Dave lives on the Camino and has for almost 10 years. He lives outside of Astorga with no water or electricity and few modern conveniences. He lives off the donations of pilgrims and in turn provides weary travelers with just about anything they might need. With the donated cash from pilgrims and food from locals Dave provides an oasis; a free store stocked with everything from bananas, oranges, cookies, tea and my favorite, yerba mate. His day consists of fetching water, managing his inventory of snacks and talking with pilgrims.
His simple lifestyle is extreme compared to mine. I spend my day doing what humans love to do-process information. As a teacher I try to turn information into bite-sized edibles that demand some kind of action. At home it’s more information processing looking at screens filled with soccer matches and Netflix’ series. Neil Postman had it right when he said that all information has become entertainment. The allure of consuming information is in direct conflict with actually “doing”. With screen time there is no “doing”, just more information processing.
A life of screens and information processing promotes a dysfunctional individualism at the expense of common values. When I’m “doing” something creative or constructive, I can’t fall into anomie or normlessness. “Doing” demands participation and often engagement with others.
This is what Dave inspires. He provides a radical model of a life of service with limited information processing. It manifests in his energy; his embrace is an electrified calmness.
Modern life has become a walk between opposing truths of Doing vs Info Processing. We can’t really ignore either and still function in society. Dave walks at the extreme end of Doing and provides a mirror that makes everyone reflect on the lives we live.
*You can also think of the two ends of the spectrum as Physical vs Mental or Carbon vs Silicon or Real vs Virtual.