Adam Greenman, originally from England, had been inspired by the idea of ‘going walkabout’ since he was a child, and has since spent years practicing the art. In Brazil, he roamed for 6 months and finally built a treehouse to stay in. He went to India to buy a fishing boat to live on, before wandering Eastern Europe with absolutely nothing.
“It was the ultimate Into the Wild-cum-Forest Gump experience,” Greenman explains.
“Having gone so far off the grid, for so long, I was sure I could virtually disappear from the rat-race, disconnect from banks and eventually exist with not a single possession in the world,” the nomad told us, who successfully lived his vision.
In total, he wandered and worked his way around the world for a decade, while writing about his often wild and epic adventures. A. Greenman, as he is known, tells us about his wanderings and recent success as a writer.
The traveller originally left his home in England and headed for far and distant shores a dozen years ago, in 2000, when like many of us, he wanted less stress and more time. To have this, he realised that he would need to do without many of the things which were costing him so much money in life. Seeing that this would be easier to do in warmer climates, he decided to travel abroad, while learning how to provide for many of his own basic human needs self-sufficiently. Building shelter, foraging, finding water, warmth and of course good health.
“Sometimes a gap year is just not enough,” says the adventurer, who took a gap year, but after a decade of journeying found that he had actually taken a gap life. He went on to explore France, Portugal and Spain for a few years, living in barns, old ruins and house sitting, and went to India to buy his fishing boat to live on, before getting caught up in the 2004 tsunami. Working his grief out, he wandered New Zealand for nearly half a year. Arriving with just a shoulder satchel with a change of clothes in it, hoping to be inspired by the epic greenland of forests and mountains.
“I left New Zealand fully charged and dowsed out on a map the next place I could go to. That turned out to be Wales, in the United Kingdom, where I stayed in an old minor’s cottage, turning my hand to woodcrafts, and living close to the land,” A. Greenman explains, leading up to the extraordinary escape from the rat-race which followed.
It was in early 2007 that the wanderer fulfilled his dream, and renounced all of his possessions, and travelled nomadically on a modern day walkabout – without even a bag, set destination or return date. So certain he would find his way, he left his then remote home in Wales, and all he owned, with nothing but the clothes he stood in, never to return to it.
“I had some cash in my pocket and a passport, but no bank account or back up plan” the nomad says, who quite literally walked out of the world he knew, and owned absolutely nothing.
Travelling by intuition and the will of the gods alone, Greenman was driven by an inner calling, moving wherever he felt led. He volunteered at an orphanage in Latvia, passed through Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey and many more countries, before settling in Hungary for eight months, where he taught Conversational English and volunteered on organic farms.
“I had often helped out at communities and farms throughout the world, its a good way to learn new skills, in exchange for accommodation and food,” explains the author, who returning to wander England in 2008, went on to write a simple book about the organisation he was often involved with: ‘W.W.O.O.F’ (World Wide Opportunities/Willing Workers on Organic Farms), called: ‘The Practical Guide to Wwoofing’, and received praise from the founder of the movement. This later encouraged Greenman to go on and write more about his raw decade in full.
“My journeys continued, roaming Sicily and remote Greek islands, for months on end. I worked where I could, doing building work, or writing, saving money for a flight, train, or boat to wherever I wanted to go to next. I just love roaming in nature, the peace, and stillness,” explains the nomad, who from time to time has just slept in the wild – often in a tent, sometimes even in a cave.
“It was useful being able to not only learn new skills whilst I travelled, but also apply the ones I already had. Before I left England, I made sculptures and furniture from driftwood and other old timber I sourced, and was often able to employ similar resourcefulness to build my own shelter during my adventures, or for other people for money,” the perpetual wanderer explains.
“I did not really believe in the phrase wise men use:
‘You do not have to go anywhere to find yourself,’ it is sometimes better that you are sitting under a palm tree in the sun, watching the brilliance of the sea lapping the shore, than you being in a grey, gloomy wet and cold place, when you meet yourself,” Greenman says.
“I often made notes about my journeys, and sometimes published them. My first books were limited edition hardbacks, made by hand in 2005, produced on a typewriter and bound in cloth covers and brown paper dustsheets. The Nomad Tales, as it was called, is incorporated into my new book: I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World, which also covers the next 5 years of my journeys,” says A. Greenman, who in the last few years has written up all of his escapades in full, working 7 days a week to do so.
“Recording all of my often wild and extreme tales has replaced travelling…it seemed that the greatest adventure was dealing with not having one. As I tried to walk back into the world in the last couple of years, I discovered that I had gone so far, for so long, that I no longer knew how to live in it,” Greenman admits honestly.
