Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How To Be A Dirtbag

A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communally and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle [sic]. The Urban Dictionary.

I'm not sure that is exactly how I would describe a dirtbag (the living communally and unhygienically part is really not descriptive of dirtbags who are usually iconoclastic but not dirty), but, it probably comes close enough for the purposes of this post. The archetypal dirtbag - the cracker and ketchup scavenging hairy dude from Camp 4 in the Yosemite Valley - likely no longer exists, at least in the Western world where even hippies and dirtbags have profoundly confabulated wants and needs. The latter are generally many, the former, surprisingly few. Nor would I describe myself as a true dirtbag (I do, after all, own both a car and a caravan), but, I probably live much closer to the prototypical ideal than most which must give my top five tips for being a dirtbag some legitimacy.

Dirtbag method of washing yourself
  1. Stop caring (if you ever did) what any body thinks of you, your clothing (best if you are comfortable in filthy rags), lifestyle, haircut (you should be happy to hack your own off when it gets too long), body odour (what smell?), car, living arrangements, or any other significant or trivial character trait/flaw/habit. This is really imperative. You cannot step outside of societal norms if you can't handle the discomfit that comes from not fitting in anywhere, ever.
  2. Know what you want. The dirtbag lifestyle appears romantically evocative to those not living it. In reality, it's neither romantic, nor evocative of anything other than growing accustomed to doing without many of the things considered "necessary" in the western world. If you don't really want to live without a shower, toilet, clean clothes, barrista made coffee, or any form of climate modification - other than sweating or shivering - being a dirtbag may not be for you.
  3. Frugality has to become an ingrained habit. Forget the Himalayan sea salt, the organically harvested, speciality roasted coffee beans from your favourite hipster cafe, the new running/climbing/hiking shoes, the high-tech ultra-lightweight, over-priced outdoor clothing, the four different tents, three different stoves, two different sleeping bags, and the endless list of GPS gadgetry, smart phones and/or any other piece of electronic gimmickry.
  4. Make all your own meals, drink water, buy a thermos to carry your own coffee/tea, pack your own lunch/breakfast/dinner/snacks, dry your own meals, make your own jerky. See Point #3 above.
  5. As much as possible while pursuing your lifestyle, travel as cheaply as possible. Walk, bicycle, take public transit, drive if you must (it's really hard to get to climbing areas without driving), but avoid gondolas, ski lifts, helicopters, or any boat you can't paddle yourself.

In the nature versus nurture debate, nature wins every time when it comes to dirtbags; they are definitely born, not made. Truthfully, if you have to learn how to be a dirtbag, you're not ready.

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