Just Do It!

My goal in life is to walk away from Civilization and become a full-time hunter-gatherer-horticulturalist. To walk away from civilization means a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, dropping out of high school was one step towards dropping out of civilization. Refusing to go to college was another. Refusing to work for someone else for a living is another. Yet, for every step I take I feel as though there is something else that gets in my way, another pair of chains I must figure out how to get out of. This week it is two pair; desire for celebrity and running wilderness schools.

Acquiring material possessions is one of the ways we view success in Civilization. Those material possessions generally have to do with “earning” pieces of paper such as a report card, high school diploma, college degree, marriage certificate, automobile title, property deed or simply a paycheck. I have none of these.

There are other ways we view success in Civilization, such as fame or celebrity status. I was able to walk away from material possessions and bullshit certificates, but somehow I have been blind to the celebrity trap. I know that this has to do with the feeling of having to prove myself to my family and friends and culture. Even though they never asked me to prove anything, I wanted to prove that even though I didn’t get a high school diploma I was still “successful.” Of course, I hadn’t realized until recently that this form of “success” was still dreamed up by Civilization, for Civilization.

It seems as though these forms of success come from approval not from ones self or family, but from strangers. Grades are given by teachers, paychecks are given by bosses and fame is the sum of people who you don’t know, but who know you. Why is it considered successful to have strangers know who you are? We are constantly seeking approval from strangers. In place of a diploma I have newspaper clippings. “See! They write about me in the papers! I’m worth writing about!” Really though… worth what? To who? To the people who matter to me? Do they need articles to see my worth? I don’t think what strangers think about me should matter… I don’t think this anymore.

Of course there are ways of justifying the quest for celebrity. By telling myself it is for the purpose of “spreading the message,” about collapse, sustainability, primitive skills, etc. But is it really? Why should I care about spreading the message to strangers? What about my immediate family and friends? I would rather focus on how I relate to them and what I can do for them? Is my behavior truly justified? Even in the case of spreading sustainability, is there a better way than hearing it from your friends and family whom you know and trust, and what better way to spread information then to your friends and family? It seems to me that this justification is only one a martyr would use. Why sacrifice time you could spend maintaining your current relationships, by seeking approval from people you have no relation to? I think that this justification is simply made out of fear for leaving the comforts we have grown accustomed to in Civilization. At least, I know that’s where the fear came from in me.

I recently decided against doing the Urban Scout “Sunday School.” Why teach classes on wilderness survival? Is it for the money? If my goal is to hunt and gather and not need money than isn’t spending time running classes to get money hypocritical? What if I spent that time hunting and gathering with friends instead? Then I wouldn’t need money. It’s a paradox. It’s civilizations mythology furiously spinning it’s web trying to keep my psyche enslaved.
So why teach? Do I justify it the same way I do celebrity? That I do it to “spread the message?” Why spread it to strangers? Why not just invite your friends and family along with you and teach them? I think the idea of “wilderness schools,” like celebrity, are a distraction and fear of truly abandoning the civilized economy.

Another distraction of wilderness schools is taking classes from them. I still look at class schedules for schools like Tom Browns Tracker School. What I have noticed of many students of these programs, and in my own experience as a student, the students who go to these wilderness schools become dependent on them. Rather than seeking out relationships with people who practice primitive skills, we pay people money to teach us without having to build a relationship with them. I know everything I need to know at this point. What I need now is to get outside and start communicating with the land and start eating from it. I need to just do it. I’ve done the training, all that is left is the jump. I believe these moments in life are when the demons of fear, ridicule, self-doubt and distraction are the most powerful.

The only other justification for creating your own school, is escaping wage slavery. Becoming your own boss. The problem I have come across with every wilderness school is that they can never make enough money, so you spend so much time trying to get students and market your classes that you don’t have much time for hunting and gathering. Again, it becomes a paradox. At this point, I am lucky and have enough money and resources to live simply and have plenty of time for hunting and gathering. If I ever need money, I won’t ever need much. That’s one trap I may have to face again some day.

How many traps does Civilization have?

Do I really need a Myspace account? Why? Would I talk to all of my 850 friends without it? Do I know all of those people? Is it a way for me to stay in touch, or a way to feel like I am gaining Celebrity by “spreading the message.” Even if it is a way to keep in “touch,” is it an intimate way? Do I want to interact with people through the abstraction of a computer? No. (I just deleted it! 4 years of work on that stupid thing!) Cut the fat.

