Sometimes You Need a Helping Hand

two-hands-imageOne of my primary goals through everything I do in this website is to create a Tribal Community for nomads on the road.  I’ve never thought it was enough to inspire people to try the nomadic life or just to teach them how to do it, because without a support system in place the odds of them succeeding drastically go down. I know from first hand experience just how difficult and lonely those first few days, weeks and months on the road can be. I’m pretty sure I would not have endured the initial difficulties if I had the option to go back to a “normal” life! I was lucky, my bridges were burned and there was no going back so I stuck it out until I fell in love with the nomadic life.

My understanding of Tribalism is that generosity of spirit was by far the highest and greatest value, and selfishness and individuality was the greatest social taboo. If anyone in the community was hungry, the whole tribe shared with him. If one person lacked, they all lacked, no one accumulated wealth or excess for themselves because that would have been the greatest “sin” (although the concept of sin didn’t exist until much later when civilized men invented organized religion).

Being nomads, they had a very different way of thinking about possessions; to them, owning more things was a giant burden when it came time to travel and so the tribe simply threw their “stuff” away and made new when they arrived at the destination. After all, the earth provided abundantly.

In Tribalism, they treasured and loved people and scorned things–the exact opposite of modern life. What would our life be like if we adopted that attitude? I think much, much` better!! They were the  ultimate “all for one, one for all” way of living.

Just recently I’ve been confronted with the question, “If that is the natural way of a tribe how can our growing tribe of Nomads implement that?” Unlike the Tribes of old times, we don’t physically spend much time together. Fortunately, many of us gather together in the winter in the Arizona desert–and there you will find the Tribal spirit of generosity in abundance! Every year we put out a give-away pile where we give away things we no longer want or need. Every day we ask if there are any needs and put people with needs together with others who can help them. It’s truly remarkable to watch!

Unfortunately only a tiny percentage of the Tribe gets to come to those gatherings. There is a much larger number of us who are on the east coast or even on the west coast who don’t travel and can’t ever join us at our winter gatherings. Even though I’ve never met them, they are just as much a part of the Tribe, so, how can we include them in the inherent generosity of the tribe?

On my blog, forum and Youtube channel, every so often a person will join and want to promote their Gofundme campaign at To be perfectly honest, I’ve had no idea what to do about that. On one hand I feel really bad about refusing to at least allow someone in need to advertise their need on my websites, but I am equally aware that if I allow just anyone to post their needs, I’ll be flooded with requests from hundreds or thousands of people wanting my help. The simple fact is I can’t turn the websites into a charity or it will drown out the important work I feel called to do:

Reaching everyone who needs to hear my message of an alternative, simple, nomadic life of Freedom is my highest priority and I don’t want to water it down.

And yet I equally need to actually live the Tribal Nomadic life by including generosity as a major part of it. How do I find the balance?

Frankly, I took the easy, cowards way out and did nothing about it at all, I just hoped the conundrum would go away and leave me alone. But a situation has come up in my life that has forced me to confront the problem and reach a decision. It’s kind of sad that it took a crisis to force me into it, but there you go, that’s just the way of human nature–or at least my human nature.


A very good friend of mine, James, has recently had a “perfect storm” of circumstances that left him no choice but to begin a go-fund-me campaign to cover some major expenses.  Being someone I love like a brother and a long-time and beloved Tribe member (since 2012), he is the perfect person for me to do a post about him and ask you to support his go-fund-me campaign. But how can I let him do it, and not every member of the tribe?

Choosing my favorites to help is the exact opposite of the Tribal Spirit of  “all for one, one for all”. 

One of the things I’ve felt since I started this a long time ago is that if the Universe brings a person into my life, then I was responsible toward them. It was my obligation to do all I reasonably could to help them.

I believe this attitude is the answer to my question. If the Universe brings you into our tribe, then I need to help you. But, the Universe needs to bring you into my life, not you. In other words if you are already a member of the tribe  and a part of my life, then I’ll help you, but if you come to me for no other reason than to take advantage of me and use me, then I won’t. With that attitude, you aren’t really a member of the Tribe.

I’ve equally felt a strong need to balance my attention between self-care and caring for others, so I’ve also adapted the attitude that the Universe gave me two hands, one hand was to take care of myself and the other was to reach out to others. The two hands must always remain in a basic balance or my life would suffer for it. Worse, if I don’t take care of myself, I will be of no use to others, and if I don’t take care of others, I will be no good to myself either.

In my first 40 years I tried living a self-absorbed life and it was an utter failure, I must never allow myself to fall back into that again. But neither can I neglect myself, I must find a balance of being others-centered and equally caring for myself.

While I do not for one second believe in a “judging, vengeful god” I do believe that at the end of my life I will judge it. On my death bed, I want to look back at my life and smile with deep joy, not weep for a wasted, un-lived life. A life lived for me, will be the worst kind of failure. How many people will weep when I die?

