So, my child

You want to know why we lived like footloose gypsies traveling the world in a camper van?

STILL FROM PROJECT WILD THING

Four years ago, my husband and I made a joint decision to sell everything (house, car, stuff), move into a camper van, and sustainably slow-live our way around the world, indefinitely. Then last year we had a baby in Peru and are raising her as a global citizen. Below is my answer to my daughter to why we live the way we do—decidedly differently than her cousins back home.

So, my child, you want to know why we lived like footloose gypsies, like hobos and hippies, traveling at a snail’s pace in a camper van from pueblo to pueblo, across countries and continents, instead of living in a comfortable, middle class suburb of the United States of America, where you can flush toilet paper—no, where you can get toilet paper, hot water, and movies, all on demand?

Why were you encouraged to whitewater kayak, rock climb, surf, sail a boat, organically grow and forage your own food, but you can’t hum one commercial jingle? And, most annoyingly, why did we insist on giving “gifts of experience,” and then telling family and friends that, “your presence is the only present she needs”?

Well, my sweet pea, I will tell you:

We did it for the wild.

We did it for you—and all your brothers and sisters who will inherit the earth.

We did it because we have a biological need—a wild within—to bond with our Mother. And when we don’t, we howl against Moloch and beat against the bell jar.

We did it because before, when we lived cradled in concrete and noise, I ate Xanax for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I sweat like a hog in my drug-induced sleep, dreamt of being chased by black-cloaked men, and awoke with paranoia and dread.

We did it because if we hadn’t, I’d be insane.

We did it for our fellow Americans, of whom eighty percent live in cities and twenty-five percent suffer from a mental disorder. We did it for the children—eleven percent diagnosed with ADHD.

We did it because if we hadn’t, you, too, would be insane.

We did it for the songbirds, the honeybees and the Monarch butterflies. We did it for the thirty thousand species being driven to extinction every year.

We did it as an experiment in radical empathy: a way to shake off disease, rage against complacency and re-wild our psyches, because we can’t go back to being hunters and gatherers, nor can we continue on this concrete track of limitless consumption.

We did it because the personal is political, and the private is planetary. And it is our duty to DO SOMETHING.

We must create innovative sustainability, sweet pea. We must find balance. This was our way.

We jettisoned society’s blueprint and custom-designed a half-hippy hobo life so that you know it’s possible to do the same.

As you set out on your own, baby, you must choose your way. Our only hope is that you, too, do it for the wild.

Love,
Mama
—Stevie Trujillo