Do I really need a cell phone? Remember when you had all of your friends numbers memorized? Remember the freedom from constant surveillance? Remember making plans in advance? Do I really need people to be able to get a hold of me at anytime, anywhere? Do I really need to get a hold of people anytime, anywhere? What has this done to my psyche? Without a phone, without millions of acquaintances and strangers at the tips of our fingers, how would the relationships immediately around us change? While the quantity of relationships gets lower, does the quality of your relationships increase?

I think this blog is another trap to keep me from actually living the way I “want.” I think this is all an elaborate distraction dreamed up by my own inner civilized mythology, to keep itself alive. To keep me in ensnared in it. Even now my girlfriend, Sasha, is badgering me into getting off the computer. She keeps coming over and kissing me… but I’m still here typing… why? Who am I really documenting this project for? Do I need to document if for myself? No, I’m living it. Do I need to document it for my immediate relations? No, they’ll hear about it from me directly, or through mutual friends. Then it’s obvious that I’m documenting it for strangers, so that I can feel famous with the justification of “making a difference.” What makes a bigger difference; quantity or quality?

My view of success is much different these days. How did hunter-gatherers view success? From what I know, success to hunter-gatherers was a full belly and a happy family and environment. That is how I want to view success and/or achievement these days. Not by the number of hits my website has or the number of blogs I fill with mindless dribble but by relating to the people and land around me. What does this mean for the documentation of my project? I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, I don’t want to be anybodies hero but my own, my families and the land and it’s inhabitants that share it with me.

I have to let go of fear, let go of distractions and just do it.

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8 Comments on “<i>Just Do It!</i>”

  1. It is a sticky situation.

    On the one hand, we want to let go of the ego and simply experience life as it is. But, in order to do that, it is likely that we need a teacher. Does becoming a teacher mean that you have an ego? Only the teacher can answer that question. If you feel these trappings are holding you back, you should leave them behind. But, if you can carry them along without being weighed down by them, perhaps you can continue on as you have been to see how it works out?

    If no one taught you, how would your life be different right now?

  2. i understand where you’re coming from and all, but couldn’t a post civilization world still have the internet?

    seriously though, i hope you don’t completely walk away from it all, i would personally suffer by not being able to follow your quest, read your wisdom and learn from your experiences/mistakes, etc…so from a selfish personal standpoint, i wish you’d remain in contact with the “world” in some capacity.

    Col. Kurtz

  3. Teachers? The problem is that civilization has rid itself of those who can teach us “how to live”. Before civilization, we used to get that knowledge from our parents, from our leaders, from the tribe around us. It’s a problem I face every time I want to know something wild: if I were in a real leaver society, I would know this already, and even if I didn’t, I would know somebody who does know it that I could go talk to. But those people are rare in civilization.

    When I wanted to know about edible plants, I had to get books, seek out tour guides, scour the internet. It’s something I’ll have to keep learning. I can’t afford wilderness schools, and I kind of disdain the idea as well of people charging me for something that should be common human knowledge. I applaud them that they have broken out of the work slavery. But they’re still keeping a lock on the food, on the houses, on the clothing, on the tools by charging me vast sums of money to gain their knowledge among a group of strangers.

    Fuck celebrity, Scout. The wild game has completely changed. We can no longer just be wild humans who “know how to live”. We have to be taught, we have to have some source for this information. I believe that the closest thing I have to a tribe right now is the interconnectedness that comes through this computer. I don’t even know the people that live in the apartment next to me, but I feel pretty certain that they don’t “know how to live”.

    It sucks that the only tribe in existence for me is the eTribe. But now that I’m starting to find it, I don’t want to lose it. It’s great for you that you have the drive and place in life that gives you the freedom to shuck the chains of civilization. I don’t have that yet. And I’m not in a place where I can just start living in a debris hut. I hope to get closer to the point where I can get out from under civilization’s thumb. And you’re helping me do that.

    So, again I say, fuck celebrity. You are helping me. If you cut off your connection with me, then I’ll lose part of my tribe.

    You’re doing things that I want to do and can only dream of at the moment. But know that you are doing them, that they can be done will help me to do them some day.

    As long as civilization is there as a prison to be escaped from, we the prisoners will need somebody to help us break out of it.

