Why everyone should be homeless… at least once in their life
I’ve been homeless at least three times in the past three years. Relatively by choice... Trust me, I’ll explain.
When I first moved to LA about three years ago I quickly realized I had two options, work every hour of every day via multiple jobs so I could afford an apartment there, or I could sell and donate what little I had left, and live out of my car and travel.
I’ll be honest, I did try option one for some time. I had shifts starting at 5am as a barista, worked weekends and remotely doing marketing and sales for a bicycle startup and spent my Friday and Saturday nights serving bottles of Jameson and Hennessy at a downtown LA bar.
And I was still only scraping by…
In my defense, I had also realized I am not actually much of a city person. Preferring to trade the LA traffic and smog ridden skies for the peace and clarity of the neighboring Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and just about any natural and open spaces.
When I first decided to ditch the home life and become homeless I was both excited and absolutely terrified. But I had spent the better part of a year on the grind, attempting full time 9–5 life, juggling part times jobs, and realized it just wasn’t working.
So a few trips to Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill and everything I owned in the world was packed into my little Volkswagen Jetta. The plan was I would spend my weekends couch surfing and working in the city at my bar, and then take to the road Sunday through Friday exploring the American southwest and pursuing my true love, photography.
Me and homelessness, we had a lot of good times. In fact, I actually fell in love with the minimalist life, and when I finally got an apartment this past December, it was an odd adjustment.
I’m still not totally sure I like it.
Nothing quite compares to falling asleep under the stars, waking up next to the ocean or next to hot springs, surrounded by snow capped peaks.
That said, I was also hella lucky when I was in the city. Off and on for the next year and a half I had everything I owned in the world in the trunk and backseat of my car. The fact that my car never got broken into or towed is nothing short of a miracle.
But this is beside the point.
Being homeless, well it taught me a lot of things. First of all, it made me have a next level appreciation for, well, having a home. Hot showers, and a place to cook became hot commodities. A soft bed, and being able to find anything I needed without spending an hour digging through the backseat of my car, were a luxury.
Turns out most of what I thought I needed before, wasn't nearly as necessary as I thought. Experiences and true friends take the cake over, well, everything. And I now know the value of traveling on the road instead of up in the air, experiencing every mile in between your start and your destination.
I also realized there is still a lot of good people in the world. Like when an unforeseen, record breaking blizzard hit Portland stranding a dozen of us cars on the side of the road; I was able to catch a ride into the city, have a warm place to stay, and made new friends I still am in touch with today.
I think these days we are under the impression we “need” a whole lot more than we actually do to live a happy life.
So if ever you get the chance to drop everything and live out of your car, or a backpack, take the chance. Stripping away the excess and relearning the definition of necessity, you’ll more likely than not find a simpler, happier version of yourself on the other side.