So, here it is, my guidelines for go-fund-me-campaigns:

  1. If you are a member of the tribe and I know of you, then you can contact me and we will work together to help you in times of need. But if I’ve never heard of you, and no one else in the tribe has either, I probably won’t. I hate being put in the position of judge and jury but I don’t know what else to do. There is too much need in the world for me to help everyone, I must discriminate. Limiting it to active members of our tribe seems like a reasonable solution.
  2. Your situation must be fairly dire. There should also be a reason you can’t handle it yourself and a time crunch that limits you.
  3. As of now I will only do one go-fund-me-campaign per month, unless an emergency comes up. I have to limit it, or it can come to dominate the website.

About my friend, with a marriage coming to an unexpected end, blown motor and a broken shoulder, James’ only option was to ask for the help of friends and fellow tribe members so he set up a Go Fund Me Campaign to make it easy to send him money for a new motor. I know most of you will respond with an open heart but a few will think “Well, he’s just getting what he deserves, let him stew in it.” or “I’ve never needed charity, go get a job and take care of yourself!

That’s our old, civilized way of thinking which has proven to be a total failure! It’s led to world where a billion people are starving to death while we throw enough food away every day to feed many of them. Or a world where 1% own 99% of the wealth while the rest of us starve or struggle to live paycheck to paycheck. Or a wealthy country like America where 49 million people struggle every day to have enough food to eat. “Well, it’s their own fault, they should just go get a job!” 

No, it’s time for a different way of thinking, “all for one, one for all“. That’s the kind of thinking I’m trying to instill in our nomadic tribe.

I had planned on posting his gofundme campaign here and asking that we each consider giving a small amount. If many people give $1 to $5 dollars, and a few give more, then the problem can easily be solved without a sacrifice on anyone’s part.

However, he made a video of his situation, posted it to our Youtube channel and he got all the money he needed in just a few hours! That’s the power, and majesty of a tribe! When the chips are down and any member suffers, the human heart inherently wants to reach out in love and grace to care for the other. It’s our political and religious teaching that keep us from doing it.

The horribly sad thing is that the religious, political and economic philosophy of this country–which is based on the Puritan Ethic of “If you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat.”–despises an attitude of generosity and compassion and more often than not we have to overcome it do do a simple act of kindness.

There should be no difficulty in deciding if I will act in love toward others, but in this country it is a controversial decision that will make me many enemies and attract many users.  But I have no choice, I must be true to my conscience, as expressed by some of the great Masters like the Dalai Lama, St Francis of Assisi and Jesus:



I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:

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I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

74 comments on “Sometimes You Need a Helping Hand
  1. Marshall says:

    Great post, Bob.

    Your post pretty much sums up our attitude and our willingness to help those in need.

    We do not do it for a show or otherwise. We need no extra love from the Lord. In fact, we prefer He not even see us do it. We do it because it’s the right thing to do for a fellow soul.

    We are in Colorado right now and the number of panhandlers is outrageous. We help when we can, but we need to live also.

    So many people we have met lately with RV issues have told us they came out to be RV YouTube stars. Unfortunately, they have yet to even understand the life. Now they look like homeless people with broken down rigs. We give them advice and a cup of coffee and a buck or two before moving on.

    God Bless the generous citizens of the USA!

    God bless you also Bob. Your work is a tremendous help! Thank you dearly.

  2. Jello says:

    I’m really glad James got his funding. I kicked some in despite not managing to get a van yet, or hitting the road. Mostly because people have helped me, and I want to pay that forward.

    I also really appreciate that you have set boundaries on the funding requests. I’m a part of a community that has a lot of Gofundme requests. It’s devisive, and overwhelming. However with my communities poverty and lack of medical access it’s understandable.

    Thanks so much for curating all of these resources.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you so much Jello. It is a tricky mine field to negotiate. At once being both loving but also wise to those who would take advantage or being overwhelmed by the huge number of needs.

      But the one sure wrong is to close our eyes and hope it just goes away. It won’t, we MUST care for each other.

  3. Calvin R says:

    Bob, thank you for posting this. I suspect too many people take to the road without understanding its ethic. Karma is intensified on the road. The notions of giving without expectations and receiving without fear are new to many, and they need to live by them.

    I became aware of James’ situation via a Facebook friend, and when I got to the campaign it was already over the goal. Way to go,tribe!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Calvin, we were blown away by it as well!! There are so many wonderful people in this world, and yet the media has somehow convinced us it is full of monsters. It’s such a lie!! Sure, there are monsters, but there are so many more great people they are almost nothing. If we would all just come out of the prisons of our fear and houses and actually live, what a world it would be.

  4. Queen says:

    Bob, that was beautiful. You’ve shown over and over that we can go about this thing called life, differently, we don’t have to be hard and fierce, we can be compassionate and loving and try to take care of one another.