  4. I don’t need you to be my teacher, Mr. UrbanSaviorScout. I came across your movie a while back, while crashing on Dave’s couch in Duvall for a week this summer. I think you’re nifty. I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I don’t think you should write your blog for other people, even if they *need* you. In fact, you especially shouldn’t write your blog for people who need you. You should write your blog if it makes you feel good. If having people know who you are makes you feel good, why shouldn’t you do it?

    If you were practicing your bowdrill and your girlfriend was trying to get your attention, would you feel guilty? One of the key lies that Civilization tells us is that if something feels good, it’s probably wrong. I think it’s likely that if something feels good, it’s probably good. Your body knows.

    It makes me feel good to read your essays. It’d be pretty cool if it made you feel good to write and share them. Sorta symbiotic…or maybe sorta like mutual masturbation (which is another thing Civilization wrongly tells us is a waste of time). But if you decide that you would feel better doing something else instead…well, whatever. I do, as a matter of fact, know how to live. Mutual masturbation is fun and all, but I’m totally capable of doing it myself.


  5. Hey Scout-
    I’ve gotta agree with everyone else. I look forward to reading your blog. It can be like listening to a good song. It makes me happy and want to do things. In fact when I tuned on the computer today after a few days off my first thought was not, “I hope I have some good email” or “I hope I have a new message on myspace” but I hope “Urban Scout wrote something new on his blog”. I swear it.

    Is it possible to give up the poor reasons you want to be a celebrity without actually actively cutting yourself off from the possibility? Why not do what you want and let the people decide!? Maybe it is enough even to simply recognize those reasons are there? After all nobody’s perfect. I’m not saying that you should spend all of your time trying to be a celebrity and talk to strangers if you would rather talk to your friends and family. But if it brings you a little bit of happiness to write your blog or teach a class or get an acticle in the paper, why not? If you find that getting rid of your phone and myspace and the sunday school makes you happy go for it, but if it’s something that makes you feel grave and you sorta have to force yourself to do it maybe you should think twice. Promise you won’t get too serious on us!

    There will always be charismatic leaders, alpha males and females. People are social animals. It’s okay to want to be popular. Civilization just makes it easier to be really, really, popular and to spend all your time on machines rather than interacting with real people.

    While I don’t disagree with there being leaders and followers, I think they are equally dangerous positions. People like Tom Brown Jr., charasmatic alpha leaders, because of their power have a tendency to get conceited, cocky, and even abusive. Followers meanwhile have the tendency to completely give up common sense and believe every word their guru of choice says. I respect Tom Brown, but sometimes he is wrong. OF COURSE he is. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just normal. So teachers don’t have to stop teaching and students don’t have to stop learning, but each side should be aware of these dangers.

    If you truly sacrifice time with friends and family that is one thing, but some of us (who still live with our parents) have quite a bit more time with our families than we would prefer. Also some of us do not have friends and family who appreciate our skills or have any interest in learning them. They may actively discourage us and call us crazy if they knew exactly what we were up to and how we felt about civilization. You are lucky to have friends in Portland that support you. Maybe you SHOULD spend more time with them!

    I use the internet not to seek celebrity but I do use it to meet people and stay connected. I’ve met at least 4 people on myspace that I later met in person. One is now my boyfriend and we are going on a winter survival camping trip next week, so sometimes these things work out. How do you know someone at your Sunday School wouldn’t be a future best friend? If you already have too many friends to make new ones, good for you. I don’t. I actually do have more real life friends because of the internet, without it I might have…zero. God i’m such a nerd.

    As far as documenting your projects on the blog goes, one reason I would write things down is it helps me think clearly and problem solve. I know I shouldn’t need help thinking straight, but given that I’ve been taught from a very young age to write things down, I kind of do need it. How many wilderness schools recommend journaling? A lot. Maybe someday I’ll give up writing but not now. Plus if you’re going to write it you might as well let someone read it. There might be answers to questions that we can give you that your friends and family just don’t know.

    Alright. Bye Bye!

    p.s. check it out. I’ve learned to make paragraphs.

  6. Shoot Scoot – I had looked forward to Sunday School for quite some time. Oh well. I cannott posibly fault you for doing as you please/love/wish/so on and so forth.

    & lets encourage all of those cuaght in the web of a meaningless self absorbed advertising fad to sacrifice the vile myspaces – bad mo jo. Step outside and say hi to someone. Much more gratifying than a dumb click. Which is what I’m about to do… on a button which reads SUBMIT…………………….

  7. PS – recently finished watching Mad MAx 2 : The Chase Continues for the first time, and I guess I was impressed by the feral sprat and his shiny boohmrang.