This CNN piece caught my eye from several perspectives – a man is effectively living in a canoe out in Boston Harbor, making use of public waterways and facilities to supplement his very paired down subsistence out on the water. Most importantly – he has escaped the chaos of terra firma, and is living the life aquatic.
It is very easy to get wrapped up in the complexities of life and our civilization – especially in the US, where living in excess is deeply addictive drug that has infiltrated our society at every level. This is particularly apparent this time of year, with holiday shopping driving us all mad.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Among my best learned lessons in life came from living from living for one full calendar year in a remote stretch of the Bahamas on Lee Stocking Island, or LSI. LSI is a privately owned island which at the time was managed by a marine science organization that operated a small lab there. I’ve spent a lot of time there, but this one year in particular was life changing. In many ways, the experience was somewhat analogous to a real-world ‘Survivor’. I lived and worked with a small group of people, and was very much removed from ‘civilization’. We had times with issues of food and water, and had limited connectivity with the real world. Life was simple.
So simple in fact that I moved down there with 3 bags – one of clothes, one of dive gear, and one of household/comfort items. Everything I had crammed into my studio apartment here in providence was left in storage. After a year away, I forgot what I had. Opening the storage unit made me sick. All excess.
While ‘living’ and ‘surviving’ are two very different things, it is all too easy to get wrapped up in ‘living’ to some social standard other than our own. Happiness is not found with stuff, it is found within.
So, back to this guy in Boston…it appears he has absolutely everything necessary for survival in his canoe/modest camp site, which is aquatic bound. This is demonstrative of an ideal minimalism, living off the grid, and doing so within a stone’s through of a major metropolitan area that is entirely excess. Further, I find this measurably symbolic of our need to step away from our coasts for our own survival. Life out on and underwater is an opportunity to start fresh. It’s uncharted territory – we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. And it can be simple. Bostonians and the rest of the world should take note of the man in the canoe – as our sea level rises, and coastlines shrink, steps away from land are the right steps to a new life in the sea.
To Mr. Canoe – if this happens to reach you, you are welcome to Providence any time for a hot meal on me.