An Adventure Filled Life–Thru-Hiking the Colorado Trail
(Today will be the second post from Venture who is Thru-Hiking the Colorado Trail. After we hear from him, I will share my thoughts on An Adventure Filled Life)
I just arrived in Salida today! Here is an update for you! (Editors Note: When walking such long distances you can’t carry all your supplies with you. Instead, you arrange for them to be waiting for you at Mail Drops along the Trail where your resupply and communicate with the world.)
Tramping along the Colorado Trail is one of the most sustainable ways to spend 30-50 days of your life! No carbon emissions, no water, electrical, gas or trash bills! Your water is direct from nature’s tap (filtered and or treated of course in most situations). Your light source is the headlamp on your head run by 3 AAA batteries, your shelter is in the pack on your back! The rain washes away any evidence of your passage and no one will ever know you camped in that magical spot! Leave no trace and enjoy some of our countries most beautiful landscape.
I have completed 232 miles of the Colorado Trail on my own two feet! Rocking the Brooks Cascadia on my trampers!
See them at Amazon.com: Brooks Men’s Cascadia 8 Trail Running Shoes
I find hiking helps me meditate! I find rhythm as I move across the land and the fresh air fills my lungs. My mind becomes clear and I fully believe that I am in my element. Bringing my life back to the basics of waking, eating, walking some more, eating and lying down to sleep makes me feel centered. The muscles in my legs are strengthened day by day! I catch glimpses of the natural world around me in ways I never thought possible!
Finding Happiness in Adventure
I’m reading a book by Max Vance called “The Adventure Filled Life” and in it he talks about three different models people use to find happiness. (Available on the Kindle for $3.99 at WARNING about half the book is filled with hatred toward his ex-wives, it’s awful, so only get it if you can just ignore that part of the book:)
The Adventure-Filled Life Collection: Books of Empowerment
He says the three models are:
Happiness by Accumulation: You try to buy happiness by following the American Dream and you keep accumulating MORE of everything. First you get a wife, kids and a job. Then you climb the ladder at work and get a bigger house, better car, more stuff, better stuff, more toys, better toys, more security. You try to find happiness by getting More of everything.
Happiness by Self Denial: this stood out to me in the comments about last weeks post on Thru-Hiking. Several readers wrote in to let me know that they were very happy with their lives because they had sacrificed it for their families. Only a selfish person would be out playing and hiking instead of providing for his family. In many comments there is an underlying feeling that they are proud that they didn’t live a happy life and anyone who did should actually be ashamed. I also see this model of happiness in some peoples insistence on minimalism. They believe the only way to be happy is to have LESS stuff.
Happiness by an Adventure Filled Life: This is the model that our friend Venture is following and that I try to follow as well. The idea here is forget about having more or less stuff. No amount of getting or not getting stuff can make you happy. Happiness has nothing to do with stuff, Instead put your emphasis on experiencing life. Happiness is found in connecting with people, connecting with nature, seeing new things, embracing new experiences and new sensations. Life is about learning and blooming, not things, not sacrificing.
Now I am going to tell you my opinion of the three choices. As you read this, remember, I am only speaking for myself and I do not intend to belittle your ideas or beliefs if they are different from mine. I do not mean to say yours are wrong and mine are right. I only want to tell you my opinion. After hearing it, you are completely welcome to think I am wrong–because I might very well be!
Trying to be happy by accumulation can’t work, it will never make you happy! And that isn’t just my opinion, there is a huge amount of scientific research verifying that accumulating more does not make you any happier than living with little. Beyond that, it is common sense. We have all had many experiences with getting what we want and it never really makes us happy for long. Very quickly we just move on to the next thing we simply must have. The human heart is designed so that as soon as it gets what it wants it immediately starts wanting something more and different.
