Three years ago today I got dropped off in the woods (at an old fallow farm) with my four dogs, minimal gear, minimal money etcetera ad infinitum all the shit I have spelled out dozens (or more) times before to convey just how fucking insane of a journey that I had begun...which never quite conveys what it was really like to do what I did.
At this point I have entirely quit trying to explain it to folks because I realized that they absolutely lack any real framework to understand what the fuck I am even talking about, the challenges I faced along the way and ultimately the loss that I felt when that particular chapter of my life came to a close due to circumstances beyond my control.
When I watched the tail lights of my friend's vehicle fade away into the distance on that Friday the thirteenth three years ago I realized two things: One was that it was quite the auspicious way to start a journey on a Friday the thirteenth accompanied by a full moon and second that no matter what there was absolutely no turning back from what I had gotten myself (and the dogs) into so I better just make the fucking best of it because no matter what I did it was going to be one long hard winter.
As much as I would like to romanticize how I came about being in that particular scenario...I cannot and will not do so because when it comes down to it I just did not have anywhere else to go and it was a sheer act of desperation on my part just to have somewhere to 'live' or at least a close approximation to 'living.'
I of course had a plan and as far as plans go it was neither all that good nor all that bad but alas it was a plan. Since the property lacked any other inhabitants, electricity, potable water or really any infrastructure at all I thought it was an excellent opportunity to document my life and what all I do as someone that has 'lived on the edge' as a property caretaker (land steward) for a number of years in what would amount to most folks as 'sub-standard' conditions. I also wanted to share my private life with some friends just so they could perhaps gain some insight into a part of my life that most folks never see.
My big plan involved making videos each day and perhaps sharing them on a video platform where I might earn revenue but that absolutely failed not just because of the technological hurdles but also because shortly after I began my journey the platform itself changed a bunch of it's rules for creators and without a massive number of followers I could not monetize my videos even if I could overcome the technological hurdles and actually upload them. Nonetheless I did make videos for my entire journey (all nine hundred and fifty-seven days of it) and eventually found a way to share them privately via an online storage service that could handle me uploading them via an intermittent and dodgy cellular data connection.
The rest of my plan was a three year plan to setup a homestead for myself and grow black locust trees as well as doing some mushroom cultivation and although I more or less accomplished the first two things the last thing I was never all that successful at. I had other goals in that plan (that I actually did accomplish) like generating all my own electricity via renewable means and capturing a spring to fill my needs for clean water but the larger goal of my three year plan never made it to fruition because the owner of the place threw me a 'curve ball' and I found myself having to move and abandon all my hard work.
So here I am three years later reflecting on a time of my life that I honestly do not know how the fuck I feel about at this point because it seems like I went through a hell of a lot of difficult hardship thinking I would be in one place at the end of three years but alas here I am in an entirely different place.
I just have to ask myself: Does it matter what I 'think' of it all at this point if I made it through, learned stuff along the way, overcame the challenges, persevered and basically endured all sorts of fuckery along the way...does it really fucking matter what I 'think' now that it is all but a memory or just so much media sitting on a hard drive which amounts to 'memories' preserved through pictures, writings, videos and audio recordings...or does that very media speak volumes in and of itself and all 'thinking' is irrelevant at this point because the media is a fucked up testament (in and of itself) to just how much hardship I can endure. Those are questions I lack answers for and try to avoid dwelling upon because honestly what is the fucking point of even asking them.
What I do know is that three years ago today I was in the grip of a pretty deep depression which was fairly familiar terrain for me considering I had been unsuccessfully battling it for nearly three decades at that point. I was also having a tough time justifying continuing my life and if it had not been for my dogs I probably would have quit looking for justifications altogether and done the irrevocable deed of sparing myself any further suffering. I am spelling that out so folks understand just how bleak life was for me at the time. Suffice it to say that I was tired of fighting a losing fight and somewhere between my acute sense of isolation from others and my complete sense of alienation there just was not much to live for other than my dogs because it absolutely horrified me to think what would become of them in my absence.