“When I began writing I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World, I noticed that I had a real problem with information and that this may well have been one of the reasons why I often sought to travel into the wild, as I seemed to be able to cope with the simplicity I met there far more easily,” the writer tells us.
Greenman realised that he struggled to understand not only the written and spoken word, but also sequences and surroundings, and last year found that one of his challenges is that he is Dyslexic.
“I have a better understanding now of the confusion I often feel, it is a common misconception that people who are dyslexic just spell words in a muddled fashion. Hearing and saying words can also be difficult, but also just dealing with very simple sequences, which for example a young child may manage with ease. To be fair, the disorientating state I experience was probably made worse by heavy blows to the head I received as a teenager, during repeated bullying incidents and serious bicycle accidents I had,” the author openly reveals.
“I frequently feel ‘punch drunk’, which made the task of getting a book completed and into the shops a rather epic one in itself. However, the feeling can be a gift, as creative writing may then take on a distinctive voice of its own. I have worked for thousands of hours on my books, unleashing a torrent of word-block, once I decided to face the problems I had with living in the world, instead of escaping them on extreme and wild journeys,” he continues.
“Each page of this new book has been reworked hundreds of times…the satisfaction in seeing it go out into the world now for retail is as exhilarating as any one of the dozens of adventures I have had over the last decade or so,” A. Greenman says, who understands only too well that over night success stories are often preceded with many years of hard work, unbelievable dedication and periods of intense loneliness, as is the case with his own story, while he has battled on to get the job done.
At parties, when asked, “What do you do,” his standard answer has been, “I Travel.”
That is about to change though, as there is growing interest around the world in the author’s work. Unusually, the adventurer writes about his journeys in a narrative non-fiction style which reads like a novel, proudly carrying the remark on the front cover:
This book is not based on a true story – it is a true story!
“From early on, I was sure that my work should not predominantly appear in 1st person, with photos of where I have been and what I have done. Besides, many of my escapades seem almost too good to be true, so it is only fitting that my tale is in 3rd person,” as an exert from his book, about the time he set off on walkabout, in 2007 demonstrates:
“..He clicks the front door shut, walks to the end of the driveway and stands for a moment. Just another ordinary day, no backpack, just a walking stick and a secret in his soul, one he thinks about for a moment.
Go left and you head north, at the end of England you will reach Scotland, and when that ends you will go on to the sea and perhaps Scandinavia. Go right and you go south, at the bottom of England you may cross to France and onto the rest of Europe, perhaps even warmer climates. Yet you will never be far from an airport, from those, the world is your oyster.
He turns right, and slowly takes a few strides down the quiet valley road…thinking.
By stripping one’s life down to nothing, it may be easier to not only know what one may need to live, but also learn to appreciate our basic human needs more, particularly with regard to the experience of acquiring them, or not, as the case may be.”
As an independently published author, the adventurer sought the opinion of other writers once he had finished his book, and gave the manuscript to a well known author in his field, who has sold more than a million books.
“I realised the genre was different, but guessed that if anyone should know what is good for you, then Dr. Longmore would, who is author of the Oxford Handbook to Clinical Medicine.
“When I had something important to do, I found myself reading this book instead, it is brilliant!” he remarked.
“Even the proof readers were getting excited about the book,” Greenman says, who then looked for another impartial review. It would come from Nick Young - Artistic Director of the acclaimed Rainbow Theatre, Shakespearean performers in the south of England, where A. Greenman is now based once again.
Young described it as, “A unique book that makes you part of the author’s extraordinary adventures and philosophy.”
However, this is no one book wonder for A. Greenman, who will be following I Travel Light with a book about his pre-roaming days, as the question begs, ‘What leads a man to become a professional traveller?’ It will simply be called Before I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World, and is set for release late summer this year.
Many people dream of writing a book, but this modern day nomad has done it, going from perpetual wanderer to prolific writer. A. Greenman has written more than a dozen titles in the last 2 years, producing ‘bookettes’ about each country he has been to. Collectively they form this latest work, I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World, about his often wild and mysterious escapades.
“I was somewhat overwhelmed when the manager of a massive high street bookstore in the UK, ‘Waterstones’, showed me where my book may go, on the same travel shelf as Bill Bryson and Michael Palin’s,” the wanderer recalls.
From strength to strength, when Greenman had finished writing his novel style book, against all of the odds, he went on to learn how to make e-books for Kindle and iBookstore. The days of the adventurer’s wanderings are few are far between now, as he completes a full circle and now settles back into making furniture and sculptures, in the English countryside, in between the occasional book signing.
Published by Greenman’s Books in association with Lulu Press, I Travel Light – The Man Who Walked Out of the World is available on Amazon.com in both print & digital formats and directly from Lulu.com. More information on A. Greenman’s books can be found on www.greenmansbooks.com