Season Three, Episode 08 – Man Divided

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JAY BYRD: It’s like what Aristotle said. He said, unless you’re 40 years old, you might as well not even read my books. And what my point is, is sometimes we need a little life experience behind us to help us realize where we’re at and where we need to be. Understanding what the difference is. Because without life experience, there is no difference.

You just don’t know yet, you don’t see it. So it takes life experience to know the difference. And so I went through the same thing in my life, became a biker or whatever, an outlaw or whatever you wanna call it. And tried to be a good one. I had morals, respect. I wasn’t a rat. I didn’t break anybody’s finger who didn’t need it. But after a while you come to a place in your life where your hopes have turned to sawdust.

The world we live in is a radical contingency, which has every conceivable avenue of distraction that you wanna play with. I played with one that started dissolving my mind into a sphere that had no structure, no meaning. And all my desires were all irrational. I have spent probably years of my life figuring out how I was gonna kick somebody’s ass or get my money back or make a buck.

It’s no wonder I couldn’t think of anything good or happy or– and it took me till I was 50. I’m glad cuz I I left a lot of dead friends along the way. That– much better people than me, that just got taken out. By disease or playing too hard or whatever. Unfortunately, you can use these powerful tools of your desire, your freedom, your judgment, your intent.

You can employ those toward things that are meaningless. And if you do that, you will become meaningless. So by, by the grace of God, I had the honor of dancing. My name is Jay Byrd. I am living off the grid out here in Indian country, surrounded by Junipers. I got solar panels and I collect water off the roof and, hang out, meditate. Especially where I’m at is there’s no, just no human contact and there’s no accoutrements.

I was born and raised in La San Fernando Valley, 1953, so that makes me like 60. Ooh. I grew up there, Vietnam war and stuff, and hippies and good drugs and motorcycles and all kind of chaos. Vietnam is going on and all my friends are going over there and getting in the action, and I’m seeing ’em come back and they were different. You could see it in their eyes that they’ve been in the mix and they’ve seen some grit and I liked that. And so I wanted a piece of that. 

AUDIO CLIP: This is a different kind of war and there are great stakes. 

JAY BYRD: But before I became old enough to get into military, I got in a car accident and broke my pelvis and my femur and my back, and I had a bunch of metal put in me. So when I went to join, they wouldn’t take me. In those days, it was cool to be an outlaw. You weren’t supposed to trust the man, you weren’t supposed to trust society.

Weren’t supposed to trust anybody over 30. So who do you trust in? Inverts everything, it turns everything upside down so you, you really have no solid belief system. My folks didn’t go to church. They worked all the time to make the American dream, left us kids alone, my brother and I, to just do what we wanted to do.

By the time we were doing what we wanted to do, it was a little late to do anything about it cuz we were already off the hook. I wanted to become one of them bikers, one of them hell raisers, one of them folios because they didn’t take no shit off nobody, and they were cool. 

AUDIO CLIP: Motorcycle riding a national pastime for hundreds of thousands of people. Just as there are different bikes, there are different people who ride them. 

JAY BYRD: In those days, you could smell ’em from a block away and they were loud and obnoxious. I thought that was just the coolest shit possible. Of course in a foolish mind you, you think to be like that, you need to break the law. When I was 13 years old, I got arrested for commercial burglary because I was breaking into closed stores.

Stealing booze and cigarettes and I’d taken a carton of cigarettes and take ’em to school and start selling them to the kids at school, and to make my weed money and stuff like that. That time, 13, 14, my folks got divorced and my dad moved away and I stayed with my mom and she couldn’t handle me cuz I, I just wouldn’t come home anymore. And so she said either I had to leave or go live with my dad or go to a foster home or something.

So I had to go to a psychiatrist and they thought I was– something’s wrong with me. And cuz I told ’em I was gonna, I was just gonna run away. The only useful thing my psychiatrist told me, he said, well, I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go try it out with your dad and if you don’t like it, then you could run away. I said, hey, that’s a good idea.

At the time he was living up in Washington, I went up there and started living with my stepmom and him. Which unbeknownst to me, opened up the other side of the world to me. Cuz I was used to the city, I was used to chaos. I went from that to living out in the middle of nowhere like I am now. It was a culture shock, going from one extreme to the other. I couldn’t find a dope dealer. I couldn’t find no drugs or anything.

