My book “Og den store flugt” (get it here in danish and here in german – soon to be published in the Czhech Republic and the Netherlands as well) have been used extensively as a case study in schools in Denmark- so whenever the students have to write reports on “something with nature” I receive a ton load of emails. In order to deal with this I have made this FAQ.
Why did you move into nature?
Because we were stressed, depressed, unhappy and desperate. It wasn´t a “life style choice” or a choice rooted in positive emotion- for us it was, at the time, a question of life or death.
We felt we had lost agency over our own life. We felt powerless. In a lot of ways this was about reclaiming our lives and the things we felt we had lost.
Secondly it was about “getting back to the land” or “getting back to nature”.
We wanted to simplify, to find out what the uttermost basic human need is. We wanted to strip naked and face it. Life. See who we were without all of the stuff, without all of the values that were installed in us growing up in capitalism.
As children both me and Jeppe sought out nature. Nature was a place of peace. Of freedom. We wanted to feel those feeling again.
LATER we have become a lot more politically aware/active and we now understand our lifestyle (and we choose it, over and over again) in terms of political beliefs. But in the beginning it was desperation.
By the way; I think it is very important to speak about the desperation. All of these “forbidden” emotions. I believe these emotions to be very important (despair, anger, frustration, sadness, sorrow), they function as regulators of behaviour, I believe, they make us ACT – and so it is very important to actually allow one self to feel them.
Why do you use modern technology and social media when you live in nature?
It is mostly people in the cities who sees this opposition between technology and nature. Think about it. It is only YOU who thinks it´s a contradiction in terms.
Most of the people I know who live primitively in nature – use modern technology.
After some years you become more pragmatic. Generally. You become fond of tools and the value of tools. For me social media is a tool. Technology is a tool.
Let me turn the questions upside down: does it not say a lot about our culture that most people conceive technology and social media as something dirty, fake and almost straight up evil? As the direct opposite of “the natural” which we then, in turn, perceive to be “good, pure, authentical”
Let´s talk about the concept of authenticity.
Let´s talk about the notions this culture have of authenticity. If you are to be “authentically” you have to hate technology, spend a lot time with your kids, never eat fast food and generally be happy, pure, saved. Live in the now. Think positive thoughts. This is perceived as the OPPOSITE of what we do, how we spend our lives (in the cities).
Is that not telling?
My life in nature is characterized by this;
I’m DIRTY. I´m real, real dirty. And I smell.
I`M UNHAPPY. I’m frustrated about climate change, I worry about the future of my kids, I’m not dancing around in a field of flowers, feeding the deer, self actualized and out of touch with the fucking reality of this culture, this time.
There is an empire. It is evil. If there is something I have learned in the woods it has to do with Robin Hood!
AND: I didn´t move out into nature just to stuff myself into another box (an even tighter one). I will not be someone dream of authenticity. All this commercial, glittering advertisement bullshit about sustainability and green transition is WRONG.
We need a fundamental clash with this notion of “salvation” if we are to move onwards as a civilisation.
I really mean that.
And by that I mean; the new paradigm cannot and must not be about gadgets, quick fixes, ten easy steps or the cure for everything. Psychological gadgets.
Last but not least; is it not allowed for a human being to change? Change attitude, be contradictory, are you not contradictory, hypocritical, complex?
Why can´t I be that, why can´t I be a normal human being, just because I live in nature?
3. What experiences have you had in nature?
That´s a big question!
It´s been six years now. Maybe I thought we´d do it and then BAM I´d get a new personality and everything would be good, perfect. Maybe I believed in salvation.
As I said; I´ve changed.
It changed me (over time though, it takes TIME)
I think I have achieved what I wanted though, I think I have had a serious showdown with a lot of my tamed emotion, I think I have rewilded myself… it´s just not what I thought it would be and it took a lot more time than I thought it would.
1) Everything changes in nature. Everything. Really. Nothing is predictable, stable, everything changes- and being able to deal with these changes, to be flexible…. that´s an important skill when you live in nature.
2) Things can get too abstract. Most problems can be reduced to specific problems and specific problems can be solved. Either with duct tape or by doing without.
3) Community. We ran into nature to be gong ho hardcore survivalists. What we learned is that the human being is a flock animal and that human beings NEED other human beings.
4) Choice. It´s not one single decision- it´s a string of decisions, a refinement of dreams. It´s a process.
Do you think nature is a good solution to the problems we face as a society?