There are only so many nights you can spend alone in isolation out in the wilderness before your brain fully discards all the faulty wirings imprinted by Hollywood’s horror movies.
What’s left is this primal realization that human is a very vicious predator perched pretty high up on the food chain. Further arm him with tools and he ends up right at the top of the food chain.
It is easy to forget about this fact when you have spent much of your life living in the city amongst other men following man made rules while attempting to play “civilized”.
Between groups of men there always exist collaboration and competition for resources extracted from nature. There also exist this constant jostling of position, usually labelled “politicking”, to gain more of these resources while exerting the same amount of effort. The bulk of the “stress” of “modern life” stems from “acquiring” what you need through the collective efforts of the group.
Between men and nature, the relationship appears simpler. The rules are pretty much fixed at the on set by nature. Man’s primary task is to figure out if the season is conducive for the activity being undertaken. Nature’s feedback is usually pretty immediate.
The Van Life idea seems like an ember that will eventually grow to become like what manifested as the Hippies movement of the 60s, the Burning Man festival and before that the Scouts movement.
One recurring theme observed between Van Life and Burning Man is the notion of “Coming Home”, where man steps away from the artificial construct he spent generations building up to finally return to nature.
Humans in the aggregate do behave somewhat like a self adjusting thermostat forever oscillating between extremes.
One of the primary fear of the future an average man has stems from the “abstract idea” of how physical discomfort would feel like during old age just prior to the point of death and how terrible it might be.
This primary fear is the main driver behind the average man’s continued effort to accumulate resources of various forms. It is done with hopes to alleviate that “discomfort” when it does eventually come.
The problem with that mode of thinking is the future is unknowable and man ends up wasting his precious limited life span over provisioning, not to mention it’s overall negative impact on the environment.
An alternate approach as practiced in various ascetic traditions is to steadily build the ability to keep equanimity at various thresholds of discomfort through daily practice. This curtails over-provisioning , frees up precious time to do more meaningful stuff and is generally good for the environment.
– Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
– Vipassana mediation
– TaoDeChing, Lao Tze
– The Tiger’s Cave, Trevor Leggett
– Zen mind, Beginner’s mind, Shinryu Suzuki
– The book of five rings, Musashi