It was about a year ago when I sold almost all my possessions and flew off for Thailand, thinking I would settle there or in some other tropical locale with lots of fruit and sunshine. Because of circumstances life brings us, my heavy heart wasn’t into this trip when the time came to actually go and live out this dream—unexpectedly solo, as it turned out—percolating in my brain for two years.
Going halfway across the world and living out of a large and regular-size backpack, both of which contained almost all I needed or wanted (only my cat and Vitamix blender were notable omissions, outside family and friends, of course), taught me some things about minimalism. This experience and my subsequent living experience in an 8-foot-by-10-foot bedroom showed me I can manage just fine with few possessions—and without almost all the things I had accumulated in my previous living space—for an extended period of time. This is especially easy in the digital age, what with books, music, films, images and documents all broken into ones and zeros yet magically appear on our screens or boom through our speakers in crystal-clear clarity.
Caleb Brokaw, who, over last winter and spring, lived in the home of Arnold Kauffman, owner of the Lansdale, Pennsylvania, raw food café Arnold’s Way, where I am living, called me a “Light Human,” and I’ve returned to this clever catchphrase from time to time. What this means is to live lightly in terms of your impact on the environment. Owning no or few possessions means drastically limiting our footprint on the environment. Just as one might travel light, one might live light, hence being a “Light Human.” One simply feels “lighter,” or less weighed down, by having fewer possessions, based on my experiences.
Imagine, for example, how easy it is to look at just a few shirts and choose one to wear in the morning. We gravitate toward our favorite clothes based on comfort anyway, so there’s no need to own 30 shirts when a few will do. Wear them until you wear them out.
The things you own end up owning you.
Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.
—Tyler Durden in the film Fight Club
All this said, it’s true, however, that the bananas and many other foods I eat are shipped many miles from sunnier, warmer climes, causing negative environmental impact, but I’m not going to turn my back on my species-specific diet solely to eat locally. It’s beyond reasonable for me to want the world to adopt a fruit-based diet but suggest raw fooders abandon family and friends and other aspects of life to move to the tropics so they can eat only locally. Still, leading a fruit-based diet is golden for the environment compared with continuing to eat animal products or even cooking potatoes or rice or beans. In the case of animal products, it takes lots of food and land to raise animals for food production, and the pollution tied to this beastly industry also causes damage.
Lots, I’ve found, who eat a low-fat raw food diet tend to focus on the basics in life, and these basics—adequate food, water, sleep, sunshine and physical activity, to name a few—matter so much more than the latest fashions or trends or the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses.” I would say this is a most interesting benefit of leading a fruit-based lifestyle and one that should be taken into account when weighing food costs on a raw food diet compared with the standard American diet.
Since I returned to U.S. soil, I have bought back a few things I sold, but most of these are out of necessity (water distiller) or to help me save time (widescreen computer monitor). I don’t ever envision myself buying a large home and spending 30 years working to pay to furnish, heat and cool this space—let alone spending thousands of hours maintaining it. I have a different plan, and it involves feeling awesome, spreading the raw food message and maximizing the use of my time, such a precious resource. Plus, the world population has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and McMansions are a selfish, irresponsible use of land, another precious resource, in comparison with tiny houses. There’s a wonderful tiny house movement growing, just like the raw food movement is ballooning.
Being a Light Human, in the end, is about experiencing freedom from the trappings that society has borne down on us for some time, especially in recent decades with the rise of a consumer-crazy culture.
Eat up your bananas—lots of them—and watch lights go on. One will shine the way for you to live simpler and with less environmental impact. The more you tune in to yourself and serve your basic needs with absolute devotion, the more you’ll tune out what you think the world demands of you.
This realization, I’ll say, is pretty sweet.