Free Living

Sandy didn’t think of himself as homeless; he thought of himself as nomadic. Like great peoples of the ancient world – Mongols, Tibetans, Bedouin, and Hebrews – he moved around. He accepted that his “people” numbered only one person, but every people has to start somewhere. The great peoples were herders, and moved with their beasts. Sandy did too till his dog ran away. Now he was both herder and beast.

He spent much of his time in the forest. He’d found a good spot a little ways uphill, just out of town, to place his sleeping bag nightly. There was a deep rock ledge there, almost a cave. He was comfortable enough from spring to fall, but wintered elsewhere – usually the City – where they had better facilities and wealthier people – not that he ever begged. But if people wanted to give him five bucks to make themselves feel better, that was their business.

His rock ledge in Lucerne was near the park. Friendly runners passed close by and often said, “Good morning,” though an increasing number were now saying, “Gooday”. That was another tribe of nomads – Australians. A tall Aussie girl – she must be a six-footer – ran by daily. Today, as always, she beamed a huge smile and stopped to chat. “Gooday,” she said. “Did you sleep well last night, Forest Saint? Any great dreams?”

“Well actually I did,” said Sandy. “I dreamt that I was a very lucky man living freely in the forest, chatting to pretty girls.”

“Well it looks like your dreams have come true then!” she said, and bounded off like a doe.

He chatted to East Indians. The best thing about them was their food; and of course the fact that they offered it freely at their gleaming temple, which used to be a church with a holy congregation of seven, but now held fifty turbaned warriors. They called him Sandy Sahib – which means Sir Sandy. He loved their steel platters filled with steaming food, followed by sticky cubes of dessert, and hot sweet tea. The elders told him about their journeys to get here from rural Punjab, but they were immigrants rather than nomads. Their holy book was installed in the temple, and they were staying put in Lucerne.

Sandy had no travel costs; he hitchhiked everywhere. Today he fancied heading up the Valley, and was picked up by a South African guy in a blue Tacoma. “Howzit?” he said.

Sandy had accepted rides from South Africans before, and knew that the answer to this greeting was not, “It is truly fine Sir, and what about yours?” The appropriate response to “Howzit?” was “Howzit?” right back; like he’d been taught by kids in the park that the answer to “Wassup?” was always, “Wassup?” as the answer to “Wag1?” (What’s going on?) was “Wag1?” There were only ever questions with some people. Everything was left open.

Sandy bathed daily in the spring – but of course downstream from where people filled their 18.9L gas station water bottles. Refill them once and you’ve repaid your deposit, and after that, its water free forever. Isn’t that how life should be always – free?

Sandy’s life previously had not been free. It had at times felt like a cauldron burning dry, and at other times, a roof leaking in many places; and now and then, somewhere in the middle; and too often, both at once. It was exciting to live in the City for sure; a world of commerce, industry, and architecture; untold opportunities; power lunches and grand dinners; urban music festivals; blockbuster action movies; dramas, operas, ballet, and modern dance. But there were also millions of other people chasing those very same things, leading to endless noise, overcrowding, pollution, traffic jams, bad tempers, no time to smile or talk to strangers, pushing and shoving, clock-watching, trying to succeed at your job and keep your head above water. The City was stressful. Those people weren’t free at all.

One day he’d said to his boss, “I can’t do this anymore.”

His boss had looked at him oddly and said, “You never could.”

“What do you mean?” said Sandy. “I always did well here. I hit my targets and achieved my goals.”

“You know what I mean,” said his manager. “This was never the right place for you. You should have married into a gypsy clan, or worked for the circus, and spent your life on the road.” He’d shaken his head and said, “I like you, Sandy, but you will never be a respectable member of society. You don’t believe in any kind of structure or fair exchange.”

Leaving full-time work meant that he could no longer pay his mortgage, and his house was repossessed. His wife was not impressed by this turn of events and left him soon after, moving far away so he couldn’t see the kids. He began to wonder whether families provided synergy – making everything better for each other – or were merely parasites – sucking each other’s life blood. Anyway, he was free of them; so that was that.

Sandy’s goal was to live in the now. Not in the past or the future, but only in the present moment which truly exists. And who existed really? In truth his consciousness extended only to himself. So maybe only he existed.

He began talking to himself more: the only True Being. He said, “I am living freely, without baggage, with neither obstructions nor obligations; I have no money and need no money; this world is generous, bountiful, and abundant. This moment is perfect, and I am free.” But in a secret place, a little voice said “Am I a star, alone in outer space? A ship cast adrift on the ocean? A forsaken lizard creeping through wasteland? The last snowflake on a sunny day? Am I no longer a herder but a beast?”

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One Response to “Free Living”

  1. I think I met Sandy once long long ago… Good to know he still kickin !

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