God wants you to be happy! I know that to some of you those are blasphemous words, but they are words I live my life by. When I started living like my main purpose in life was to be happy, my life drastically changed for the better. I don’t believe in sin, but if I did, I believe one of the greatest sins is to deliberately reject happiness and embrace mediocrity and drudgery. And a life based on self-denial is just that; the rejection of happiness. How evil is the parent whose goal for their children is to be sure they are unhappy? How evil is the God who only wants his children to be good and the only way to be good is to be unhappy? If you have been reading this blog for long, you know I have dedicated my life to serving the vandwelling community. I totally believe there can be little happiness that is not shared with others and to be kept it must be spread around. But I insist on being happy and serving is simply another aspect of being happy. They are not opposing ideas, they are the opposite side of the same coin: Yin and Yang.
The Adventure filled life is the only one that has worked for me. I have alternated between the other models all my life. I went to college to become a preacher but that left me empty and unhappy so I threw myself into accumulating more stuff by getting married, having kids and buying a house. But I still wasn’t happy, so I went back to church and sacrificed for God and family. But nothing had changed and it didn’t work. I went through that cycle my whole life until I found vandwelling. And then a discovered a whole new path. A path of trying to be happy in the moment and experience life deeply right now. Happiness wasn’t to be found in stuff, either by a crazy chasing after it or a frantic denial of it. I finally found happiness by following my heart and having a right perspective on stuff as seeing it as only a means to that end. My heart told me happiness was found in freedom, and connecting to nature. Vandwelling brought me the means to make that happen.
As always, the best way is the middle-way of balance, embracing elements of all three. But if you are going to err, be sure to err on the side of an Adventure filled life.
I encourage each of you to examine your heart and find what makes it sing. What are you passionate about: what do you love? A life of Adventure is one that follows your heart wherever it leads. Maybe it will be thru-hiking. Maybe it will be boondocking in a van in nature. Maybe it will be something totally different. Whatever it is, find it!! And when you do, follow it with every fiber of your being and don’t stop until you have it!
“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live.
And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do.
Otherwise…you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.”
It is good that you have found something to do with your life that you enjoy.
But…. when I see the word “sustainable” in the same paragraph as “AAA batteries” I have to wonder who is fooling who.
Enjoy your walk…
Compared to the average American, a few triple A batteris is living a very sustainable life.
The triple A battery is America. It’s the tail end of a very long industrial support system intertwined with a very complex logistical system.
I’m not judging, just amused.
Rob, I have found that perfection is generally the mortal enemy of very good. There are few ways of living more sustainable than thru-hiking. So as far as I am concerned the fact that is it is only 80% sustainable doesn’t mean it is undesirable. It’s still 100,000 times more sustainable than the traditional American life.
Would this gentleman be able to go thru-hiking without the traditional American life supporting infrastructure around him?
We are all so intertwined in this modern world that many things would be nothing like they are without that quiet background work going on.
Could he do this without the AAA batteries? Probably. Could he do this with out the transportation system to move his supplies ahead of him? Maybe, but not like he’s doing it now.
Somebody HAS to maintain the roads.
Would there be “vandwellers” without the road system?
We are all in this together….
I agree completely with you Rob. Specialization is at the heart of civilization. One of it’s primary goals is to make us each so dependent on the whole that we loose all possibility of true independence. They have succeeded, we are helpless little children.
My goal is to be as independent as possible, but I have no expectation of true self-sufficiency, it is next to impossible. But, I want to do all I reasonably can to escape.
This is wonderful to read. So inspiring!
Thank you for this message this wonderful morning!
“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
― John Muir
I’d like to recommend a great book that underscores how good living in nature is – not just good, but critical to health. “Your Brain on Nature” – available at Amazin – I’m reading it and find it to be fantastic – results from scientific studies that prove living close to the natural world is the best way for health, happiness, and peace.
Desert Rat, I also have read it and I consider it life-changing. Everyone should read it!
I’ve also tried all three different paths to happiness, and so far the only one that works is the adventure filled one! You only get one life to live, if you aren’t enjoying every day of it you’re a fool.
Cyrus, I wouldn’t put it quite that strongly, but I basically agree. The problem isn’t wisdom, it is frear. Most of us can’t quite overcome in it so we go along to get along. You are a man who has faced his fear and overcome it (anybody who signs up to be a Marine, has conquered his fear!). Most of us can’t, and some never do. Being someone strongly driven by fear, I am more sympathetic than you are!
