Friday, February 25, 2011

The true life of the human being

I’ve just returned from days and nights in the wilderness. Returning to civilization from the wilderness is always a downer. Once again it's confirmed what is the true life of a human being.

We are pretty much asleep and forget so much in our dreary, civilized existence. No matter how aware you may be, no matter how much you fight against it (and I am fighting) you forget. Awareness is reduced, inevitably.

In the forest, in the wilderness I… wake up. I notice in countless small and big ways what it means to be alive, what it means to be Human. My senses improve, hearing, sight, smell and taste and the sense of touch, and what isn’t instantly noticed.


Everything is heightened. It feels like I’m high, except this is done without chemicals, and is far superior to it. Blood is surging through my veins and awareness is soaring.

Civilization has never really felt real or true to me, but on the contrary felt fake and false. There is no doubt in me what so ever what I prefer.

In my continued effort to harden myself, to improve my changes of surviving in nature, also during winter I spend nights and days there, also during subzero temperatures. I’ve lived outside up to eight months from March to November. The first year I did it I did it as research for my novel Thunder Road: Ice and Fire, which is about the anticipated collapse of civilization and a group of people attempting to survive in its aftermath. The next year I did it because I loved it. I set out to repeat the experience, but it felt even better. During those eight months I wasn’t sick a single day. After I moved back into a house I got sick after just a few days.

It is hard for a person that has grown up in civilization to readapt to a life in nature, the wilderness, but completely possible.

The biggest problem (among many), however isn’t really about surviving there, but about civilization itself, the fact that it’s still there. It becomes impossible to live in a forest that «developers», with their bulldozers excavators might set their eyes on at any time. Even the deep Canadian forests or the Amazon, biggest in the world aren’t safe, not in any sensible understanding of the word. So, you know civilization is coming for you. It’s just a matter of time. So you return to a place you despise. You can fight it by example, show people living in their coffins that the human being is still alive. But you also need to fight it, savagely within civilization itself, in technological arenas like the Internet. Nature is shrinking. We, current humanity are destroying the very foundation for our survival, are destroying everything making life worth living. That’s all I need to know, to fight the horrible Machine with everything I am. It should be sufficient for everybody, but most people are asleep today, most of all when they’re not sleeping. So they endure the horrible existence of civilization because they prefer to live a lie and not embrace themselves and what is clearly the true life of the Human Being.

So, returning to civilization is a downer, inevitably, but it is necessary. Becoming a hermit isn’t the right thing to do, not today. It becomes just another freak show in the current giant established and sickening media circus. I do my best to wake myself up as often as possible. My heightened awareness stays with me longer and is generally at a heightened level, but that is also a form of torture, because you can easily see everything Wrong, see how Wrong the current world is.

But I enjoy my awareness. I don’t shrink from it. Good and bad, great and horrible is better than numb and comfortably numb. I love the extremes of human life, so I am able to thrive, even in the torture chamber that is civilization (yes, I know, I, too, am deceiving myself. Everything, even what is right becomes Wrong, is turned outside in, downside up today).

But I know where I belong, and so do we all, deep down, below the countless layers of shit and poison and self-deception we are coated with in our pale, despicable modern existence.

More articles of many on the subject on Midnight Fire:


Beyond insane

Destroyers (III)

Just another oil spill

The vast and obvious dangers of modern existence

What's wrong with civilization?


Tailspin suicide run

Chemical cocktail

The World Grinder

Living in the wild



The technological glorification of technology

Not fit to sustain life



Any digging in your neighborhood?
Choices of Doom


Karen Martin Sampson said...

In late middle age I remarried after having spent most of my life in cities. My childhood summers were in the Bruce Penisula with grandparents living a more authentic life during those months. My new husband and I have chosen to live in a semi remote area of N. Vancouver Island, surrounded by forest and mountains and ocean near by. We have some modern creature comforts but have simplified and returned to a more natural way of living which many of our friends think is a bit odd. The world as it is going saddens us so much. You are right that we can't just pull in our heads and hide, although we would like to. We spread the word as best we can about what is happening and how to work to change that but most of it falls on deaf ears. Thanks for your writings.

Amos Keppler said...

There is only a short walk for me to the forest. I can reach it in ten minutes, which is certainly a great comfort. Sometimes I can even avoid meeting a car in the middle of the day, and at night it is quiet and so inspiring, even on the main road. It's amazing what silence can do for you sometimes.