I just watched Craigslist Joe on Netflix. Interesting documentary about a guy who, without any money or credit cards, relies on the goodness of strangers to determine his fate. Well worth the 90 minute watch. All his interactions are on Craigslist and he basically mixes a variety of free classes, spots to sleep, rides, food, misc. jobs and volunteering, and various adventures into his documentary. Basically being homeless with no money and trying to survive with the clothes on his back.
It provided me with a sense of adventure just watching it, bringing me back to my own days as a young man not knowing where I would sleep or live or how the adventure would turn out. So despite my pretty structured life these days (though I am opt for various random adventures given the opportunity), back then I was a spontaneous and had mini adventures frequently enough though nothing to the extent of Craigslist Joe. A few examples off the top of my head:
- Rolled into Indy without a place to stay for a summer job (20 years old). Rented a room in a boarding house with a bunch of randoms in a bad neighborhood where adventures occurred nearly every day (like the time I got propositioned to buy pot on the block walk back from the convenience store – accepted a great deal, only to find out it was oregano [face palm and lesson learned – I had smoked pot a few times at this point but never purchased any. This was the first and last time I ever tried to purchase from someone I didn’t know]).
- Rolled into Bemidji, MN in the same situation not knowing a soul. Was a little trickier, so was contacting classifieds or bulletin board renters tofind a room to rent for the summer (about 21 yrs old). One room I looked at was in an old motel, the person who showed me around showed me where the key was hid. Didn’t find a place to sleep that first night, so took the hidden key and squatted in the room for a night. Later rented a room for the summer with a bunch of randoms once again.
- Traveled for two weeks in Europe and relied on the generosity of strangers and random hostel and life experience to make it through. Almost got thrown off the train in Austria. Slept in train stations and airports. Sang spontaneous songs in Ireland with the locals. Was 22 years old. Many adventures had.
- Me and a few friends decided to travel north one spring break to the Bad Lands in North Dakota. After driving for some ungodly amount of time, we camped out in snow for a night (needless to say, the camping area had one tent), hiked around and saw some beautiful scenery and wildlife the next day, and headed back. Shortest and cheapest spring break ever. Fun times!
- Did various ride boards in college (lived five hours from home in my early college years) with randoms.
- Slept on various random’s room floors in various situations
The Craigslist Joe documentary and life has shown me that most people are good, and many young people are looking for adventure. A message and lifestyle that I can agree with and subscribe to. Just because you think you have constraints on your life and you can’t break free doesn’t mean that’s true. Who’s to say you can’t buy a VW Camper van
and roam the country, kids and all, leaving it all behind (maybe even the debt or running from the government or whatever, I’m not one to judge). I know one iFriend who did just that (with an RV) and who had a job that allowed him remote access. He hopes to write a book about his adventures with two homeschooled kids and this cross country life adventure.
In the movie, many people gave up their time and cars and food and (presumably) money to a couple of strangers (Joe, and the camera man) for the sake of adventure. Unlike my wife who thinks I will get murdered in every Craigslist transaction (and I just did one this week where I sold a wetsuit), I would totally do the same to those in need. I honestly believe most people are trustworthy and generous despite whatever crap their own life situation may bring. People are mostly good, despite their flaws. I have rarely run across someone who, once the ice was broken, wouldn’t help a man or family in need in some way.
I too have my own moments of generosity when opportunity arises. One time I gave a stranger in need $40 in the grocery store parking lot just because he asked (and in a rare moment that I actually had cash). As a tightwad (just ask my wife…I’ve never told her this story, until now), I was certainly conflicted, but the dude seemed like he and his family (waiting in the vehicle) were in a rough spot and karma has paid me back so many other ways I don’t regret that decision at all.
So regardless of how domesticated your life is, or how set in stone your life is, put it out there and see where the adventure takes you. Open your eyes to the opportunity to engage others who need a little karmic push or ask for one yourself. I try and keep my eyes open to those opportunities, because you just never know when an opportunity you help another with turns around and helps you.
Adventure is Out There!