Sunday, February 11, 2007

How to Explain the Life of a Drifter

As we come and as we go, we continue on the path that we have chosen. Do we know why we've chosen it? Sometimes. Do we have any idea of what really kind of repercussions could reveal themselves because of our innate wisdom? Probably not. As I have been here, over 4000 miles away from where i'd called home for 20 years, I have found myself trying to find some kind of stability in my life. Something to grasp as to lead me into the next stage of my life. Some kind of "settlement" if you will. I've been around... almost everywhere in "The West", and yet there're thousands that have done more than I, people I've met who seem to just want to see the world and live 6 months here, 4 months there, then move on... It's fun to see different places and I enjoy it. I'm not sayin that I'm not gonna go anywhere else fun and exotic and interesting. But... after spending no more than 3 years in one place for the last 8 years, I've wondered if I could find some kind of settlement. And not just that, but what it would look like. Everywhere I go, I meet people that are important to me, and I really don't desire to keep moving someplace new and meeting new people and getting new friends, and then leaving them just to do it all over again. It's difficult, and I think I'd like to have my try at something new. But in this case, it doesn't mean a new place, a new environment, a new culture... it means the same place, the same environment, the same culture, the same friends, the same everything, and really see what that does for me. When will I do this? Good question. Where will I do this? Even better question. I left America seeking something new and something unamerican... and i found it... the question is, when'll I start to miss what I'd desired to leave for so long? There seems to be a lot for me to think over. Good thing is, is that I have a bit of time to figure it all out. And I feel I'll need every last bit of that time. So... we'll see... that's really all i can say for now. And after everywhere I've been, after every culture i've seen and gotten a glimpse of, if you'd ask me one thing that i'd learned, I'd tell you this: "Culture doesn't define the person, and the the person vice versa. The person defines the person, and the culture, the culture." Now for many of you, you won't really understand what it means... so i advise you to just think about it for a bit. There's no hidden religious message, or any other for that matter. It is what it is. And that's the random insight from a drifter...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was the definition of BEAUTIFUL.

10:39 PM  
Blogger M said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking to do the exact same thing as you. I'm considering resigning from my job. I work in a factory and have the ability to get a good position within the company that has good pay. The people are good, my boss is bad. I just want something more from life. I'm worried that when I'm older I will look back and regret my younger days being wasted in a factory, when I should have been out trying new things, meeting new people, seeing new places. When I'm in my deathbed do I really want to be thinking "well I had a good income for most of my life... hooray for me, not" ? I think I'd rather have memories and life experiences than money. What are your thoughts on this?

11:21 PM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...

Mr. Anonymous.

My thoughts. Personally, I've never been attracted to money. People who have money, always want more, and people who have lots of money seem to have more problems to deal with. To live a nice quiet life is what I desire from this world. To have a family, make an impact in a few people's lives.

Work is something important. You spend more time at work than anywhere else. If you can't find a job that you really love, then why do it? You'll be miserable for most of your life. And great, it pays a lot of money, but money was made to be spent, and if you can't enjoy the money you make, then again there's no point

I am starting to see the sense in money for a means of supporting a family, and that is perhaps something else, but right now, I think that you should enjoy your life while you're young. Time and time again people are always coming to me telling me they wish they were doing what i was doing. or wish they had done it when they were younger.

But you need to find what's most important for your life right now. With every new experience you become a little wiser. You start to understand the world a little better. You start to understand people a little better. And everything else.

if you want something more from life, then do it. You don't have these opportunities often and when you get a wife and settle down, you won't have this chance. Live in the moment. Things will work out as they should, they always do. Don't just think about decisions, but make decisions. And act upon them. You'll always regret something if you don't at least try. Be strong. Be independent, don't be scared, and have a little faith in yourself. Good luck and keep me updated on what the future holds for you. I'm interested.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude im 14 and went on a summer vacation of drifting... best time of my life

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I love your story, your life, I want it. The problem, i'm 16, I don't know how to start/where. I need to go to college, I want to make my parents proud, but I need to see things and experience things. My parents think i'm "different". My Dad thought he would put an end to "this stupid phase" by letting me live in the garden, after 4 months he took my tent to a recycling place and told me to stop dazing. How did you start? have you always felt the need for freedom?

