Saturday, May 07, 2011


The temperature in Michigan dropped below freezing. Snow was plowed into large piles, which would take many spring days to thaw. During the day I drove truck for Canada Dry Bottling Company. At night one could spot me crawling into my box with my Carhartt Arctic Thermals, Danner Super Rainforest all-leather boots, and a wool hat to steal a good night sleep. The dogs napped close to my side, curled, balled tightly, keeping their heat from escaping. I slept tucked away in a mummy sack. We all never raised any complaints about the cold.

Topper Built on My 1985 Nissan
Topper built on my 1985 Nissan
Before building the box, I found a nice Oregon rental, which was a cycling distance to Corvallis city limits. A kitchen / living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom, the rental was located off a gravel road where night pitched blackness, where only stars could be seen. Quiet and peaceful, I decorated the place with nice furnishings. The rent was inexpensive and the management was fantastic. During cold months, gas heat kept the place nicely at seventy degrees. I would invite friends over for dinner and occasional talks, while the tranquil guitarist Stanley Jordon was heard over a set of speakers. I never before lived in such a place that I loved so much.

Awakened by the sound of a loud scraping noise and flashing caution lights, I could see through the box’s windows that it was early morning. The snowplows were out clearing the road for the start of the new business day. The Michigan night sky had brought down many inches of snow, which my dogs found very exciting as they rolled and skipped through the accumulation. The pickup was running and warming its engine when the dogs and I ventured into the early morning darkness for a refreshing chilly walk. We would return twenty minutes later finding the pickup’s interior cab very toasty warm and its windows defrosted.

In Corvallis, Oregon, I built a 4x6x5 foot wooden box, which would fit on my 1985 Nissan pickup’s six-foot bed. With 2x2 inch studs and ¼ inch plywood, I had screwed together a box for living. Building from penciled drawings and wanting a change -- my wooden box was built within a weekend. With a few friends at each side we lifted the wooden box and placed it upon the bed of the truck. People I came in contact with after its completion would call the wooden box a topper.

From five ante meridiem until six post meridiem, I pushed and pulled a dolly through drifted snow mounds and drizzling, freezing snow. At the end of the work day, my toes possessed an achy tingle, which started my feet bouncing a rhythmic step aiding warmth to the sting. Night had come. I found my way to my pickup. Swinging open the topper’s back door, the dogs jumped out and raced around in an open field. Climbing inside the topper, I found the dog’s bowl of water had spilled -- soaking and freezing deep into the mummy sack and into the dog‘s bedding. The mummy sack was stiff as a board! Books and papers that were near the mummy sack were also solidly frozen. No problem, it was a Friday and no work tomorrow, I could dry the items tomorrow. We all spent the night sleeping in the cab of the pickup intermittently turning on the truck and warming up the cab.

I stood in the center of the living room slowly turning clockwise, taking note of what items are of use. I rented all this space and never utilized any of it. I spent much of my time in Corvallis: school, working, homework at the local coffeehouse. I stood questioning the space that I occupied. Did I need all this space to live! Why should my questioning of this space be a problem? I was able to afford the rental space. The motto of owning or renting square space in which to “live” was probably a deeply ingrained idea that I gleaned from previous traditions of our culture. The truth being I seldom found myself interacting within the walls that I rented. It was definitely the space that initiated thinking about moving... The box idea was born. Everything I own is now organized on shelves in my topper.

Space was the catalyst. The essence of living this way is that you find out the essence of the motion of nature. The truth being that what we are told isn't necessarily true. When I moved into my topper, I started living in different surroundings and started noticing how social images were telling us how to maintain oneself. Michigan was the test of living the way as I do, which I lived very comfortable and tranquil throughout the winter, contradicting the societal addiction (monkey on my back). Learning many social images are false. This has lead to many other great insights. I do not participate with the expatiations of the societal image except when necessary for their enforced expectations.