Nomad Joe’s Wilderness Quest Experience
In April of 2018, David Clark led me through a 7 day Vision Quest retreat. All my life, I’ve always felt a deep pull to go deeper within, and to feel more connected to life. The realization that I only have one life and the need to live each day as if it were my last (because some day it will be my last) has grown sharp in recent years. This inner hunger for more drew me to a Benedictine monastery where I lived as a monk for 13 years. In all the spiritual wisdom traditions – at least in the early days of their founders – the practice of fasting was used in order for the practitioners to experience firsthand, his/her part in this life.
As a monk, I never fasted. Our founder, St. Benedict, when he was living 1,500 years ago certainly fasted. I became a monk because I was attracted to the mystical side of religion. The focus of our monastery was more about academics, knowledge, and hospitality. That’s wonderful, but what was really pulling at my heart was this desire to feel life intensely, at this moment, and in every single moment of my life. This desire to learn more about the mystical side of life finally drew me away from the monastery. I experienced a sort of calling to just let go, to let go of fear and to trust life.
I didn’t have money and I didn’t have a support system. I started researching how I could venture out into the wilderness by myself and find solitude in remote places far away from any distractions. This research led me to Bob Wells and his YouTube channel on teaching others how to live in a vehicle with very little money. That was the first time I saw David Clark. Bob Wells interviewed David in one of his videos. I also noticed that Bob had an event coming up in the Arizona desert where he gave advice on living simply in a vehicle in National Forests and on land cared for by the Bureau of Land Management. So, I decided to go to the event.
At the event in January of 2018 I was pleased to see that David Clark would be one of the guest speakers. I was blown away by the presentation. David invited me to his cabin in New Mexico afterwards. I spent a night at his cabin where he and his woman friend hosted me to a wonderful homemade meal and a great time of laughter and good conversation. It was a very warm environment. We decided to plan on meeting up in April to actually do the Vision Quest.
In April, David invited me to his cabin once again in NM. His property sits right across from the Sandia National Forest. He prepared me well for the fast. It was really important to come up with a well defined intention for the Vision Quest. Through counsel with David, we came up with “I AM a man who goes out into the wild to banish all fear and to embrace trust in every circumstance.”
He brought me out into the forest, on an exposed peak, where I could see the sky and the mountains bordering Albuquerque. I cannot even begin to explain what happened out there. One needs to experience this event firsthand.
On the first night, I had a hard time finding level land to sleep on, so I walked down the mountain and found a dried level river bed. I laid down and looked up out of this forest. The trees blocked out the sky, but since I was in the riverbed I was able to see a strip of the sky, which looked like a river shaped cutout of the starry sky. I never knew how many shiny stars there were at night. It was a wonderful mystical experience to fall asleep under the stars. The fear of death slipped away. The fear of anything just slipped away.
On the second day, I was invigorated with great energy. The veil just fell. I no longer felt any sort of separateness from nature or from anything. I just felt a deep connectedness. I used to be afraid of spiders, but I looked down and saw the spiders and the centipedes and they were so beautiful. I even felt connected to the spiders. I was invigorated with immense energy which lasted throughout the rest of the fast.
I was shocked by the fact that I was never really hungry. I had been drinking water and this helped to alleviate the hunger.
I felt, I was communicating with all of nature, without words. I understood the trees, the animals, the bugs, the wind, the stars and all things. It went deeper than understanding. I was being nature. There was no longer any sort of illusion of separateness. The person I was died out there in that forest. A being of fearlessness was created. I have rededicated my life to living this moment. My life is only happening right now and I am so in love with all of it.
The Vision Quest completely changed my life and I’m sure its effects will continue to reverberate all throughout my life. David and I are already planning another one for next year. Since the Vision Quest I’ve driven all the way to Washington and Oregon. I’ve spent an entire week with a herd of elk in the Carson National Forest, and I spent 7 days in the desert in Sedona, Arizona all by myself, feeling completely in tune with life and nature. I have never been more alive. I used to go by the name Brother Peter. I now go by Nomad Joe. I vow to suck out every last drop of life out of my time here on this earth, in this body.