My stepmom was kind of a Christian. I found her Bible one day and it was like all marked up and it was like trashed, and I had never seen nothing like that before. I started asking her questions about what all that meant. It was just so outrageous to think that Jesus died for my sins. It’s like, what does that mean? You really care? Does it really matter?

Should I be concerned about that? This is like my senior year in high school. And since I couldn’t go in the military, I went to a bible college in North Dakota for three years. I studied theology up there and it was good, and it was cool. It opened up a whole new like way of thinking, but I didn’t really reject it. I just thought that it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t wear polyester, you know, I just could not stand to wear white belts and polyester.

After that, I moved back to LA and I fell in with my old friends. I started wearing leather and riding hot chrome motorcycles and acting crazy and doing drugs again. Of course, when your head is filled with nothing and you think it is, then you’re pretty dangerous. Consequently, it wasn’t very long until I started doing armed robberies.

You hit a nice restaurant on a three day weekend. On the last day before they– the banks open. They usually have a lot of money in there. So my friend, he wanted to go, we picked out a restaurant by the freeway. We could get away fast. We went in and it was crowded. Got a table, the front cleared out. I told him to get the car around.

I had my hair in a ponytail, so it was all pulled back. So when I let it down, you know, it would’ve been harder to, to recognize me. There was a lady up front and I pulled out a gun. I said, let’s go. Let’s go get the cash. Give me what’s under the drawer, gimme what’s in the drawer. I wanted everything, or as much as I could get. There was a bank bag and there was a few thousand bucks in it. Anyway, that was the first one. And it was exhilarating.

It could have gone bad. I could have got killed or somebody else could have got killed. Actually I think it went pretty good. It was right in line with being a crazy fool, and it was all good until I got caught and sent to prison. What happened was I was with another guy and he was my ride.

While I was robbing a place, he panicked and went out and split on me. I was without a ride, and so I was trying to get outta the area as soon as possible. And, in LA at the time, they had helicopters and everything else, and they, they caught me with the cash in my pocket. I think I had like $1,700 thereabouts. I really didn’t have time to count it, but that’s what they said I had. I wound up doing two years.

The first day that I was going to prison, rolled up on Chino in what they call the gray goose. We first came up on this place, gates, barbed wire, gun towers. I remember saying, holy shit, really fucked up this time. So I had a B number B76858, which is an old number 76, I guess for the year. I wasn’t like muscled up, but I was big and I’d been around enough that I knew that I just needed to keep my mouth shut.

Being an armed robber, that got me a little bit of respect. Then you had to learn how to act, what to do, what not to do, because when you’re in prison it is totally segregated. The whites hang with the whites, the Mexicans, with the Mexicans and the blacks with the blacks. So most of us just paying attention, asking a lot of questions. And not being a dipshit. I got out in ’78.

I started working, delivering masonry block and brick and stuff like that. I get paid and go get high, do some coke and heroin and get high for the weekend. Then I go back to work and work my ass off all week. Started working on motorcycles and that became my main objective.

Making faster motorcycles and hardcore motorcycles, you know, rigid frame. And hanging out with those hard partying guys and doing a lot of speed and stuff like that. Going on bike runs, I started hanging out with clubs. 

AUDIO CLIP: But police say that all too often, bikers break the law while in pursuit of a good time. It is the biker culture. Police say that provides the problems. Nevertheless, police say. 

JAY BYRD: I wanna make clear that I was never in a bike gang. I’ve been invited to be in a bike gang. I hung around with the guys, but I did not want to have to be in somebody’s club. Because you are devoted to each other. The hierarchy of a bike club is you have to earn your way in there. You can’t just show up and start hanging around with ’em guys.

If you’re invited, you can come to their bar, you can come to the clubhouse. If they like you and you want to, they will ask you to prospect. And when you prospect, you get a cutoff and you get a lower rocker. Whatever club it is, would would say like Southern California or whatever location.

And so you would be wearing that alone. And so that would tell everybody that you were the waiter. You’re the servant, you’re the busboy. They want you to ride to Colorado and pick up a pack of cigarettes. You ride to Colorado and pick up a pack of cigarettes.

They might have you go up on a roof and recite poetry or something like that. Or they might have you walk around with no pants on. Why do that when you can hang around and party with them without having to pay your dues.

AUDIO CLIP: There are bikers who are law abiding citizens who happen to have Harleys.

