All I Want to Be When I Grow up is a Dirtbag
on a life of permanent wandering
A dirtbag is a permanent wanderer, a lifelong explorer.
Making friends everywhere, sleeping anywhere comfortable.
Refusing to participate in the normal economy any more than necessary.
Not a grisled dropout but a principled opt-out, shunning complaints and commutes and complacency.
Securing food, lodging, transport, and income with cleverness, flexibility, patience, and temporary discomfort. Never a thief, seldom a freeloader.
Economizing and efficient without misery or miserliness. Viewing a low-income life as a joyful game: How much can I do with how little? Like Berlin, poor but sexy.
Finding identity in communities of fellow travelers who share your lusty lens of consensual challenge. Going deep, developing competency, building expertise, earning respect through accomplishment and commitment.
Keeping eyes wide open to privilege, fortune, luck, how easy you’ve got it. Remembering how your “voluntary poverty” still equals “fabulous wealth and security” in most other places. Giving money away even when you don’t have much.
“Making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier . . . giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.” 1
Fulfilling your self-centered needs for autonomy, adventure, and nature while remaining connected to society, making an honest contribution, being of use.
Staying in motion, both body and mind. Learning, reading, discussing, reconsidering. Interested in everything, hard to pin down, a glorious generalist.
Accumulating no possessions, leaving no legacy, pursuing no form of immortality—for we are here to wander, die, rot, and be forgotten.
Forever alert to not miss the doing of the thing.
Forever with a little dirt under the nails.
“I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of 'em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures...”
—Kerouac, The Dharma Bums