Bob, I came across this fascinating article and thought of you immediately. After reading it, I am convinced that coercion–in parenting, education, employment, religion, and government–is at the root of most of our culture’s ills. I have rebelled against coercion all my life, but couldn’t figure it out until now… and always felt there must be something wrong with me. Now I know better.
Societies With Little Coercion
Have Little Mental Illness
Very interesting article – thanks for sharing. I’ve passed it on to several also.
LaVonne, you are right, that is right up my alley, I’m going to spend some tmie reading it and looking into his other writings! Thanks!!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Broaden it to all people, and these are the words to live by. My rule is to harm none, then I can do as I please. Too bad so many people are crabs and pull the escapees back into the pail. Freedom to pursue happiness requires a bit of balance to allow others to do the same but it is the best life to have. Really love this post.
Bob, I downloaded the free sample chapter of The Adventure-Filled Life, expecting to be inspired but instead, most of it was full of bitterness against Western women and aspirations to have a “tan, young, Asian woman” sharing your hammock.
I’m sure there’s a lot of good in the book but the misogyny really turned me off. I won’t be buying it.
Yup, he even says in the preface it’s a guide to “masculine fulfillment.”
He apparently forgot that half the human race is women (actually, a hair more than that) and that women buy way more books than men. That’s why what could’ve been a great book sits at the 600,000 mark on Amazon, not very popular. And the other books people (men) bought after looking at this one are basically about how to attract women. Guess what, dude, treating women as equals is the number 1 key for that. Good idea, bad presentation. Bob, what are you smokin’ down there? (meant to be a gentle poke)
Desert Rat, I have to apologize, I liked his ideas about adventuring so much I simply overlooked his hatred toward women. That was a MISTAKE! I just put in a warning about it to the post.
You’re right LaVonne, it is really terrible how much of the book is filled with his bitterness toward his ex-wives. I just ignore all that shit and took the good. But I should have given a warning about it.
I just put in a warning about the anti-woman slant of the book. If you can ignore that, it is worth buying.
Bob, why bother to even mention this book in your blog? Isn’t sexism and hatred towards women just as bad as racism? Why would you recommend any part of a book that contains hatred towards part of the human race? Would you say a book is partially OK and you should buy it if you can ignore repeated racism in it? I doubt it – so why would this be different?
Desert Rat, you make a good point. But maybe we have overstated the case. He hates the institution of marriage, which I agree with. He thinks being monogamous for life is a bad idea, which I also basically agree with. He abhors the idea that sex is sacred and only for the married or for people in a committed relationship. Which I also agree with.
So I agree with nearly all his basic assumptions. Had he made those points with much less passion I would have been fine with the book. But he lets his hate for his ex-wives bleed through and so all you see is that hate. I don’t think he hates women, just his ex-wives and the institutions of marriage and monogamy.
I also understand that kind of hatred for someone. I’ve said often in this blog that my Higher Power has performed many miracles in my life. The greatest was when she/he/it removed all my hatred for my first ex-wife. One moment I hated her in exactly the same way he hates his ex-wives, and the next all I had was compassion for her and regret for the way I had treated her. Only a miracle could make that happen for me, so I don’t hold it against someone who doesn’t have miracles in their lives.
Finally, he puts a lot of emphasis on “getting lucky” and getting laid. Some feminists would say that makes him an evil person. It could make him evil, but not necessarily. Today there is a new movement called “Polyamory” which basically agrees 100% with him and there are just as many women choosing it as men. I personally know 3 polyamorous women vandwellers. I am inclined to agree with the idea. The most modern Anthropology agrees with the idea. Our best understanding is that marriage as an institution began 10,000 years ago with domestication/civilization and is an unnatural state for humans.
So I can argue all his points for him, but I will come from a place of reason and not emotion. You may disagree, but at least you won’t hate me. So at this point I recommend the book for it’s wisdom on adventure and you just have to tolerate his passion about women.
Is Venture and Max Vance same person? You write like that is the case? I’ve just read the free chapter at Amazon. I agree that there seems to be some wisdom there. I agree with you, Just pick raisins from the cake and leave the rest.