JAY BYRD: Around the eighties, the economy– you know, the construction started falling out. They had a little recession. I had to get a different job and so I was struggling from week to week, and finally I said, screw this I’m gonna start selling drugs. So I started selling speed around LA and Orange County, and I would go on a route. I would pick up like a quarter pound, half pound, sometimes a pound of speed.

I would go through San Clemente, through Southern Orange County and work my way up to LA. And then go into LA and I’d just drop parcels off all along the way. And of course people that didn’t pay, I would have to break fingers and stuff like that. Breaking a finger or two is like, enlightenment. Your finger’s gonna heal. You know, it’s not like I’m poking an eye out or anything like that.

If you pay attention, it’s gonna benefit you. Because you’re not gonna want to do that anymore. So ultimately it’s kind of a analogy, you know, breaking fingers is, is like life. If you keep screwing up, all your fingers are gonna be crooked.

And so I wound up with a lot of weapons, a lot of machine guns and handguns and stuff like that. I mean, you start collecting all kinds of meaningless stuff from people that couldn’t pay you. And eventually I was selling drugs to this girl named Sue. We wound up hooking up. She became my girlfriend. Unfortunately, she was as much of a lunatic as I was.

She loved carrying guns and, I couldn’t take her to the connection. She always wanted to go and she always like, gave me a really hard time. Cause I wouldn’t take her over there and she would pull guns on me and stuff like that. And I’d have to take ’em away from her. We were in Santa Ana and we were trying to get to Costa Mesa and I was higher than gas. I was like on the nod, so I was having Sue drive.

Anyway, she got off on the wrong street. We got off on Beach Boulevard, which is Huntington Beach, and there’s more cops in Huntington Beach than there are people. So I told her to turn around, let’s get, go back to the freeway and let’s get the hell outta here. Well, we were turning around.

The cops were in the parking lot and saw us, and one of our headlights was out of alignment. The cop pulled us over and my dear lovely girlfriend at the time left her pistol in between us on the front seat. And so she’s telling– she’s talking to the cops and so he asked me who I am, what’s my deal. Unbeknownst to me, he sees the .45 on the seat.

Comes around to my side and he says, could you please step out for a minute? And as soon as I did, he jumped on me and at the same time, reached in and grabbed the pistol off the seat and stuck it in my mouth. And it was a hair trigger on this thing. He said some remark, like, if you fuck with me, I’m gonna blow your brains out with your own gun. I got arrested again.

I wound up doing two years for that. For possession of dangerous drugs, transportation of narcotics and loading concealed weapon, felony with firearms. And I went back to Chino again, but I went to California Men’s Colony, which is a part of Chino. And at that time they had a program in there called Art Works Program.

And what they did, they painted paintings for the institution. And they used to put ’em like the administration buildings and they used to sell ’em to the public. I was pretty good at art. In fact, one of my hustles when I was in prison was I would do portraits of an inmate and they’d send it to their old lady. So that, that was my hustle. I’d make — buy my cigarettes and stuff like that with doing portraits. I got into this artworks program. The administration liked my work, so I was in demand at that time.

They had a three strikes policy. I knew that after I got out, if I just paroled to California, it would just be a matter of time until I would be doing 25 years. So I said goodbye to California, and as soon as I got out of prison, I got a sack of dope and went to New Mexico. And from there I went to Flagstaff, Arizona. Was trying to make the transition from making an illegal living. I should mention, I like tattoos. You never have enough tattoos on you. So nobody was doing tattoos in Flagstaff.

A couple friends of mine, and I got together and decided that we would open a shop in Flagstaff and do tattoos. ’93, we started doing tattoos. While we were trying to get the shop ready, we were doing– putting some walls in and stuff like that. So I went out in the alley, smoke a joint, and I had like a little bindle of speed in my pocket. And lo and behold, who walks around the corner, but freaking biggest gung ho cop in the whole city.

Arrested me for possession of dangerous drugs. And I wound up doing house arrest. It was really kind of comical cuz they didn’t want me doing tattoos because I was around all these thugs and low life people according to them. And of course I was. In fact, I got so strung out on heroin that I got a good habit going and I started getting sick and stuff and– which is kind of crazy cuz I was on house arrest, and doing piss tests and stuff like that.

