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Writer Without a Clause: Paleo Living

What does it mean to live a meaningful life? In this article, I look to our ancient ancestors as an example of what it means to live fully.

Writer Without a Clause


Writer Without a Clause

Writer Without a Clause is me, approaching my laptop, with nothing particular on my mind. Then I begin typing. That's it. Nothing more. I hope you enjoy this little essay.

Living Moment by Moment, Day by Day

The Paleo Diet took recreational dieters by storm when it resurfaced in recent history after being dormant for about ten thousand years. Proponents believe that the experience of our Stone Age ancestors can teach us a thing or two about healthy eating. I’m not for or against this particular food fad although I tend to believe if we simply eat less of whatever it is we eat, we will find a healthy balance.

But I’m not really writing about dieting. In fact, that is the furthest thing from my mind as I type and munch on my potato wedges that just came out of my new Audew Air Fryer...Watch for the review. I want to talk about what it means to live. I want to wax philosophical and consider what it means to live moment by moment, day by day.


Indigenous People of Papua New Guinea

What does that have to do with our Paleolithic brethren and sistren? Consider how they must have lived regarding food. I spent three months in the wilds of Papua New Guinea in the summer of 1983. I was probably in as remote a place on the planet that one can be from modern technology. It is my opinion that the way these Papuans came upon their food was likely close to how the latest Paleolithic people lived.

So what did I observe In Papua New Guinea? I saw groups of men go out one day from the village. Each man carried a bow and arrows. Hours later, they returned with many small animals, plus an enormous wild pig.

They wasted no time preparing the fire. I don’t remember how long they cooked the pig, but the time finally came to consume it. The entire tribe ate and ate and ate.

Interestingly, I and my friend of European descent got nothing. How rude, you might say. We were guests in the village, yet they gave us no meat. Why would they do such a thing? Here is why. We didn’t need it. They did. We all knew it, and they ate the whole pig in one meal. They stuffed themselves. Again someone might say, why? Why didn’t they save some for another day? I think we all know the answer to that question. They had no way to preserve it. The diet of these people consisted mainly of carbohydrates from sweet potatoes and the sago palm.

That’s how many of the Paleolithic people ate. Lot’s of meat one day, and no meat for a long, long time. At least some of them loaded up on carbs because that was what was available...just like the Papuans.

Wild Pig

Daily Life of the Paleolithic People

What was life like for those Stone Age people? Let’s comprise a list of activities that made up what they must have called life.

  1. Gathering food. It was a never ending task. Grains, nuts, roots, fruit, vegetables, and meat.
  2. Preparing food to store or eat.
  3. Eating.
  4. Making clothing.
  5. Making/repairing dwellings.
  6. Defending themselves against wild beasts.
  7. Defending themselves against other people.
  8. Sleeping.

The Epitome of Living According to Modern Western Man

Now let’s make a list of what we consider to be the elements of a happy life today.

  1. Taking a vacation from work.
  2. Relaxing in the evening and watching television.
  3. Reaching the weekend and resting after working all week.

That’s it. Everything else enables us to do those three things. We look for quicker and easier ways to do everything so that we have more time to—to what? Live? Do you see the disconnect between the paleo list above and the list for modern western man? For our ancestors, doing the things that sustained physical life was what life was all about. We attempt to either eliminate or reduce the time requirements of such tasks so that we can Live.

What do we do on vacation? What do we do in the evening after dinner? What do we do on the weekend? All too often, these “activities” include a couch and a television. Everything else serves these ends which we consider to be the epitome of living.


Living Differently; Living Fully

We try to eliminate or reduce the time requirements of those annoying things like acquiring food, preparing food, storing food, getting clothing, building or fixing our homes. These often involve gaining the assistance of other people to do these things. We order meals off GrubHub. We find clothing on Amazon. We hire others to build or repair our dwellings. We do this so we have time to Live, which we have already seen, often means, lying on the couch.

What is the alternative? There is a way of living life that is at the same time, simpler and much more exciting. Here is another list. This one suggests a few ways we can live differently.

  1. Grow at least some of your own food. This can be done with little or no land. Google it. You can do it.
  2. Preserve/store food for future use.
  3. Have fun and satisfaction preparing food you grow yourself.
  4. Learn to make/repair clothing. Reuse clothing by shopping at thrift stores.
  5. Build your own house. Build a tiny house. Build a big house, but learn to do it yourself.
  6. Learn to do the repairs around your house and on your vehicles.

Back to the paleo people. Did they go camping on the weekends? No, they were camping every day of their lives. Did they go hunting for deer in the fall? No, hunting was part of daily life. Did they get their vegetables from the grocery store? No, they foraged constantly. Did they hire a realtor to get them their dream house? No, they built their own dream house.

My Son´s Back Yard (He´s buying the place from me)

Reengaging With the Past

The lifestyle of Paleolithic man has more to offer us than a somewhat misguided (In my opinion) food fad. The desire for a meaningful life has been reinforced in us for tens of thousands of years. The elements of a meaningful life have also been permanently stored in our brains. When we reengage with these primal, instinctive, and essential parts of our psyche, we will experience a meaningful life.

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