I noticed something today, as the wind that so tormented me last night started to die and the sun started to set and the temperature started to cool. I noticed that we live our lives in such a way as we maintain a homeostasis, a set of constants that represent the goals of the “normal” in and of our society. There is a status quo of sorts most of us strive for. Life on the road is not that at all. Nope, not one little bit. Let me explain.
I thought about this as a way to process my windy and stressful night. As the elements kicked my ass and teased me and pulled me from my rest. I thought to when I lived in a house. I thought how that never happened in the same way. I thought about Indigenous cultures who lived outside and in the elements for generations. I considered both.
Europeans, historically, live indoors. We have an understanding of property and ownership and a sense of place. Our goal is to make that place the constant, the “thing” what will not change. I liken it to the thermostat of a house. These days, most houses have heat and air conditioning. There is a set temperature we strive to keep the house at. Homeostasis. Perhaps we adjust it a little for each season, let’s say we like it to be 70 in the winter and 75 in the summer. We have doors and windows to keep out the breeze, the rain, and the storms. We have shades to keep out the sun, and even the moonlight. We equip our living environment to keep all of the happenings of our natural world out. Light, temperature, rain, snow, wind. Generally, unwelcome inside.
I think about the millennia of cultures that lived outside. Currently, some still do, but that number wanes. I think about the temporary or transportable dwellings that were created and built, and yet these people were still in and of the elements and nature. Sure, I stay dry, but I have very little control over the temperature. The wind, well, we already talked about that. The cold and the heat and the bugs. The smells and the sounds are all still very much a part of where I live. Modern houses are created to keep those noises, smells, experiences OUT. Blocked out so that we are in at artificial environment at all times. We create and work hard to maintain our homeostatic world.
Admittedly, my way of life sucks at times. How I live can be a huge challenge and stress. Right now the only way for me to know the weather is to look at the sky, feel the temperature and smell the air. I can put on and take off layers of clothes as the weather changes. I can button up the tent to stay dry and mostly clean, or I can open it up to soak in the slightest cool breeze. Overall, I am unable to create a static living environment. I have no homeostasis. Then again, I can smell the rain well before it arrives. I can feel the sun on my skin and hear the wind thrash the tree tops. I can feel the temperature change when water is near and see the storms gather from miles away. I do not have homeostasis. I have nothing static in my weather or environment. Well, except for me being in it.
I think to myself that this is why I should get a camper. That will solve my problems. Perhaps, some of them. But, I will still be living in the out of doors. In the outside. In the elements, though better protected from most of them. I also realize how uneducated I am about the cultures that did live outside. Even here, where I am from, Native American tribes have deep and rich histories. The cultural events are many and there are grand efforts to pass traditions from generation to generation. Well, except for living outside. I do not see any of that these days. Perhaps I can learn more. Perhaps there is wisdom and knowledge, tips or tricks I can draw upon that can help me with this grand adjustment. Information to help ease the constant change that is my environment. The extreme lack of homeostasis.
Next time I am living with the internet, or spending time at a local library hiding from the heat, or have unlimited electricity, I will do some research. Perhaps I can read and learn about Indigenous cultures and how they lived outside. Perhaps I can tap into cultures from around the world who have histories as a nomadic or transient people. I am inspired to learn. I am cognizant that this is one of the challenges of my pilgrimage. It is a huge one. I am working on it. This is part of the reality I am choosing. These challenges come with the territory.
And yet…. it is these very challenges that are the essence of how I feel each and every day. I feel ALIVE. I feel like I am part of the world and not just watching it. I feel like I am having experiences and not just dreaming about them. This lack of homeostasis is the very thing that breathes life into my soul. Living a conventional life sucked out my essence. My home and my work were all designed to be homeostatic environments. Too hot? Open and window. Too cold? Turn up the heat. Too loud? Shut the window. Too quiet? Put on some music. Dirty? Take a shower. Tired? Take a nap. Well, not at work, but you get the idea.
I know I sort of complain, but not really. I am merely making observations when I share that my feet are filthy and smell. Eventually, I got a shower and got cleaned up. Not 24 hours later, my feet are dirty again and I am sweaty from the heat. But, this, THIS is the essence of life. This IS life. To be and see and do and feel the air and the sun and the water and the earth. Indigenous and transient cultures seem to have a profound reverence for all things in and about and of nature. Seeing and understanding as a way to live in and of their surroundings. This makes so much more sense now.
Common society is very much removed from all things that exist in our natural world. We have taken out the variances, the rhythms, the life blood of the world in which we live. To me, the grit and the grime and the sun and the wind ARE life. They are reminders of whence we came and to where we shall return. Sure, its hot, but then it cools. Yes, the wind blows and then it blows some more. But, then, the calm breeze is a comfort. The sun shines and the stars sparkle. I can see and hear and smell and touch the natural world every moment of every day.
That’s kind of cool.