Hey Let's Philosophy
by Joel Pomerantz
written 2000 (posted 2002)
I have been in the woods. My roommate Jasper
and I went on a backpacking trip for five days. This is
the kind of trip that gets remembered and mythologized.
I invited him because he is going off to Massachusetts or
Honduras, or...damn it's hard to pin him down. Anyway, I
wanted to get my fill of his sweet wit and fascination with
the world. I've really liked being around him these last
couple months (he's a subletter).
Also, I have been trying to defy the fates and get out of
the City for fun. I tried and failed many times recently.
My last attempt was abruptly halted when my adventuring
partner sprained her ankle on our stairs on the way out
of the house for a 10 day trip!
Jasper and I did get out of the City though, and we are
now back from the remotest area of the Mendocino highlands,
south of the Trinity Alps. Since everyone seeking beauty
in that region goes to the Trinity Alps, nobody was in Yolla
Bolly Wilderness area. Just us and the bears for five days.
We talked just a little too loudly and saw no bears (except
from the car, driving in on the hours of dirt roads). I'm
sure bears saw us, though: we encountered hundreds of scats
and paw prints, even fresh wet prints.
We also saw prints of humans: other than trails and trail
signs, we saw two pieces of orange tape and a used band-aid.
That was it. That was all. Barely any evidence of humans.
And no actual human sightings in five days of hiking, except
right by the trailhead. Wow, how removed, remote, beautiful.
I had lots of realizations while hiking and talking with
Jasper. One was that I've been trying to accomplish ambitious
community-building tasks in my work, in my home, albeit
with a smidgen of success, by sheer force of my own enthusiastically
hollered, "HEY, LET'S do this togethery thing that we all
so clearly wanna do!" Meanwhile, some people are turned
off, most aren't much affected, and there are better ways.
My new Hey Let's analysis says: It takes more than exuberance
+ good intentions + people to create group motivation. It
also requires timing, openness, flexibility and fertile
ground. And good listening—the ability to change course
I heard all about Jasper's life as we walked out and up
the canyons the last day, through the cold, clear stream
in the sun. I'm sure that Jasper is the most like me of
anyone I have ever met. Living with him for five months
has changed my life, if only just to know that someone so
similar to me exists. His personality isn't much like mine,
but his upbringing is: raised as a nondogmatic atheist feminist
in an intellectual family with a female head of household.
Seems like neither of us ever remembered to rebel, so we're
always trying optimistically to make a better world. Hey,
And his chosen lifestyle is similar, too: Living in cooperative
houses, exploring all different kinds of relationships,
being friends with his ex-lovers, being loving with his
friends, making money in short, intense bursts to cover
more flexibility during the other times. Loving to teach
and play and learn. Worrying about being too pushy, even
though he isn't. (But am I? No, Maybe I'm too pulley, though,
judging by my Hey Let's analysis.)
Hey let's! Let's do something fun! Let's do something important.
Let's go! Let's let go! Hey let's!