Wilderdom Vignettes

Simple Living in Nature

James Neill
Last updated:
23 Feb 2006

What is Wilderdom?

Simple living in nature

Wilderdom business philosophy

What will living in Wilderdom really be like?

What is Wilderdom?

Sometimes I am asked "What is Wilderdom?".  Mostly people already know, they just need a little reminder.  Wilderdom is simply living in nature -- taken to the full extent.  When simple living in nature is taken to the full extent, personal and systemic transformation ensues.

Wilderdom is something of an experiment in utopia, but a very practical experiment which is devoid of external rules that are not consistent with the operations of nature.  Wilderdom emphasizes that whatever living philosophy one constructs, it cannot avoid the laws of nature, and the best way to get familiar with the laws of nature is to live simply in natural surrounds.  Once placed within this context, the individual can attend to his/her heart's greatest desire, whatever that may be at the time, such as bringing up children, building, growing, studying, or providing a community with a product or service.

In the modern world, we have been led to believe that we should take a job and then decide where to live, but this creates disconnection from the start.  Wilderdom starts with choosing where to live, then finding fruitful employment or business.  The distinction here is somewhat arbitrary -- we live at work, we work at home.  In Wilderdom, getting paid no longer matters, because one follows the higher principles of nature, sourcing products early in their lifecycle, until eventually one can recreate an optimal level of subsistence living but still in touch with modern society if one so desires. 

The Wilderdom philosophy is simple - one should simply go about one’s business, whatever that is, in life.  If one isn't clear about one's personal mission, then Wilderdom can still be started and it will evolve as the person gets to know him/herself better.  It is important to realize that one should not get too attached to a job because it can blind one to the real business of living.

It is critical to realise that true Wilderdom starts with the lifestyle first that is intimate with nature, and then, because the individuals' hearts are singing, they are quite well able to manifest suitable activity, including "employment", should they desire it.  It is not a new idea - it harks back to Henry David Thoreau's Walden, St Francis of Assisi, and long before.

A person in Wilderdom will rarely suffer more over a lifetime than the person who remains seduced by the normal props and illusions more out of fear of risk than any great attraction to the normalcy.  An honest-living person will naturally find themselves of benefit to a community who will then naturally, in turn, value the person sufficiently so as to provide sustenance for life.  This might be easier to understand as "God will look after me", but God, after all, is just the greater unfathomable laws of nature.  Put simply: attune oneself with nature and one cannot fail.  Deviate from consonance with nature at your own peril.

Simple living in nature

In order to live, we consume and expel air, water, food and use some basic living tools.  This necessarily involves movement; one cannot be static.  Thus, we must interact with the surrounds; entire isolation is not possible.  We give away the air we breath and the water and food that pass through us, and then we must search for more.  That is the way of survival for animals on planet Earth.  And it is all we really need to bother doing.  Giving and receiving.

Yet, we get so clouded and complicated.  We work in jobs that are not 100% true because we assume that monetary rewards can somehow filter through to satisfy our higher instincts.  That is living in fear and such acts impoverish the individual, community, and biosystem.  Addiction to artificial living has almost irreparable consequences.

Wilderdom is living simply in nature.  One can start out by searching out a piece of land – anywhere in the world, wherever we may be (the world is a big place) – and then creating an arrangement with the local biosystem that will allow one to dwell, breathe, look for water, and find some food.  One might make a shelter and a fireplace, and in so doing a new kind of life has now begun.  One might proceed and craft some tools or bring some junk from the city.

Wilderdom is a concept, not a place.  It is freely franchisable and adaptable; it can be done by anyone, anywhere.  As we satisfy our lower motivations through direct engagement with natural living  processes, amazing new things start happening and the higher faculties come pouring forth.  The most difficult part is initially leaving one's known shores.

Wilderdom Business Philosophy: Simplicity, location, and differentiation

Robert Goizueta, the late CEO of Coca Cola, said "In real estate it's location, location, location. In business it's differentiate, differentiate, differentiate."

Is it possible to combine these principles of ‘location’ and ‘differentiation’ to come up with an effective real estate and business strategy for ethical purposes, that is, the facilitation of human-ecological sustainability?

The idea here, is to invest in a piece of real estate which is a good investment by virtue of its location and undervalued market potential, and then to conduct oneself in a way that leads to a deeply rewarding lifestyle both for oneself and the surrounding environment.

Inner city investment has been good – but that is harder and harder to find cheap.  Yet surprisingly beautiful tracts of wilderness or at least space are still available relatively cheaply.  The problem in many people's minds is how to get employment, but with tools such as technology, access to external employment is much more possible and the cost of sustainable living much reduced.  As one starts working for one's self, growing gardens and constructing basic dwellings, one gets around to meet the local people and learn about what of one's talents or interests might be of interest to the community.

In today’s world, business has come to mean a capitalistic, economic profit-making pursuit through the provision of product or service.  But we can claim back a softer side to "business".  Business is what we do with ourselves, our ‘busy-ness’.  So, everything we do is our business, its not just Wall St. notions of business.  Let's make it our business to transform through natural efforts the driest dustbowls into vibrant oases.  In doing so, the how and why of living is solved.  Remarkably, once one stops fighting and fearing nature, and cooperates, one's needs are more than provided.

What has all this to do with real estate, Coca-Cola, and good business?  Location means find the best piece of wilderness that most appeals to you.  Differentiation means making your own lifestyle.  Simplicity means live from the heart and with nature. 

Our lives do not need to have their backbone structured around spending one's greatest capabilities and energy earning enough money to invest in the stockmarket and retire with a permanent income.  We already live longer than any previous generation of human beings and in our greedy pursuit of more we end up spending it all!  Instead, strike out beyond cultural definitions of work and convention and try living out in the wilderness.  Come up with your own way of spending days and nights that satisfies your needs for air, water and food and the rest will start to fall into place.

What will living in Wilderdom really be like?

Wilderdom is a concept, rather than a place.  The rules are the simply the rules of nature.  Everyone will find their own way.  In a philosophical sense, the particulars matter little.  In an everyday sense, the particulars are all that matter.  Here is an example of what one person's living in "Wilderdom" is like:

"My office is behind my home in a garden.  I consider the garden ‑ the flowers, trees, hummingbirds, animals and insects ‑ all the life there ‑ to be co therapists with me.  Often clients will come a bit early to drink in the garden.  Often they will see something ‑ a new plant, something blooming or fading, some encounter experienced or witnessed in the animal life, that touches their spirit and thoughts simultaneously.  This we incorporate into our conversations as we not only work to heal what is wounded but also nourish, support and provide space for what is new and yet to bloom in them. This is a rich and rewarding experience for me too."
- Joanna Poppink, MFT, psychotherapist in Los Angeles, 24/6/98 Spiritual Issues in Medicine Discussion List

Here is another:

"There was a wonderful old man up in Woodstock, New York, who had a piece of property with these little chicken coop places he would rent out for twenty dollars a year to any young person he thought might have a future in the arts.  There was no running water, only here and there a well and a pump. He declared he wouldn't install running water because he didn't like the class of people it attracted.  That is where I did most of my basic reading and work.  It was great.  I was following my bliss."
- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, 1985/6, p. 120

Above all else, remember simplicity in nature.  The rest will follow.  I’ll see you there.