If you call someone a dirtbag, you might be insulting them for being dishonest. Or, you might be describing their lifestyle -- their pursuit of an outdoor passion at the expense of more mainstream options and commitments.
If you've ever dreamed of being a rock climber living in a van or becoming a rafting guide, thru-hiker, world traveler, or some other kind of nature-loving, adventure-seeking wanderer, my guest has written a handbook for making it happen. His name is Tim Mathis and he's the author of The Dirtbag's Guide to Life: Eternal Truth for Hiker Trash, Ski Bums, and Vagabonds. Tim and I begin our conversation with what it means to be a dirtbag, the origin of the term amongst the early rock climbers who explored Yosemite in the 50s and 60s, and why Tim thinks the lifestyle embodies a countercultural philosophy. Tim then offers a window into why others might adopt this approach to life, by sharing his story of how he personally became committed to dirtbagging. From there we turn to the brass tacks of embracing a life centered on outdoor adventure and exploration, beginning with how much money you need to make it happen, and the kinds of jobs and careers that are conducive to it, including, perhaps surprisingly, the field of nursing. Tim also shares how he responds to criticism that being a dirtbag isn't a responsible way to live. We then discuss the effect dirtbagging can have on someone's relationships, and whether this lifestyle is viable if you have a spouse and kids. At the end of our conversation, we discuss how, even if you're living a more freewheeling lifestyle, it's important to have a sense of meaning beyond traveling around and doing cool stuff, and the three elements that go into finding that kind of meaning, which apply to dirtbags and non-dirtbags alike.
Get the show notes at aom.is/dirtbag.
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