4:03 PM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...

Hey last Anonymous writer,

Seeing different places helps you to mature and grow up. It's not the definituon of life though. But it is important to really understand yourself and your culture I feel.

How I started? Take any opportunity you can to see something. If you have the chance, see something new. It doesnt have to be a new culture. Maybe just volunteer at a homeless shelter or something that takes you out of your comfort zone. See how people live differently than you. That is the biggest thing.

Finish school. Make your parents proud. It is important and you can do a lot more good to society and experience more things if you have a good education. It is hard to get anywhere abroad if you dont have an education.

For now though, you don't need to crazy to be different. Look at ways to help society. When you see how other people in your culture live differently, you see yourself differently. I'm not saying become some kind of radical activist. Just get somewhere outside your comfort zone. Take the opportunities that come your way also. And good luck dude.

1:11 PM  
Blogger John said...

i am 15 and i long to just have a life of drifing. that is my dream, to go from one place to another. to escape organized liveing, such as naborhoods and an everyday job. all that just seems to boreing and repeative. my parents want me to just be another zombie of organized liveing so i dont know what they are guna say when i graduate and start my life of drifting. whenever i tell people thats my dream (to drift) they just get confused and call me a hobo ha. well all the shit you guys are saying is realy deep and i totaly get you guys. and to "im only 16" same here i dont want to disapoint my parents by not going to college but school and like iv said befor organized liveing drives me crazy, cause i only long for sitting next to a fire werever looking up at the stars playing my guitar. i could do that my whole life. and im going to. LIVE LIFE, WE ONLY GOT ONE! LOVE YOU ALL

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 19, and have a boring, repetitive job. I also go to school, but since I have no idea what I want out of life yet, the number of classes i'm taking are slowly dwindling down.

I want some meaning in my life. I want to travel, and to travel far. I'm planning on going to Israel at some point and joining a kibbutz, and then i'm going to visit an Amish community, and maybe i'll go out west and work on a ranch, just to live in as many cultures as I possibly can. And who knows, maybe i'll journey out to Africa and volunteer there.

And since I love to write, the experiences would be valuable.

I'm wondering though, how would I get started? I have no idea as to how much money I would need to even start out. I wouldn't know where to go, or who to trust. And I'd be alone, which isn't all too smart, since i'm a girl.

What's your advice?

9:02 AM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...

Dear 19 yo anonym. girl,

Seems like there are a lot of things you want to do, and what you don't want to do (namely your job).

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to wait. It sucks being at a dead end job, going to school seems pointless. You've got lots of great ideas and lots of cool experiences that you want to do.

I don't know you, so a few small questions for you. Do you think traveling to different cultures will help you find meaning to your life? It'll be cool experiences and you'll definitely grow from it, but if you are just going to make them experiences, then you'll come back to "your" culture and everything will be the same.

I'd advise you to take everything one step at a time. Don't think that all of a sudden you'll fly over to Israel and find something. To start somewhere, you have to have contacts. If you don't have contacts, then you're in for a difficult time. Where you find them is up to you.

Experiencing new cultures is definitely important and life changing, but you have to look at things in the bigger picture. How could this affect my life. Sometimes the boring things aren't the most fun to do, but at some times, they can be necessary to a degree. Good luck with your choices. I wish you the best.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Sincere Drifter said...

Dear Anonymous,

The life of a true drifter is not as easy as you would think at times. Although, it is definitely an interesting life style and has its perks.

