Nature’s Grand Adventure delivers 14 Days of Intensity


The best forward paddler in the world! Imtiaz Moosa.  He 'saw' what a beautiful day this was!
The best forward paddler in the world! Imtiaz Moosa. He ‘saw’ what a beautiful day this was!

I’m writing this post from the Days Inn motel at the small town of Moose Lake, MN, about 100 miles north of the Twin Cities, (Minneapolis St Paul). We finished our fourteen day canoe trip yesterday and leaving The Boundary Waters after a final days’ hard paddle, we drove down the shores of Lake Superior taking a much needed overnight rest stop on the drive back to Imi’s house. Its 5am and I think back to where I was yesterday at 5am, and how so different life can be… Particularly from a One Point Zero perspective?

Yesterday at 5am I was snug in my sleeping bag inside my 2 square metre tent (20 square feet) that has been a more than big enough house for me for the past 14 days. (Yeah that’s just 2m X 1m, compared with the 241 square meters (2600 square feet) of ‘the average’ new USA home built last year.) Why do we need so much space?  More space is one of the biggest contributors to One Point Six and increasing!

Outside the tent, the weather was a bit wild, with thunder rumbles all around, the occasional long flash of lightning, reminding me of the almost forgotten existence of electricity, and then the intermittent rain playing with the mind as it tempted me out of my cosy bliss. With a long day’s paddle and three portages ahead, we had decided to set off as early as possible this last day, and going to bed after a perfect sunset this storm was a bit of a surprise. In the silence between the rain squalls I was calling out to Imi in his tent, and negotiating a new ‘convenient’ time to get up and start the day. With rain gear on, we were soon outside taking down our ‘houses’, and me making breakfast for the day ahead. It’s hard to convince anyone who wasn’t there that this was invigorating, but after fourteen days of being fully exposed to Nature’s Grand Adventure, nothing bugged us anymore, and one sees the vitality in all the faces Nature presents.

Almost perfect!  Canoe empty and home all set up. Just enjoying the intensity of Nature!
Almost perfect! Canoe empty and home all set up. Just enjoying the intensity of Nature!

The Boundary Waters is an amazing wilderness in its size and unique, interconnected lake / forest topography. In the fourteen days we had traversed 30 lakes, doing twenty portages that were sometimes needed to cross from one lake to the next. Sometimes it was a waterfall or challenging waters, or sometimes it was just that there was no water connection between two lakes, but in these portages we had to get out and carry the canoe and all our stuff to the next lake. Over the years Imi and I have developed a great formula where we now does the portage on his own with his backpack and his paddle as his ‘white stick’, and I do the three trips, carrying first the canoe and one backpack, then returning to get the food and supplies pack. Imi is quite incredible how he manages these sometimes tough portages without assistance, and thankfully again without (major) injury.  He shared with me that he was apprehensive this trip as it had been two years since we had done a canoe trip and he wasn’t sure whether ageing and his recently acquired lounge recliner would have affected his toughness and portage confidence. It was just so great that halfway through this trip he shared with me how his confidence had returned and he was so thankful that I trusted him to allow him to take on the solo portage risk. Like me he did have a few battle scars to show from an unplanned encounter with our environment.

Two days it was cold enough for us to 'need' a fire. Imi in heaven for him!
Two days it was cold enough for us to ‘need’ a fire. Imi in heaven for him!

As we moved into the rhythm of the last day, and I started dealing with full on American society just around the corner I reflected on the simple life we had had and how things just move out of control as we enter society.

There we had not needed electricity for fourteen days. No hot showers or baths, in fact no treated water. The average developed world person uses something like 70 litres of water a day of which 40% is heated water, and there we hadn’t used any water other than the natural lake waters. We had no TV’s, no phones, no advertisements pushed in our faces, urging us to buy stuff we don’t need. We hadn’t bought a single thing in fourteen days; in fact neither of us had brought any money along. We’d use less than a litre of fuel for heating and our only form of transport was human powered. Our food was simple yet wholesome, and meal times were both special, and purposeful, and because of the weight constraints we were always at that ‘just enough is enough’ interface, that calls for mindfulness in restraint, but not to the extent that one feels sacrifice or denying oneself of a wholesome life.

