I have lived most of my adult life as a fringe dweller. I wasn't really aquainted with the term or really aware that that was what I was doing until I was well into my 30's. I knew the life I was living was different than most, but my awareness of the fact that I was living on the fringes of society was something that came along gradually. At some point, I embraced it. I realized that I was most happy there. There are many reasons for choosing to live this way. In one way, it's a tool for dealing with a world that doesn't make much sense.
|SOLITUDE by Barry Howard|
When I think about Human kind, the Crown of Creation, and the potential world that could have been created, and compare that with the real world that we live in...with buildings that sit empty while people live on the street...food that gets thrown away as people go hungry...more people on the planet than it can comfortably support while people live their lives in loneliness...unimaginable technological abilities that get turned toward destroying one another and our own environment as well...then living on the fringe is a way to move through life with a sense of perspective. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Some can dive in up to their elbows and get involved in trying to fix things, unravel the madness, make it all make sense, but when I've dipped my toes into being an activist I find that it tends to make me an angry person. Whatever strength of character one needs to try to bring about change, I don't seem to have it. The best I can do is to use my energy to try to bring some beauty into the world. To spotlight the part of the world that is good and clean and inspiring. It's all I can do and still maintain my own inner peace and happiness. So I paint my paintings and build my little Nomadic dwellings and feel grateful that these things seem to make people smile.
As I look back, I lived on the fringe even as a kid. I always felt like I was watching things from the edges, not really as a participant. It's how I made it through school too. In a way, I feel like I am indeed, only a visitor on this planet. It's an interesting planet, but the inhabitants are batshit crazy for the most part. Especially the ones who seem to be in charge. Living on the fringe seems very compatible to being somewhat of a loner as well. I do like people. I like them quite a lot....but in limited doses. I spend about 90 percent of my time alone. I am not suggesting that this is necessarily good. I really kind of envy people who are outgoing and gregarious, who have tons of friends. But time alone is somehow necessary for me to feel I am in balance. When I am with people, I usually enjoy it, but it's a very outward experience. I have designed a life where most of it is lived from a very inner experience. When I am just with myself, not involved in conversation, there is a natural process that goes on in my head. I am more aware of my thoughts and I spend more time looking at the life I am living and thinking about where I want to go from here. I spend a lot of time thinking about art and how I want to evolve my work. I spend a lot of time thinking about my micro-dwellings and doing a sort of ongoing design process that I keep filed away in my head. Living so much in my head has strengthened certain parts of my brain, especially the part that thinks visually. Lots of people have asked me if they could get plans for my micro gypsy caravan and I have to tell them that , alas, there are no plans. I visualized the caravan in my head, then visualized each design detail in my head as I went along. I've always built this way. It's harder for me to draw plans first. In a few instances I've had to, in order to show them to a client, but it's something I would just as soon skip.
There are whole libraries of places in my head with drawings and plans and expanded detail drawings and they are always there, waiting for me when I need them. I don't know how many other people work this way, but I assume most people don't. People often seemed surprised when I say I don't draw any plans for my work and I think maybe I don't need to because I have spent so much of my time alone with my thoughts. I have a studio in my head...it's a very comfortable and interesting place to hang out. It's a place where I can work on my projects, examine my life, and explore things that intrigue me. When I go out and spend time with friends, (which is pretty rare,) as much as I might enjoy the interaction, there is always a part of me that is impatient to get back to my quiet inner sanctum.