During this house arrest procedure, Sue my, my longtime Bonnie and Clyde sidekick, split on me. So I hooked up with Jennifer, who was even a bigger dope fiend. And she could really handle her drugs. I mean, she could do a lot of drugs. You go to prison and you get second senses, you know when something’s gonna happen. You can smell it, you can feel it, you can, you got your spider senses going on, you know. And something’s gonna come down. Some somebody’s gonna get hurt or sometimes, you just dunno what it is.

You just know that it ain’t a good thing. So you just start watching out. And there’s a bunch of weird people coming over to our house. A club of guys that were using drugs, selling drugs, a little prostitution. They would extort money from people, businesses, people that they could muscle strong arm or whatever. Of course, that was none of my business.

I didn’t know their business and I really didn’t want to know their business. I knew that this was not a good scene. So I told my old lady, I told Jennifer, I said, you know what? Stop selling. Stop. Get rid of everything. Quit clean up. Something’s coming down. Anyway, we got raided by, The Get Him task force, which which is a gang task force, and they are loaded to bear and they surround the house and come in and all they could find is a bag of weed.

All they could find is a bag of weed. They were fucking pissed. But they took everybody to jail anyway, but I was clean. And so they started telling my old lady, you know what, your boyfriend and he’s in big trouble. We’re gonna throw him right back in prison again and he’s gonna be there for a long time. I get outta jail cause they couldn’t keep me there cause I didn’t do anything. So she said, well, what do you want me to do?

And I said, well– I put a wire on her and I said, go talk to him and we’ll record it. What they wanted her to do was talk me into being a snitch for– they wanted me to join the Hell’s Angels and be a informant. She got out and I took the tape to the brothers. I said, Hey, this is what they’re trying to do. I gotta get outta here cause these guys are following me all over the place.

They’re gonna find some little thing and lock me up. And the Hell’s Angels wanted me to join. I said, Hey, you guys got medical and dental? You guys got an old fucked up biker retirement home or anything like that? I said, because I’ll tell you what, I ain’t wearing a target, fuck this. I ain’t gonna do it.

One of the brothers was in Show Low and he said, well, I’ll tell you what, if you move to Show Low, I’ll hook you up in a shop, tattoo shop. We’ll, start you doing tattoos over there. And so that’s what we did. We opened a shop over there. He rented a place for me and hook me up with enough money to get started. And in the meantime, Jennifer, who got busted too, was on probation and she wasn’t doing very good job of it.

So she got thrown in rehab and she got out. And I said, let’s clean up. Let’s just quit all this fucking bullshit and clean up. Cause I’m just freaking miserable and getting more and more miserable as I go. At this time I’m 45 years old. I know what good is, but I dunno how to get there. Other people might have said, well, you’re a good guy. But in my heart, I did not feel good. I didn’t want to go out in that frame of mind. And all this time, I hadn’t really lost my spiritual propensity.

I know there’s some spiritual ground here somewhere, but, I am so far removed of it. I don’t know where the hell it is. I don’t know how to get there. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go to a church, I didn’t want to go to AA. I didn’t want to like accept Jesus as my personal savior, cuz that really didn’t mean anything to me.

I know Christ is powerful, but, hey, I need some help. I don’t need a formula, a magic formula or anything like that. I need some serious stuff to change my life from this chaos. So I made a simple prayer. I said, Lord, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know. I really don’t know who you are or what’s going on or how to. Please, please help me out here. And of course I really didn’t see it at first, but from that point on, things started happening.

We had a raging fire over there in Show Low at that time, it was the biggest forest fire in the history of Arizona, and it shut the town down. We had to evacuate for a month, and so when we came back, there’s no economy left. Nobody has any money. Everybody’s trying to get started again, so I can’t pay rent. People are trying to get back to work, let alone trying to buy tattoos.

So the business is zero. My Hell’s Angel buddy. He’s going, Hey man, you owe me like $500 and I’m all, fuck, you’re fucking $500. It’s like, can you see what’s going on here? By this time, my old lady had taken off with my friend, and at first I got pissed. But then I said, oh, this is part of that prayer. I kept seeing all this stuff happening, like, it was like my spiritual man started speaking to me, going, you see the opportunity?

And I said, yeah, my old lady’s gone. The business is gone. I’m outta here. And so I said, I’m not gonna be a biker anymore. I had a big ponytail, a big goatee and stuff like that. And that was my look. I wasn’t happy being this guy. So I shaved my head like a Buddhist monk. And people are going, what the hell?