I'm not sure what advice to tell you because for me, in a way, this life style has always been a part of me my whole life and I never felt I wanted to follow the norm. I have always thought out of the box since I was a kid and financially I have done quite well, sometimes better than others. As a matter of fact when I started drifting when I was 17, that was when I discovered the profit of the import export business. Not saying that is what you would want to do but for me it was and still is very interesting. I never wanted to work for anybody else but myself and I always wanted complete freedom to do what ever came to mind. Among other things I also studies computer science and programming abroad and made some really good friends that I still keep up with. So you don't have to limit yourselves to what you can do either.

In the last 10 years or so I haven't lived anywhere for more than 2-3 months, hopping from hotel to hotel, or furnished apartment and so on. I actually even sat/lived in a few jail cells in some pretty shady countries as well. But what I found out is that most places in this world you can deal with much the same as you can here, in the states that is. Humanity is relatively all the same everywhere. We all want the same thing. The idea of rent, paying for food, paying your cell phone bill, money for travel is all the same everywhere. And that's what I always figured it to be, that "if I can do it here, well, then in reality I can do it anywhere". Well, at least anywhere in the civilized world. People limit themselves so much in this life, and think to themselves that they cant do this or that and that everything is so difficult but in reality doing what you want is more easy than you think. Fear if our greatest enemy, and our greatest limitation of all. Most of the time fear is not a logical emotion, but instead something that holds us back. Just imagine what humanity would accomplish if fear wasn't an issue. Would that result in something negative or positive? For the most part fear is another system of control. But in reality that system is needed in someways, which I didn't always agree with. But that is a completely different topic.

So I say if you want to do something then do it. You are young now. When I started I was young. Now I have an amazing wife, who I met in my travels, and a beautiful daughter. So I would say that now it is time for me to put this life style aside. I say do it while you can because I would not be the person who I am today without it. It has given me an edge on, well just about everything and it has made me a survivor. And the knowledge I have acquired is priceless. I think that if you are traveling because you don't like your current life then that is a perfect reason to do it. I think you will not be the same person when you come back, and when you finally do return back to the states you will find something new and do things much differently instead of coming back to all same problems you had before.

Sometimes we need to step out of the little box we live in to realize the big picture. After all, no matter how much we deny it, we are all conditioned in someway or another. So what happens when you step out of the fog? That is for you to find out.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Jakobi said...

Zach Barnes, thank you. Ya gave me want i needed to hear. I need an adventure. I feel im settlin down a bit to early with this job at 23. Im down in Texas and plan on sellin my truck n walkin to oregon for a month of work or so then off too montana. Never been to montana. Good country I hear. anyway, i was wonderin if anybody had any advice on dog companions. i don't know if thats a good idea with minimalist travel or not. don't have one yet. need to find the right breed. Thinking about doin somethin like this is prolly the only thing thats kept me goin last month or so. Spent to much time in a self created cage i suppose. Any advice on anything would be great. I'm leavin in a month or so... gonna try to stay away from cities, don't know if thats a good idea or not. welp any help will be much appreciated.


8:42 PM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...


a dog companion is good. I also had a dog as a companion for a few years, but if you're planning some trip like this, I would highly advise you against it. You will be less restrained and able to experience the most from your adventure.

Yes, it may be lonely at times, but that's part of it. You'll learn so much more about yourself. Be strong and go without the dog. It'll be better for the dog, too. Enjoy the trip and let the experience open your eyes to something different.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Friday said...