For many years (since my late teens) I had hand-written a lot of stuff which primarily amounts to journal writing with a healthy dose of prose/poetry and fiction thrown in for 'good measure' and at the point I was at three years ago I felt that with all the writing (by far my worse vice to date) I had inadvertently lead myself down some dark alley of the soul where I was constantly either re-enforcing negative thought patterns or circle-jerking about my own bad ideas, or writing about the traumatic events of my life and wanted to stop doing it altogether. Well we can all see how the fuck that turned out but I digress. My plan was to make videos instead of writing and perhaps focus my creative endeavors into a more constructive/helpful direction but with the aforementioned technological difficulties I encountered with sharing the videos I started typing out daily posts on a phone and publicly sharing them to an almost palpable lack of fanfare which was fine by me because I seldom shared anything that I had ever written even though I have somewhere around sixty journals detailing my life as well as a metric fuck-ton of poetry/prose/fiction material that quietly fills several large totes that I have somehow managed to lug around with me for my entire adult life. In other words I was trying to shift my medium from writing to vlogging (video documenting) but wound up doing equal parts of both.
The method of writing had changed though because I was typing it out (instead of doing it in longhand) and publicly sharing it (instead of privately hoarding it) and I guess that in the end that was enough for me to re-define my relationship/addiction to 'spelling things out' because along the way things began to change for me. Don't get me wrong I am still a fucking hack when it comes to writing and I say that completely without any self effacing horseshit because I am largely self taught and it is not really my fault (nor responsibility) that I have a love for words and am intrigued with various ways to express myself through them with a healthy dose of disregard for 'the rules' that most folks adhere to when expressing themselves via the written medium. In other words I give it my best and that is good enough for me.
All that writing stuff aside what really changed for me along the way was that I gradually somehow (fucking miraculously) beat the depression and as much as I would love to spell out how I accomplished that I simply cannot because to this day I cannot sum it up in a way that would make any damn sense. What I do know is that given a situation where I was facing both freezing to death and/or starving something snapped inside of me and I got fed the fuck up with feeling depressed and started making different internal choices on how I let the experiences/memories of my life affect me...or not affect me. For a long period after the depression stopped taking center stage in my life I was pretty emotionally numb to just about everything (except in regards to the dogs) but finally (just recently) that has begun to change. Although I could probably explore this particular rabbit warren at length I am not going to because it would undoubtedly derail me from my original inspiration to write this. Suffice it to say depression fucking sucks and there is no silver bullet to kill it with other than perhaps a deep resolve to be rid of it mixed with throwing oneself into an extreme situation where simple survival is threatened by it...even if it takes thirty fucking years to do so.
Anyway. For about half of my journey (at that old farm) I was sharing my written material publicly on a social platform and although I did not get much in the way of likes, comments or any of that other horseshit that does not convert to anything really substantial other than the occasional worthless squirt of dopamine it did allow me a vector through which I could share my journey and gain a few supporters along the way which was really a game changer because without a few supportive folks my journey would have been a hell of a lot worse than it was. Don't get me wrong it was still difficult but it was extremely nice that some folks along the way contributed to alleviating my hardship even if it was fractional relief in comparison to the larger picture.
Eventually someone I know encouraged me to use Steemit and a few other folks later got me interested in Patreon and although Steemit has been really hit or miss (as far as earnings go) Patreon has provided me with something I can count on each month. I am by no means going to delve into my relationship/experiences with utilizing the two sites but I do want to say that they changed everything for me because suddenly my content had 'value' that actually did/does convert into something more worthwhile than the occasional squirt of dopamine. This 'value' in and of itself liberated some part of my psyche in such a way that I wanted to produce better content (which is wholly subjective) and made me really examine why the fuck I was creating content (as well as what content I was creating) in such a way that I felt like I had actually grown in a positive (more constructive) direction. For the time I put in each day (to content creation) it amounts to pennies per hour but it sure is a hell of a lot better than no pennies per hour and I have zero complaints.
So here I am still plodding along three years later and along the way I have realized my dreams, had my dreams shattered, found myself starting all over again at an entirely new property where I did a fuck-ton of work to develop a site, build a shelter to winter in and sort through the mess of the last several years of my life in such a way that I can make some fucking sense out of everything...or not.