I owed Rick, my friend, Hells Angel guy, 500 bucks. So I said, well, I don’t have any, I give you a motor, a Harley motor. First. He said, no, let’s not do that. And then he came back a week later and he said, yeah, let’s do that. All of a sudden it dawned on me that this is the next step. I brought all this stuff over to his house. I brought all my gear, my bike, my tools, my letters, and, and I said, here you go, dude.

And he, and he’s looking at me like, are you cool? What’s wrong, dude? And I said, you know what? Consider me dead. I am no longer here. And he’s going, fuck dude, I think you did too many drugs. It was like a relief. I didn’t have any stuff to watch. I didn’t have stuff to protect, and so it’s like, now what are you gonna do? All of a sudden I’m like, nothing holding me anywhere.

I have no. I don’t own anything. I don’t have any kids. I don’t have any responsibilities. I don’t– so this book came in the mail. I don’t know where it came from or why it came in there, but it was a Christian book talking about 40 days. Moses fast in 40 days and Elijah fasted 40 days. Jesus fasted 40 days. And maybe this is it.

Maybe you know, this is what the deal is. I didn’t want to die a dope fiend. I didn’t want to die a dark, unproductive, miserable person. To me it would be– that would be my hell. And it took another year after that, but finally it culminated in my departure from everything.

I hadn’t been camping for 30 years. Luckily, my dad was a woodsman and he taught me about how to get along in the woods, so I had that behind me. My buddy, he’s a tow truck diver, so he had all kind of crap from people leaving stuff in their vehicles. And so we had a bunch of camping gear.

So I started getting everything I needed together and I had a backpack, duffel bag, and I brought a few books. Of course a Bible and then some other spiritual books. I started looking on the, on maps and everything and trying to figure out where I could go, where I could have water.

Cause that’s the most important thing is you need the water. So I looked on the maps and I found in the wilderness area out west of Flagstaff, there’s some springs out there. I called the forestry place and I asked them if those springs go all the time and they said, yeah, they’re pretty regular springs.

My project when I went out into the wilderness was to deconstruct my apathy and start trying to figure out what to replace it with. This canyon’s pretty deep and so my plan was I was gonna take my stuff to the bottom of the canyon cuz there was a spring down there and I was gonna make a little base camp and hang out down there.

And see if I could pray my way into some kind of wakefulness. Got a ride from my buddy Jim, told him where I wanted to go and he said, okay, well I’ll take you out there, but I don’t feel comfortable with leaving out in the middle of freaking nowhere. Cuz it was a couple feet of snow on the ground out there. In fact, we couldn’t even get to the trailhead. We could only get so far and he had to drop me, cuz the snow got too deep.

And I had some snowshoes from a friend of mine. And of course I’m a sucked up dope fiend. I’m not Mr. Mountain man. I hadn’t run a lap in 30 years. I was five miles from the trailhead, and my map skills at that time were minimal, although I did have a compass and I knew how to read it. So I’m plowing through the snow. And then I camped underneath this oak tree, and it was quiet and it was like really quiet.

And it was the first time I recognized that I wasn’t hearing nothing. I was amazed and feeling the cold, and smelling the smells. I was tripped out. And of course I brought a quarter pound of weed and a few Percocet. So it was like pretty amazing to me becoming intimate with that ethos or that situation. No tv, no radio, no people, no– I didn’t have to be anywhere.

I didn’t have to make any money. I didn’t have to pay any rent. It was so silent and I slept really good. What my plan was, I was gonna set up a camp and then I was gonna hike down through Sycamore Canyon to, Clarkdale. I make my little camp up there, and in the morning I wake up to somebody chopping wood. I come here to get away from everybody and here I’m in somebody’s camp.

And there’s a road that comes down, this really rugged road that comes down to this trailhead. And during the winter, a tree had fallen over the road blocking it. And so I follow the sound and here’s this dude chopping the tree out of the way. I say, what’s going on? What are you doing? And he said, I’m out here camping. I say, really? In the middle of winter?

He says, yeah. He wasn’t very talkative. And he had a really bad haircut, like he was attacked with scissors or something. He said, I saw your tracks coming down here. It looked like you were dragging a body. I said, no, that’s my duffle bag. And he said, well, what are you doing? He says, I’m, I told him I’m doing a little soul searching. And he said, well that’s kind of what I’m doing out here.