Thanks Bob for all the interesting ideas you share with us!
Per-Gunnar, no, not at all. Max Vance writes books and I happened to read one of them. Venture is a young vandweller adventurer I met recently.
I love the raisin analogy. I CAN learn from everybody! Some teach me things I want to follow, and some teach me things I want to avoid. Max taught me both!
A book that tells us it’s ok to do what feels good and doesn’t hurt anyone else?! Too funny.
Seems like everyone got the memo on how writing a book is the ticket to financial freedom these days.
But, Venture is certainly a good example of making a choice that appeals to his sense of wonder and fun. As robotics and technology create a society that needs less and less labor, perhaps people will start to see things differently?
Lol at all these claims of misogyny in Venture’s book. As if acknowledging the male’s sexual happiness equals misogyny or anything close to it. The man merely speaks the truth. Sorry if that’s too real for some readers here.
I’m inclined to agree McBeef. My problem isn’t with what he says, it is how he says it. He comes across as hating and belittling women and that their only value is as sex partners, so as soon as they get old and fat, you dump them. That is offensive!
I think if you had a chance to talk to him he doesn’t mean that, he is just going for shock value. But he comes across very badly and it seems reasonable that many women are offended by him. See my reply to Desert Rat.
Yeah, in this case I think it’s all about reading between the lines. To anyone out there in the world with half a brain, it should be obvious that women offer much more than what may be suggested in Venture’s book. I believe he’s just offering up a perspective that isn’t much talked about in modern day society, and talking about it in a way that is definitely left of center.
With $1000.00 per month, you can live like a king in Thailand and happy too. Millions American men live there. Why not! It’s adventure at the same time. No need to read books how be to happy, because you know what make happy.
Patrick, funny you should say that, today’s post is abut an expat who lives in Thailand on a small fixed income. Having made a friend like him who lives there I am making plans to visit it myself.
Bob, I’m unclear about a couple of things. You summarize a few readers emails as, “Several readers wrote in to let me know that they were very happy with their lives because they had sacrificed it for their families. Only a selfish person would be out playing and hiking instead of providing for his family”, and go on to redefine their lives for them as unhappy. Can’t we each choose what brings us happiness in life?
Two, as for the chart listing the different approaches that one may take to life, you apparently feel that each of the three is a reasonably accurate description, which makes the “adventure-filled life” the obvious road to take. There are serious perks in parenting, but at its core, parenting is an exercise in self-sacrifice. This is a bad thing? As men, are we to impregnate and move on to the next “adventure” or what? Consistently ignoring ones own needs brings unhappiness, but I guess I find the negative depiction of being willing to be inconvenienced for another person’s welfare to be troubling.
1) Somehow you didn’t get the memo, I alone get to define happiness for others.
2) I can only speak for myself, I look back at my life turning my children into good little wage-slaves as a totally selfish act. I sacrificed their lives because I was too afraid to actually live in defiance to society. Had I been thinking of them instead of myself and how I could make my life easier by conforming, I would never have wished my miserable life as a wage-slave on them. But of course I can’t change it now, all I can do is chalk it up as my own ignorance and cowardice.
If you can honesty say your life has been a delight and you are very glad you turned your children into what you were, then you won’t have those regrets and you are a very lucky man that I admire.
But the children grow up into adults who can choose their own path just like we did. At some point, it becomes up to them to decide what their life will be. With this declining economy, more and more are forced to figure out something different. Isn’t the mark of good parenting raising children who aren’t afraid to explore the world and think independently? Like the free-thinking atheist who is appalled to find that their adult child decides to embrace some religion – it becomes up to the child to follow their own path. or vice versa.
Mary, that is my point exactly. Every second of our lives from cradle to the grave we are taught to toe-the-line and be wage slaves. The American Dream is the ONLY way to live. Any other way is weird, crazy and unacceptable. It it doesn’t matter if it is miserable–JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I didn’t know any other way so I taught my children that by words and by deeds. I was a perfect example of a wage-slave.
