Tramp Life Chapter 3: The Life’s Work

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Down those tracks in a quiet New England town, sleeps an old tramp, old in soul at least. A Mexican textile wrapped firmly round his beaten body like a cocoon, healing him through the nocturnal hours, with a bed of grass, and the sounds of night fauna to swoon him. He lies waiting till sun up for a long day on the road. Waiting for the next work, that hobo wanderer. The way of travel is his means, as long as he keeps his feet moving. Just a month ago, he was in the valley, planting trees, and farming grapes for wine, and crossed the provinces out to the east, for cabin renovations with an old friend. The way is long and hard to a friend, but is worth more than the short road to an enemy, he knows that. And the work is sacred, because it is the reputation, it is him. Now he lies by those railroad tracks, but he is yet unknowing in where he will be led instinctively.

Thus is the work of the tramp, or the old hobo wanderer. It is a path of relentless travel, a restlessness known by only a few, it is an outlaw way, at times when the work needs to get done, and no one else will do it. A short gig in the clearcut will present itself, and for two months, he’ll be out sleeping in the desolate woodlands with the bugs, cooking out over the fire, and doing the grunt work from sun up to the pining hours of light. But it has to end, and then the works all done in summer, he’ll take his deeds down the valley and farm in the old villages, working for the rich who make expensive wines from the hands of his labor, it is hot, exhausting and backbreaking, and before long, the fruit is all gone, and the work calls him elsewhere. The maritimes are looking to round out the harvest, and cut the last firewood to prepare for the long IMAG0669-1winter to come, a new cabin is renovated to take up residence… Out on the west coast, reefer plantations need some bodies to trim ganja, and he knows just the folks there that’ll put him up. He crosses borders, and heads into the mountains.

This is the sacred work, that of the hands and heart. There are no schedules, except those decided by nature’s highest will, no papers exchange in desperation of proving one’s skills, the reputation is the word and the deed. The work does not last, because living like this entails a semi-nomadic lifestyle. One gig will set you up with a few months of cash, and then it’s time to find another. The in-between is just as important as the time during though. It is the time in between when a tramp creates his narrative. Travelling the world, seeing the beauty, and working his or her magic and truly living all the way alive. The work is a catalyst in the struggle for existence, as it is for almost everyone, but it does not mean it is meaningless. This is why, his or her work must be done out of virtue and not out of hardship. This is an attitude I chose to adopt in its subtle forms, some years ago while studying Buddhist philosophies. The action of our selves must proliferate in their highest forms, otherwise they are not real, and hold little value. I chose to have this sentiment as a perminent reminder for any work I appraoch, whether I am living comfortably in a close friends spare bedroom, and tending to the land and homestead during the diurnal hours, or living semi-primitively out of a tent with a lover, and inspiring new life projects to take form out in the desert, or maybe in a mountain valley, sharing my domain with wolves and bears, while hitchhiking to and from a lonely backroad farm to put in my salt… and it ain’t also pretty either, day after day for pocket cash, or piecework that tests your physical and mental limits. A lot of what I do also involves resistance and conservation work from afar, through donations to wolf and primate sanctuaries, and the Survival scheme for the sustenance and fight of the indigenous and un-contacted tribes. I adopted an arctic wolf that lives in England now with 4 other packs. They live in a sanctuary for rescued wolves from human abuse or the pet and science world. The Tribal organization works out of California, and sends support to these endangered peoples who are exploited on their own land. The vein running through all this is the nature of the work itself. It must be sacred, it must be relevant, and like any real work, it should outlive ones self. If it can be built and added to over time, it is all the more rewarding, because the time in is a gift out, it works from the inside out.

The way of the tramp, and his or her work, seems to be a lost path in the modern age, with the induction of automatic labor, more machines, and fewer of the shiny pesos to go around. But the old ways of manual labor, community involvement, and the nomadic travel across countries and states with hundreds of others doing the same thing is now rare. I know specifically certain routes that are taken by those vagabonds of the spirit who know whence to turn their direction. Quebecois and the Eastern Canadians travel from coast to coast, to pick cherries. Youngs guys and gals flock to the north to put in gruelling reforestation sessions out in mosquito counties. Folks of New England and the midwest go in droves, out to the Emerald Triangle for that sweet old bud, and some make it to Old Mexico, for a few more hot months, when those trupaderos want to cash out on their farms. Some travel on ground, hitchhiking thousands of miles to make it count. My own counter is somewhere around 35 thousand in just 16 months now.

The work is an outlet to travel to some of the most far out places, meet interesting folks who have done the same, enjoy your days even when it is pouring sleet, scorching heat, or far from civilization, and will get you back home with some money to do it again, wherever that home may be. The home is where your heart is, and where you rest yours bones to sleep. The work is life itself, a greater deed, and we’re all clocked in. It is wisest to make it worthwhile before you can’t.

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