiskey with friends, but not living without a roof over my head and running water. But I respect those folks who can live the lifestyle of a Zen Buddhist monk and make it work for themselves. They’re far more hardcore than me.
Seems like Nimblewill has found his path and is sticking to it, right until the very end and doesn’t really care very much when or how that happens. It doesn’t seem to matter at all which way he goes from here, so he’s bound to get somewhere. If only he walks long enough…
Or maybe he’s just batshit crazy- I’ll leave it to you to decide.
What about you- how minimalist are you willing to take it? How much discomfort can your limits withstand? Does reducing it all to zero make us happier? And does it matter which way you go from here?