It started snowing. And he said, well, I’ll tell you what. If you want to come down to my camp, we’ll have some coffee and you can hang out for a while. And we’re going down in the canyon and it’s coming through oak orchards and there’s some turkeys and some deer. I thought I was in like Alice in Wonderland or something.

And I’m just looking around trying to keep up with him at the same time without tripping on stuff. And we’re going down the trail and finally he leaves it– he started leaving the trail and he says, try not to leave any prints cuz I don’t like anybody knowing where I’m at. So we go off down this kind of ravine and around this corner and about a mile down the road we come out on a cliff, about halfway down the canyon.

And here is this setup. He’s got a little house set up, but it’s tarps with a roof on it, and he’s got little chairs and little tables and kitchen counter. He’s made a rock fireplace and he’s got like a handmade stepladder. And I’m going, whoa, dude. He told me he, he’d only been there a couple weeks and he said, you have really been busy for a couple weeks.

And he said, actually, I’ve been down here two and a half years. Come to find out. This guy says, I’ve been down here too long. I’m starting to hear voices. He said, I’m going back to Camp Verde. And I said, well, what are you gonna do with this place? And he said, I was gonna tear it down, but if you want to hang out, as long as you take it down, when you leave, you can have it. And we shook hands.

I come down here to seek a little truth, a little enlightenment. And here this camp is all set up. Firewoods cut, everything’s set up, and this guy’s leaving. It was like a miracle. 50 years old. I wasn’t wanted, I wasn’t pursued, I hadn’t been clean and venture to say 25, 30 years. So over this period of time, the first thing I got used to was nature and how it worked and how it subtly speaks to you.

I think my first year there was just becoming friends with my environment. So I had to start facing all this stuff and dealing with it. Experiencing like being depressed and stuff. And it’s not like I really missed anybody. I didn’t have any kids. It took me a year to get over my ex to reach a point where I knew I was gonna be a celibate for the rest of my life.

Not because poor me, but a relationship is a commitment, time consuming. And to do it right, you need to be there. I started reading theology. I started reading Buddhist stuff. I started reading how to meditate because could see that my mind, it was like a monkey loose in the house.

It was like I had this monkeys running around breaking, tearing shit up and going freaking crazy. And that was my mind. And then I started meditating and learning how to recognize what distraction was. It was like I was totally born again, not that being born again is all good, cuz being born again means now you’re just starting. Now you gotta learn how to walk, you gotta learn how to see, you gotta learn how to hear.

I would be out there for a few weeks, a month or whatever, and then I would come back to town because I still had a room at my friend’s house. I came back to a house that’s full of drugs, full of drama.

It’s like I went to a different planet. I could see the difference so clearly. Where before I couldn’t see it at all. Cause I was just right there in the middle of it. It was horrifying. And so when I go into town, I practically live at the Klein Library, which is the Northern Arizona University Library.

Cause they got a great theology and philosophy section. So I go up there and read and do my trip back and forth. My friend Jesse, who’s been– I’ve known him for 25 years. Jesse, he worries about me being out there in the boonies cuz he doesn’t know if I’m gonna break my leg or something. So he gave one of these spot things. It’s a gps, then it’s got a help button, which just tells him that I need some help.

I’m, maybe need some food or I need to meet you, or something like that. I was sitting on a ridge looking down toward where my camp was testing this thing. I’m hiking around and I’m pressing, okay, pressing, okay. And all of a sudden here comes this helicopter and he goes right down into the canyon, right over right where my pad is, and I’m going, holy sheep-shit. And they’re flying around and I’m going, that is my place.

And so I’m sitting up there wondering what to do, so I call Jesse, I said, is there somebody lost out here? I think they found my place. And so I waited till the helicopter left and I waited a little bit longer and I went down to the trailhead to see if anybody was there. And I didn’t see anybody, no cars or nothing.

So I went back down to the place and somebody had been through my stuff. They had all my maps out, my bags open, and they’d gone through everything and I knew it was– must have been the forest cops cuz nothing was gone. It was too much stuff just to pack up and leave.

So I just said, okay, well see what happens. Nobody has come across this place in five years. So in the morning I get up, do my devotions and stuff, and I was laying there listening to a tape and I hear somebody over the tape saying, Hey, can you come out here and help me out? I went out there and click, click. I was surrounded by alcohol, tobacco, and firearms guys, and a forest cop.