I had a small bottle of Yukon Jack, bourbon whisky that lasted three days, and had me even wondering whether it was a good idea that I had brought it along. All this ‘mindful consumption’ makes one realise how so unmindful we have become. As I looked back on the long journey I have come I realised how my definition of success and happiness formula have changed and how ridiculously instant gratification and desiring of excess, extravagance, ‘luxury’ etc I used to be… There was no mindful brake that stopped and made me check my emotive desires to find it whether just following my ‘feelings’ was necessarily best for the whole of me, and helping me aspire to a fully intense human being: One that fits and deserves to fit in Nature’s team?

The full canoe from the helmsman's view!
The full canoe from the helmsman’s view!

Imi with me this trip and now really living One Point Zero and jointly trying to understand what One Point Zero means for society has brought both up very controversial discussions: Discussions about purpose, definition of life success, and what makes a fully intense, ‘Nature approved’, human being? We concluded that there are many symptoms of us humans today that clearly would fit into the ‘non-approved’ box yet we have accepted these as modern society.

After fourteen days living like we did, I felt fitter, healthier and more intense as a human than when we started, and both in our discussions and my further development of my relationship with Nature and our planet I felt I was continuing building something very, very, sacred to me: My belonging with this planet and all that goes with that….  I am a realist and love many parts of modern society and so know that living full time the very simple life I have just experienced is not enough for me, I do need more diversity of relationship with people and society, and my One Point Zero mission would be without purpose in The Boundary Waters. I have had much more intense and longer experiences deep in Nature’s wilderness and my need for these experiences will never go away, but rather deepen my bond and understanding of the hugely challenging relationship to be a full member of Nature’s team while also enjoying the vibrancy of belonging with a society that is far away from being part of Nature’s team. The challenge is to belong to both teams, (Nature’s teal, and The Human team) and to help other see that without belonging to Nature’s team there is no belonging as a full spiritual human, a void much bigger that most of us understand, and without belonging to humans there is no human belonging and a lesser void but one we perceive as greater and in so doing we risk compromise all humanity.

Typical lake with islands off 'our beach' Perfect swimming temperature.
Typical lake with islands off ‘our beach’ Perfect swimming temperature.

Over the next week I’ll be feeding back to you the conclusions and viewpoints regarding the three questions Imi and I set out to discuss. These questions being:

  1. What the ‘hell’ can ‘we’ do to get to One Point Zero?

(Those that know Imi, will know that including the word ‘hell’ is part of Imi’s style and an indication of a topic that is very close and passionate to him!! This ‘we’ isn’t about Imi and me, this is about ‘us’ all humans.

  1. How can we possibly have a Good Life with One Point Zero?                                                                                                 
  1. Should those who have contributed most to the One Point Six and increasing problem ‘pay’ the most for its resolution?

A last thought to challenge one’s paradigms and maybe help the One Point Zero learning process, and what this all means to us today:   In my pondering at The boundary Waters, and using America as my current reference country, I took the Global Footprint Network’s, 2016 data and turned my interpretation upside down coming up with what may be a strange conclusion:   The USA is 54% over populated! Now canoeing around the vastness of The Boundary Waters, and not coming across many people that would seem an impossible fact. Yes experiencing its populous big cities and walking in downtown Manhattan at rush hour may make that seem a bit more of a possible fact. Then travelling right across the country and seeing its vast openness, and many, many huge and magnificent National Parks, one would then be pushed back to saying there is no way the USA is 56% overpopulated!