Mr. Barnes, I am nineteen and made a terrible mistake straight out of high school. I joined the army. Not that I have anything against our military, but you see I was under highly stressful circumstances when forced to make a decision immediately after high school. College was not an option, ima highly intelligent but that may be my downfall as it disinterested me from all of the norms of life. I was socially awkward and seemingly allergic to homework. My grades suffered, and financial support from the folks was lacking. I had no desire to take loans and grants and be in debt, although money itself has never been significant to me. Its just the principle of being indebted to an organization. Both of my parents were in the army. They gave me the option to join or get out. I signed up yet continued to contemplate abandoning it until the night I left for basic. I thought what I wanted was to party my whole life for a long time, but since my time in I've concluded that my true desire is what has been repeated on this thread so many times already. I seek freedom, adventure, change, survival, intrapersonal discovery, and above all, EXPERIENCE. More and more I realize how narrow my vision of the world is. Or maybe I've known how narrow it is all along... As well as my understanding of myself, especially in relation to others. Don't be mistaken, I have no illusions of going awol. In fact I think being in the army is itself an experience, one that has already been helpful in many ways. But when I'm done here, I plan on seeing and doing a much as I can, and meeting many people along the way. Never again will I let fear or other people make my decisions for me. I knew what I wanted, but I played it safe. Hopefully my choice will simply help in doing what I was meant to all along, and I may be all the wiser for it. I have no idea how old or outdated this post is, but I felt truly inclined to get some insight on my situation from someone who has lived the way I am anticipating will be my best bet for happiness. Also I wish to add that I do not blame my parents, I know they only wanted what they thought was best, but that was the problem. I did what they wanted and what they thought. If you do respond, expect to hear more from me. I may have questions our simply wish to update you on the status of my situation. You said contacts are important, well as far as my preparation for the drifting life goes, I will consider you my first contact.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...


You've got a lot going for you it seems. You seem to be a pretty smart guy. And you seem to have a lot ahead of you. I agree with you that the army must be quite an experience in itself. I mulled over the possibility myself a few times when I thought I needed to prove something to myself that I could do it and that I was "tough enough".

It'll definitely give you a good foundation for what you want to do. You're still young enough that you have got a lot of time to do whatever you want. My advice is do it. Just prepare before any of your adventures. Work visas are getting more strict in countries. Please let me know how things are going every now and then. I like hearing about people's stories. If I can help you out at all, I'm all ears. Good luck, take risk, and have fun. :) You learn so much about yourself.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude I feel the same way I want to just pack my stuff and leave just get in the car and drive to see where I end up and who meet a long the my life is fine but I just want more out of it I want experiences that way when my time comes I will have no regrets but I have no clue on how to start but have a good Idea of where to go...

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 22 year old woman and have currently just finished my AA in liberal arts. I am due to move 2 hours away from my current location to a state school to obtain a degree in secondary education, but the appeal of the open road is something that I daydream about. I am having trouble committing myself to academia and its costs. I have never been very American in my ideals of how I want to live my life and taking out thousands in student loans will prevent me from being able to travel by locking me within a career that I don't even know that I will enjoy. I have never been motivated by the material I am all about the experience. I very much desire selling off the small amount of goods I posses and working my way across the United States. I understand that this would be at times a lonely experience, but I need something that is life affirming and I am not happy with this current life trajectory. But if I decide to change it, it will disappoint everyone that is around me and it is possible that maybe I could find some semblance of satisfaction from teaching others... I don't know what to do!?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 22, I have always yearned for complete freedom I think of becoming a drifter quite often but I know its hard, I have lived place to place my whole life I guess u cud say I am already a drifter, but after getting shot in the chest I just want to go see the world for some reason, I want to get out of this life I have , I just am afraid I will fail. but the urge to just go be alone is always in my stomach , meet people who don't know who I am , what I am, where I come from, I wana meet people who aren't all like he ones hear , ... Alex

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I am 30. I have 3 children. My husband left me to raise them alone. I have such a restless soul. I want to leave this place but fear what the loss of stability would bring for my children.

I am the typecast of all who want to fly.

Mindless job, horrid boss, too much pain here.

I have no friends or family in this place.
What a wretched existence.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Zach Barnes said...


Thank you for sharing. I did not write this post nor blog to help people out or advise them on what to do. But now, with kids of my own, the only thing I can say is for you to MAKE A CHANGE. Change something, change everything. Do what needs to be done for the kids' sake. You are their example and role model. I know you think "leaving" will free you up, but it would only make things worse.

Find a way to change. Your kids deserve it. Find a way to be happy, whatever that means to you.


