The heat. Water. Sweat. Food. Sleep. The heat. My mind continuously falling into more basic needs and feelings. Rotating through immediate discomforts and thoughts. I notice my body more here. I have the time now to acknowledge the way that if feels and all of these feelings are more vivid than before. I surprisingly don’t smell, not as bad as I originally thought I would. It could be that we are eating clean and healthy, or it could be that I just don’t notice anymore. I have lost 6 pounds in the week that I have been here. The heat is picking up and it’s not likely to quit as we move deeper into the summer. Our days will be mellow while our nights and early mornings become busy working hours. I assume I will be using more water and rinsing off more, forcing me to be even more conscious about my consumption and what water I have left over. Although I grew up in a desert, being here reminds me how beautiful the desert can be, despite my immediate discomforts from the heat.
Interview 5: Jack
“The things that feel really important in the city, the things that cause you to say “I haven’t done enough” for me they start to fall away when I am in spaces like this.”
-What is your definition of happiness?
“Oh my god, can we come back to this one at the end…? Feeling good about who I am, what I’m doing. The people in my life. The things I can share and the things I can learn from. Feeling good about that stuff.”
-What makes you happy?
“Projects and having something to work on. Close friends. Weirdos. Living in the woods. Digging in the dirt. My cabin. Instagram likes. Getting an idea in my head and making it happen. Good conversation. Coffee. In particular coffee with a friend, but coffee in general.”
-What physical objects or technologies affect your happiness and why?
“I have a few objects that I bring with me whenever I go somewhere for a chunk of time… I’m pretty spread out: between the east coast of Canada, the far north of Canada and the desert southwest, so there are certain objects that makes me feel like this space is mine. And not all of the items have to have a memory attached. It can be aesthetic. Since I decided to leave my home for good, I’ve done this non-committal nesting thing where I’ll bring certain things and also buy things are thrift store, build some shelves and set up my space. Shelves make me happy. Living out of a suitcase does not make me happy.”
-Has limited access to water affected your overall state of happiness and if so, how?
“No. When I am living up north, I live off the grid, so I’m always paying attention to the water I use and the systems of water I use. And this situation is a privileged situation, so no it hasn’t affected my happiness. Because if shit hit the fan, I know I could go back to the city to get water, I know it is a privileged position to be in. Also, I’m drinking way more water now. I’m more conscious of how much I’m hydrating.”
-What is one thing you wish you could do right now that you feel would bring you happiness, but you are currently unable to do it because of your environment or access to water?
“I wish we all could have a glass of wine together at night. There is just something about sharing a glass of wine that connects us, ya know? It brings us into commune.”
-How has your happiness changed since you have been here?
“I feel really good here. It’s glorious. I was so busy. The busy/ness of the city, I enjoy, but being in that go go, go mode and then coming here and having your days in this space and getting to know the land and what grows here, it just feels really good. The things that feel really important in the city, the things that cause you to say “I haven’t done enough” for me they start to fall away when I am in spaces like this, and it’s about, when can I go out for a walk, what am I seeing, did I drink enough water, what can we do to the property to make this a better space to live in. And then those things become really important. And that feels really good.”
-As of 2023, the extreme water regulations are newer to the United States population, yet in other cultures and communities around the world, the energy required for securing and maintaining water is consistently this difficult, if not more. How has this experience allowed you to empathize and think about other areas and cultures of people that have such limited access to water or has it?
“I mean, I’ve been thinking about that as we go, although there is this divide in that this is a project that we have chosen to do to be aware of our own consumption. It’s hard to connect them for me.”
-What or who has provided you comfort and happiness while being here?
“I go for at least 2 hour walks a day. I decided while on the walks, while I was here I was going to learn to sing better. I walk out in the desert far enough where I think no one can hear me, it’s a freedom from thinking that I’m not good enough at singing, no one can hear me, it’s really freeing to sing. Singing feels good, and it feels good to not worry about it. Collecting things, going exploring and seeing what was left there and seeing that I may be able to see it in a differing way. When you walk out, and you’re by yourself, and noises are louder. All of the animals are camouflaged into the desert rocks, but you can start seeing them. It makes me feel closer to the place I’m in.”
-Can you tell me anything else about your current state of happiness?
“I don’t know, I just feel good here. I find this place wild and it’s exciting to be able to understand myself in it and learn from it, so that makes me happy. I’m also sleeping more than I usually do.”