Being an African, I have heard many people say Africa is overpopulated, and then with Imi’s cultural connection back to India, he vehemently states that India is overpopulated…  One of ‘The Facts’ is ‘Our Crowd Success’, and I have discussed this before in my blogs from the Ship trip, but maybe we should ask what we mean when we say ‘overpopulated’:  In One Point Zero context, overpopulated means that the ecosystem cannot sustainably deal with the level of the population, and their combined lifestyles as it relates to their combined ecological footprints.  So before we can say a piece of our planet is over populated we need to know two things: The ability of that specific part of our planet to deal with the footprint stuff humans create (The bio capacity), and then secondly how much of that footprint stuff the humans that live on that piece of planet actually create every day.  If there is more stuff being created than there is bio capacity then that piece of planet is overcrowded and is in need of some other piece of the planet’s bio capacity land to process its overload.

In the case of the USA it would need the size of the USA to be about 2.5 times the size of the country today.  Or putting it another way, there are some 56% too many people for the bio-capacity of the USA.

I found this quite a profound conclusion and since looking at the ecological problem from this overpopulation perspective, I have randomly asked those I bump into whether they think the USA has an overpopulation problem, and everyone has said “No”. Obviously the overpopulation problem can be corrected by a way of life consumption modification, but this is a huge undertaking and one that is where my work on One Point Zero is directed. How do we get people to see this huge overpopulation problem, take it seriously, and see that it’s not good for them, others, and all of Us?

I guess if there were other nations, or other parts of the planet that had surplus capacity the USA could rent this capacity, but the issue is the whole planet is seriously ecologically overcrowded, so there is no spare space????  Now I bet those real estate developers of you will be excited about thinking about how the undeveloped countries who do have some spare capacity can become overnight ‘zillionaires’ by renting / selling/ time sharing their unused capacity…?

As a real off the wall thought exploration, try and think through your over / under populated situation with you and your family / community:  The basic idea is that we each need enough green / good / natural real estate that has enough bio capacity to support our own life styles and carbon footprint.  Not sure that makes sense to you, and if you will enjoy exploring the concept, but it could lead you on a very interesting journey….

Sunrise or sunset.... Depends on how we want to see everything hey???!!!
Sunrise or sunset…. Depends on how we want to see everything hey???!!!

There were times in The Boundary Waters where I actually got angry about all this as I reflect on how ‘we’ have got ourselves into this position, and over my life how I was ‘shown the way’ by so many people, organisations, and preached belief systems that were all presented as THE only path for Success. Many of these were good people, people I trusted, and maybe even looked up to as people who ‘had Success’. I ask myself how I bucked the trend, and what made me walk away from ‘it all’ to try find ‘Real Success’.  Each time I answer that it was my soul calling me to be true to myself and too seek belonging with nature and our Planet above all as that was where belonging with the soul would be found. Way back then I had no idea that was the reason that that was the real motive, and in presenting this to you I don’t want it to come across as being religious, or new born, or whatever, this has been a path to human belonging: Belonging with our Planet, and it’s manager: Nature.

I assume many of you are going through a startling discovering process like I am going through, but with your unique perspective and situation. I expect that like me you could move between anger, inspiration, and a wonderful feeling of discovery of what human success means and how a sense of oneness with Nature and the whole of humanity is possible and how amazing and life enhancing that could be….

Anyway, there we go, my first post back in civilisation, and as usual straight from the heart….

Lots more to come over the next six weeks, as Trumped by Nature moves into a new phase: Over the next few days I’ll be wrapping up with Imi, and then Monday I plan to renew my relationship with Amtrak and take the train to Montana where I’ll be based for a week or so…. You can expect some fiery stuff to come for these next few weeks….

My container ship leaves from Oakland on 24th August, and it will be about 22 days to Auckland, New Zealand from there.

Thanks to the almost Zero Point Zero life of the past two weeks, I’m well on track for this Trumped by Nature’s goal.  Restraint in the next 3 weeks will be key!


More soon, and thanks for all the emails, and it would be great to see more comments…. This is about exploring together, don’t be shy!