I told myself I was making a sacrifice for them, but I was kidding myself. I was sacrificing them as an act of worship on the alter of the “God of Consumption and More”.
And I succeeded, they grew up to be good little wage slaves and they too worship at the alter of the “God of Consumption and More”. Now they think I am weird and crazy. They have no concept that their world is the insane one. I brainwashed them so well, they can’t hear anything else.
I have decided that for me (not for anyone else on the planet–just for me) SETTING AN EXAMPLE TO YOUR CHILDREN THAT CONFORMITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING HAPPY IS A COLOSSAL MISTAKE! Fuck conformity! Now that’s a worthy lesson to teach your children.
I can hardly say my life has been a delight, in that I was very, very foolish in matters of the heart, ignoring smack-in-the-face warning flags. But I was arrogant and overly idealistic. And I reaped the inevitable consequences.
My work life was pretty darned good, in that I enjoyed it greatly and got to use my skills (such as they are) and learn more stuff as I went along. Sometimes I was amazed they actually paid me money for having fun.
My goal for my kids was simply that I somehow equip them with the ability to one day make their own way in the world, because I wasn’t going to live forever. Much to my relief, they are doing just that, each in their own way, and each more cleverly and more maturely than I ever did. Naturally, I credit myself for that. Yeah.
I wouldn’t really get the meaning of your “wage slave” outlook until age discrimination hit (because I had no interest in becoming a manager), and I had to start filling in with minimum wage service jobs. Wow, they’re a far cry from career work in treatment and the hope of something better. But I didn’t want my kids to live in that, and they haven’t. One is not doing what she really wants (change in plan), but is sapping the corp for training and courses to get where she intends to go, and is taking advantage of other benefits to the hilt while she can. The other has miraculously found a way to get actual money for using his freakishly good artistic ability on his own terms and, I’m told, will expect to earn far, far more in year two than I did in my glam years. Ow. Good thing, as he lived just as he wanted to (adventure!) and then settled down to marry and have a family. He’s nearly always been self-employed, and it’s finally gelling for him.
Wage slaves? I guess it depends on one’s definition. Each is so much more aware and thoughtful about what they are doing than I was (and am) that I’d be proud to claim that “I turned them into what I was”. But I can’t claim that and keep a straight face. However, you may still reverence me from afar, if you wish.
I think if one is following one’s dream or passion and still getting modest needs met through it, there’s no such thing as wage slavery. Harness your abilities and enjoy what you do. If you can get someone to pay you decently for it, so much the better. Workwise, I’ve been the luckiest guy on the planet. Romantically, a walking disaster. I thankfully didn’t pass that part on.
The best thing will be that when I’m a doddering old man (I’m not actually doddering yet) then I can use the guilt ploy to talk them into letting me live out in the toolshed. I may write you for advice on satellite TV and insulation about then.
Not to understate the importance of anyone’s concern about the way women are treated, and the way western men act, but when it comes to certain aspects; life’s a two way street.
This will explain what I mean.
Wayne, the times are a changing!
When one is the object of a man’s hatred towards women and promotes using women as servants to meet his pleasure, one has a negative reaction to that especially when one is educated and rejects that old meme. I’ve heard lots of men use the excuse for poor treatment of women as it is natural for men. I suppose one can also find men for whom it is natural to murder, but do we laud them?
In my experience, the vast majority of men like women and do not mind making room for them in their lives. In fact, the surveys show that most men like to be married and when they find themselves not married, quickly get back into that state again, sometimes foolishly. Far more men want a second marriage than women, indicating that modern marriage is actually more beneficial to men than it is to women. These pick-up artists might find their one night stands with their tired lines but they don’t appreciate women for being people. And women who are more than their lady parts don’t much like men like that unless they happen to be in a stage where they just want a quickie too.
Yes, there is a small movement for polyamory for both sexes but it is a very small part of the population and few marriages survive it. Traditionally most poly societies are distinctly one sided with men allowed to own several obeisance women but never the other way around. In those societies, women are chattel and have few rights.
