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 midstream.

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, let's!

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!


Joel Pomerantz

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