12:01 PM  
Blogger Sean Hardwick said...

I am 22 years old. My name is Sean. I was drifting around the country, and was truly happy. I want to continue my journey but I cannot because I just became a daughter is 2 weeks old. Any suggestions?

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Zach Barnes said...

Hey Sean,

Over the years I've come to the realization that we are all drifters. Drifters in life. Drifting from one stage to another. We don't need to be physically drifting to "drift" mentally and constantly trying to understand how this world and life work. Having a daughter is one of the most rewarding things ever and is just another trip in this cycle.

As a drifter, I find we are always searching for something. You say you were truly happy, and I believe you. But why? And what does "being happy" mean to you and is it possible to be more happy than you are now? What pushes you? What drives you? Questions to contemplate.

Babies and kids give us some of the purest moment of happiness we will ever see. The time spent with them far outweighs the other option of solely financial support. I believe, as a drifter, you are a caring person and would severely regret not spending time with and helping raise your daughter. Don't be a check once a month. It's not good for you or her in the long run. As a father, you start to see the world completely differently and it is quite interesting. Drift on into fatherhood. It's not easy, but is by and large one of the greatest experiences you'll ever take part in.


12:56 AM  
Blogger Chris Strong said...

For the past 8-9 years I have been without a home. I work moving vehicles across the US and Canada. It gives me freedom to travel seeing and experiencing places of a never ending variety. It is contractor work so, I only accept jobs that appeal to me. Maybe a place I haven't seen or where I have friends. Once the job is completed, I can stay in the arearly as long as I want, then I just get another contract moving another vehicle.
It is a chance to enjoy the country however, it can take it's toll on you through solitude. It's not for everyone. A life of unknowns at times yet, isn't that any life?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Chris Strong said...

For the past 8-9 years I have been without a home. I work moving vehicles across the US and Canada. It gives me freedom to travel seeing and experiencing places of a never ending variety. It is contractor work so, I only accept jobs that appeal to me. Maybe a place I haven't seen or where I have friends. Once the job is completed, I can stay in the arearly as long as I want, then I just get another contract moving another vehicle.
It is a chance to enjoy the country however, it can take it's toll on you through solitude. It's not for everyone. A life of unknowns at times yet, isn't that any life?

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was about to turn 19 when I got my first job, then before I turned 22 I was homeless, I still maintain my job and work as little but made enough to survive dispite that I didn't have a home to go to and have been homeless mulitple times before when I was younger. But depending on where you are (in my case, Los Angeles County) it's was easy to see why people say that the world is your home when you don't have one. I had a stable income, but no worries about where some of that money went like a motel 2 or 3 times a week or a decent meal a day. So when I worked I stay close by in motels or camped in the mountains so I can be at work on time, but when my 2 days off came, I use that time and money to travel and do what I want where I want, like get off on Sunday at 3, catch my bus at 5 and go to Vegas, make good money and be back at work on Wednesday, then next Sunday use that extra money to go to San Francisco or back to Vegas and make more to the point where I was able to take a week off and go to Seattle during that time.
Sadly, money is a major part of our society and is what is limited to those of us who can make good use of it dispite our living situation. But if we not only know how to handle it but how to handle ourselves without it, then being a drifter is easier than expected cuz we DO KNOW OUR LIMITS and how to stretch them to where we can live this life style for as long as we want..but experience does matter cuz I survive from age 14 to 16 1/2 without money or shelter, then being 22 with a job and in the same situation again was easier to deal with the difficult problems, but most importantly, I do not regret a single thing I was able to do living a life in the city of fallen angels as an angel who fell and turned the world I to my home. So over all, drifting is a life style I prefer becuz we knew that even though our situation had LIMITS, we lived like there were none, everyday was somewhere New, like a new camp site or a new soup kitchen to get food, a new motel or new state to see and still had a familiar place to come back to and recover enough to go out and go further than we thought we could before

2:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home