And I do not think there is anything but someone’s hypothesis that marriage is only 10k years old. There is no objective data to support that supposition. That is in the arena of we really don’t know. All we know is that our paleolithic ancestors lived in small tribes and that they made a lot of stone Venus items of very obese and pregnant women. It is quite a stretch to go from that to polyamory was the norm. No data does not mean you get to make up “facts.” It would be more rational to assume that paleolithic men preferred obese women, but we don’t know that either.
I also think his list is pretty one-sided. He has the emotional maturity of a 16 year old. Does he ever take responsibility for his part in his failed marriages? His hatred for his ex-wives says no. And even if they were as awful as he paints them, he still must take the responsibility of why he chose them, why he falls in love with women who he hates? In a marriage, there are no innocents. It is a feedback loop that may enrich lives or tear them apart. If you find someone who is also your best friend, you are one of the lucky ones and find this kind of misogyny to be very bad advice. If you had a bad marriage and never face up to your part in the bad dynamic, you will never learn and never be able to change it.
There is such a thing as life set ups being right in one period of one’s life and not in another period. If no one took the sacrifices (and pluses) to raise our very slow developing children, we would quickly expire as a species. That is a very natural part of being human, or being any mammal. We are all too successful in that (7 billion and counting). That doesn’t mean that someone who spent 30 years following that path and loved it wouldn’t want to follow an entirely different path later and find that just as rewarding or more so. Or not.
It is also true that what is good for one person is not necessarily good for another. There are many who do not thrive with an adventurous life. They need more security and I would wager that they are in the majority. Others, such as myself, do thrive and seek adventure, whether physical challenges or mental. But I never did find pick up artists to be anything but icky and usually dumb. There are many paths to following your bliss as Joesph Campbell said.
His lists are incomplete. Each of his 3 ways also have pluses in addition to minuses. The adventurous life also has more minuses than he lists. In other words, his book is an exercise in self-justification rather than a real map to help find one’s best life.
I liked Bob’s comments much more than what he quoted from the book. At first, I didn’t even bother to look at the book for this reason. And Bob, ceasing to hate an ex-spouse is the true measure of emotional healing. If you hate someone, you are as emotionally involved with that person as if you love them, only with mostly negative effects to oneself. Indifference is the opposite of love, not hate.
Mary, the list in the table is entirely mine. I took his idea of the three methods and created the list. I do have the emotional maturity of a 16 year old, there is no doubt about that!
One of the few good tings about imperialism is that it was usually the explorers and scientists who went into an area first and they usually did a good job of recording the lives of the First Peoples who were already there. Of course later the good civilized people sent in the soldiers and the religious people who slaughtered and enslaved the First Peoples like the horrible monsters good civilized men are. From those first contacts we have gained a very good picture of hunter-gatherer life. And it is so different from civilized life that none of our institutions can be transferred to them. Nothing you know about your life will transfer to their life. That includes marriage. One man and one woman never raised a child. Literally the entire clan raised every child. We love to mock the saying of “it takes a village to raise a child” but that is literally the way they did it. Their concept of ownership and boundaries was totally different than ours and that includes “marriage.”
I think that for the most part we believe the same things, we just are saying them differently.
The First Peoples were not the same as our paleolithic ancestors. They were for the most part neolithic same as in Europe starting some 10k years ago or 8000 BC. Neolithic = agricultural stone age. Also, there were many different societal set ups in the First Peoples. Some were matriarchal and others were patriarchal. It is a mistake to think that they were all alike. The family groups did do quite a bit of communal child raising but so did those in Europe prior to the last century, especially in the peasantry. In a way we still do with the advent of schools and daycare – that is communal child rearing of a sort.
Great post, Bob! I love your table showing the three different models. It makes it so easy to see where I went wrong in the past and where I’m going right now. It can be hard to be “weird” or to not follow the norm, but I find that it’s a far more rewarding life.
Thanks Gennifer! I made up the table for that very reason. Of course it is extreme and most of us live in a balance of the elements, But I think you are totally right, seeing it that black and white makes it easier to see where you fit on a scale. Hopefully it opens people up to self-examination.
Ultimately all happiness in life begins with the first truly honest look we take at ourselves and our circumstances.