A life of courage, joy and independence.
I hope you’re doing well. To give a bit of background information about myself my name is Jesse, I’m a 19 year old male living in the U.S. I’ve been watching your videos for about half a year now, and like many others I’ve found a lot of value in what you had to say. It would be fair to say they even helped me through some tough times, giving me a bit of inspiration and perspective when I needed it. I feel like I have kind of been in limbo the past couple years, attempting new paths in life but not quite finishing through. For example I’ve attempted to join the military, move to a different state, etc, but I seem to wind up back where I started. Some of these choices have been in desperation, I won’t hassle you with all the details but I’ve been stuck in an unstable environment I guess you could call it, and I’ve felt like I have no way out. I think that my problem is I don’t know what’s true or false, what matters and what doesn’t. I often question if things are actually important, or just useless and arbitrary. This could be an experience I’m having or something I’m learning, I wonder if it’s “real” or not, in the sense of it actually having value.
These feelings are very hard to put down into words, so I apologize if it all sounds like the rambling of a crazy person. I know that in reality nothing has “value”, it’s simply what we choose to give importance. Reading about the Path of Wildness in particular has rung true with me, and it’s what I’m relating my current situation to. Reading your words allowed me to cut away my mental defenses and excuses, and I know what am afraid of. The fear of being truly alone, never able to connect meaningfully with another individual and the thought that we will fade away without anyone truly caring. These are things that I feel we all fear. I don’t have a particularly large fear of death itself, and the fact that I will return to the nothingness that I was ( or wasn’t ) before my birth is sometimes even comforting. I want to find my own personal “happiness” and path, whatever that may mean to me. I want to be content with my surroundings and my relationships, to know that what I’m doing means something to me regardless of whether it matters or not.
Cutting back to my current situation, I’ve been stuck in these unstable environments for a while now and have been getting more and more desperate to escape somehow. Recently it had gotten so bad where I started to have constant anxiety, even a small sound or sign of conflict arising once again could set me off. A few weeks ago I reached out to a family friend and informed him of my situation, who offered to allow me to live with him. Afterwards I noticed the surroundings didn’t effect me so much, I started having thoughts such as “Is it really so bad here?”. The person I’m living with doesn’t want me to leave, and their words have the power to strongly pull me back. I have a job where I currently live now, and that has kept me distracted and busy. I wonder why I feel this why then, is it the uncertainty of leaving? Am I afraid to take the step forward? Some of the things I fear are it not working out, having to leave and then ending up in worse place then the one am I in now. The family member I live with is also in the same situation, and even though they are the one that has caused it I feel some guilt and sadness leaving them behind. Reading about the Path of Wildness once again, it all linked to my current questions. The facts can be so certain, yet my mind resists them, even giving me new feelings to avoid this coming change. When thoughts of change and leaving spring up, my heart races and what I think is true quickly evaporates.
I do not feel completely without direction, there are a few things I would like to do in my life but it’s heading down those paths that is the hard part. I’m taking online college courses now and moving would allow me to take them physically since I would be within biking distance. I’ve always liked the outdoors and nature, even if I haven’t spent all that much time in it. I used to watch documentaries on Animal Planet or Discovery and think “Wow, if only I could do that…”. So when trying to decide something to go to school for it seemed sort of natural, I want to eventually get a degree in Wildlife Biology or Zoology. I’ve also had a strong interest in Japan like many who watch your videos, and someday I would like to give living there a try. I’ve also had some interest in joining the military, although I guess that is kind of on hold for now. Anyways, sorry if this went on for way too long and I made you read an essay. I don’t expect you to give me all the answers or solve my problems for me, I just wanted to be and honest and to thank you for creating the Path of Wildness and your videos. I hope that I have indeed spoken plainly, and would gladly hear any thoughts or advice you may have. I hope that I too can decide what is right for me, without letting the fear of the unknown and getting a little bloody and bruised block my path.
Based on our current understanding of the universe both you and I are nothing more than energy turned to matter which then filtered through a long chain of events and transitions to eventually become us. We’re here for the briefest of moments and aware of this fact for a shorter period still. Distractions are many as are the biases of our biology which manifest themselves in our instincts, emotions, social desires as well as the larger influences of our families, communities, societies and the ages during which we live. I expect that the consciousness which now nags your mind and asks after things like meaning, purpose and fulfillment was not necessarily an end in its own in the selective forces which drove the evolution of our species’ big brains. Being smart and clever was likely the trait which rewarded our distant ancestors and began the rise of large brains which gave us an adaptive advantage over our predecessors who relied more on instinct than thought and reason. Eventually though we began to turn the tool of thinking towards the questions of why we are here. With our bellies full of food and while relaxing around the safety of a warm campfire we could look up into the night sky and ask after the reason we are here and what purpose there may be. This is the situation you are in now, though fast forwarded many millennia from those early first human thinkers.
If you are struggling and stumped by the questions which now arise in your mind then come and join the club of the countless who before and who now wrestle with the same. As you have probably noticed, there are some who do not seem to be very troubled by these issues. These folks are either not very interested in the questions or they have already found some answer to silence their curiosity. Life is rich and diverse, with many opportunities to live well without distraction from the questions of meaning. My own wife is one who enjoys filling her days with the details of being a wife, mother, daughter and community member. She isn’t much interested in the questions of why she is here or what she should make of her life situation, and instead simply moves from one day to the next, knowing that it must all come to an end yet not fretting very much over this point or any other. The other sort who find some orthodox truth to call their own may be motivated to do so by way of tradition or a wish to pass the job of asking and answering such questions to some authority who they can follow and abide.
If neither of the paths described above is a fit for your interest or disposition then I’d like to invite you to come stand out in the cold with me. For that is really what it is, a resolve to not turn inward to some warmer, safer climes but instead to put our feet in motion to take us out and away from comfort and into areas of uncertainty. If you come this way then you should be ready to be alone as there are few who can offer you any real company or solace here. There are also few to no answers which you can expect to quell the questions or the sense of longing for satisfaction and understanding. You must be ready for a lifetime of cold struggle, through a wilderness of the unknown. That said, please don’t despair, as adventurers like us rarely lump our time in the difficult, lonely and forsaken places as something to be pitied or regretted. This is hardly true. In fact, I for one relish the trial and would feel my life less rich and joyful were I not forever in doubt and shivering with some chill and fear even as I cross through strange and alien lands both real and in my head. I can’t promise you peace, joy or companionship though I can point the way to others who will offer you these things if you want them. The route I’ve taken is one which demands the utilization of innate faculties which were your birthright and which the use of alone is something possessing of a quality not unlike purpose – though it is not. I recommend the journey though you must go alone and may never know another along the way though you may sometimes see, know and love your true kindred during your concurrent living in the society of men.
Don’t be afraid though fear be your constant companion and guide through the brief moments of your living, towards and into the coming eternal night.
Good luck friend,