So they handcuffed me. And they asked me where the drugs are, where the guns are, where this is. And I don’t have no drugs. I don’t have no guns, I don’t have nothing. And I’d say, I’m a spiritual seeker, I’m out here seeking the truth. And they’re like, right. They started going through all my stuff. I had a camera, they’re going through my camera, going through my phone.

And they, what happened was they found my– found a Bashas’ receipt that had my name on it. And they ran the NCIC and all this background came out. So they thought they had some kind of unabomber or something. They were trying to find out what I was doing. I told ’em, I’m trying to get my life together, trying to change my life.

They couldn’t really believe it. So they threw me in jail for a week until they could find out that I wasn’t doing anything illegal. And so they kicked me outta the woods and charged me 70 bucks for making improvements on federal land. It took ’em a couple days and a mule team to get my stuff out of the canyon and they delivered it to the house and they didn’t charge me anything.

In fact, I had a couple guys saying that they really admired what I was doing and they were really sorry that they had to pull me outta the woods. In ’09 after I got kicked out of the woods by the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms people, I went to the Gila for a while. A friend of mine has 20 acres out off the grid there. It was starting to get a little wind worn.

The wind out there is hellacious. It kind of peeled the roof back and nobody was living out there. So I asked my friend Bonnie, if I could fix a place up in trade for staying out there. What I first needed to do was get it weatherproof. Get it varmint proof. This is Arizona, there’s no water. I found a abandoned place out there that was falling to the ground and I got the gutters off of it and some 50 gallon drums. Made a water collection system.

One good monsoon storm. I can get 500 gallons off the roof. We’re located right by the Navajo reservation, which is the Painted Desert, which is to our east. To the west is Flagstaff, so we’re kind of an old Indian country. There were times– I had bear problems. One time while I was out found a dead mule deer. So I got his head cuz had a nice rack and I nailed it to a tree by my camp. I was gone for a few days.

The bear came through and just tore everything up. You know he tried to get that deer skull off the tree. He went through all my stuff. And he must have been there for a couple days cause I found bear scat. I’ve heard trees fall. I’ve heard rocks fall in the canyon. I’ve been close to lightning strikes and flash floods.

But you know, you use common sense and kind of keep yourself out of a situation where you’re gonna drown or something, or get attacked. Washing your hands, keeping your stuff clean so you don’t smell like a Scooby snack. I do have a crank radio or a solar powder radio, and I have gotten a couple solar panels too, and some batteries I can read at night. Now I can charge my iPhone. I can hike a mile and a half and hit a receiver, see if anybody’s left me any messages.

My main concern with my iPhone is I have lectures loaded onto it. Lectures from different universities that you can download from iTunes. I’m reading a lot of great philosophy, a great theology, and starting to put stuff together and I’m writing some really good stuff in coming up with some really fruitful thought.

When I first started this lifestyle, I didn’t really understand that people have been doing this for thousands of years in a hermitage or solitude. Where you have no distractions is a perfect setting for spiritual contemplation. It’s like a tool, so you can adjust your desires. You can adjust your thinking because you can point your thoughts in any direction you want to.

This is my, like 11th year I’ve been doing this. All my dope fiend friends, they’re all gone. I don’t know any dope fiends anymore. And the ones I do are just from the past and I maintain a couple relationships with those folks. And just try and spread the love and spread the seed of truth. What it comes down to is what do you think and why do you think, and how do you think.

Because that’s what you fill your heart with. It’s good to confront your demons, but it’s not good if your demons want to destroy you. I don’t have any demons after me. There’s plenty I did that I don’t like. I look back and I shudder mostly just because I was a dipshit. You live, like say in this dimension, like your cultural dimension or whatever, whe whether it’s being a outlaw or being a banker or whatever.

You have a little sphere of people, you know, things you do, notions of success. But if you can set that aside and become hooked up to truth, love, goodness, beauty, in the endless ineffable gestalt of being. Now that can start teaching you or opening you up and helping you to become that what you were meant to be.

We’re in an ever learning, ever unfolding process as long as we don’t get distracted by all the bullshit here. So your will becomes good if your mind is filled with truth, and then out through your will you start doing beautiful things. It’s just automatic. And when you start developing that kind of structure in your being, then you can’t help it become beautiful person. And in that structure of truth and goodness and beauty in your being, you become bulletproof.