  5. There’s an important lesson in James’s situation. He has been a giving person. He has a history of helping others in the tribe. So when word of his problems got out, people were lined up to help.
    Al Christensen recently posted…Another day, another lakeMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, you are so right! Call it anything you want, but what you give out in life really does come back around. If you are truly a loving, giving person, it’s probably going to come back around to you. Of course shit still happens, but good things come with it.

  6. margo says:

    the thing i like the most about you bob,is the fact that you truly think things out. you can give the why and how of what you talk about. i feel that you have arrived at the right answer for this concern. i am lucky that i always have my birth family at my back but its so important to me that my traveling family (even tho i’ve not met them in person) are there for me to support and be supported by, be it emotionally or ln dire need in other ways. thank you!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you Margo. I think most of us know intuitively the right thing to do but can’t say why for sure. Writing this blog forces me to think it through and say it logically so others can understand my thinking.

      Besides, I’m a compulsive over-thinker!

  7. Linda Sand says:

    “our Youtube channel ” Please, tell me how to find this channel? I know very little about YouTube and nothing about channels there.

  8. Mike says:

    Ataboy Bob,

    You have approached a sensitive issue well. A wonderful compassionate position which should be inherent within the tribe, but is constantly forced into forgottenness by the power of the buck. Way to turn on the light, bring the truth to the forefront, where it belongs… pretty rare. ..Hang in there Kendal, nomads, like warriors got alot of love so they catch alot of shit, and get thrown alot of crappy pitches, keep swinging, even with one arm.

    Regards, Mike.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Mike, thanks for your kind words. It is a tough issue and there is no one true answer. It seems like if I am going to err, I want to err on the side of compassion. That’s what I need in my life, so I need to be willing to give it away as well.

  9. Karen says:

    People too often blame the individual needing our support and understanding. We would like to thing that we will always be self-sufficient but this is probably not the case. But compassion is something we will all need at some point in our lives. I believe it important for all of us to model compassion. Thank you for sharing your compassionate heart.

  10. Tina says:

    Hi Bob,

    Really good post, and sometimes things are not always black and white. There have been some that have taken advantage of others with these Go Fund Me’s or milking the drama for money. However when I saw this from James, based on his history of helping others I didn’t think it was to take from others at all. He is in a bad place and now needs the tribe to help. I’m glad to hear he reached his goal so quickly. Here is to hoping his van will be fixed soon so he can start to heal his body and heart.


  11. William Addison says:

    A truly inspired post. At 68 years old I have experienced giving to those in need and I have been in need and have receiving There is a blessing in both sides of those acts. I was amazed at the rapidness of the go fund me event. It’s wonderful to see that love and kindness are still rampant in the world.

  12. Elaine Patton says:

    Bob, you are truly an inspiration and a good and generous person. Watching your videos and reading your blogs are so inspiring and tremendously helpful…..I just can’t thank you enough for all you do. We all need help at onetime or another and it is great to know that there is such awesome support in this tribal community. Reminds me a little of the biker community….awesome people!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Elain, that is a very good point, outcasts tend to cling together in a much deeper way, connecting at the heart. I think that is part of what goes on with us.

  13. Rob says:

    Bob, you did well with a difficult subject (in general).

    A friend or member of my community/tribe needs help & I’m in a position to give it I will.

    I have been on the receiving end of almost strangers saving my life with a hug, or a touch, or a kind word and (maybe) a few dollars.
    It makes a difference.

    Good post Bob. .

    • Bob Bob says:

      Rob, you are so right! Ultimately, we are all just looking for love and compassion in our lives. It’s so sad that in our society it is the least valued thing.

  14. Cae says:

    Great to hear. I have been fortunate enough to be able to keep an emergency fund of twice what my rig costs as a back-up. So if it blows, I’ll just buy another. But my rig was only a couple grand. I think Jamie has an AWD Astro, and those are hard to come by.

    There are mostly really nice people out there and this especially true of the vehicularly housed tribe.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Cae, there are so many great people in the world! And yet the media has convinced us that there are monsters lurking around every corner. That is such a lie! For very monster, there are a hundred saints.

  15. Wendy says:

    I was so glad to see James hit his goal. Although we did not get a chance to meet them at the RTR they have helped inspire us through their videos with you and their blog. We were glad to help in what small way we could, especially after all the help and inspiration we have received from strangers since embarking on this crazy path 🙂 . You are in a tricky spot and have handled it well. We hope to see you all at some point this summer!

  16. CindyT says:

    Great post, Bob. You dealt with a difficult situation in a compassionate way.

  17. David Ainley says:

    Bob, thank you for being you and for all you do.

  18. phillip thesing says:

    Bob: you are truly an inspiration to me. I hope I will be able to come to and meet you at the RTR next January.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Phillip, it will be my pleasure! However, I should warn you that in person I am very under-whelming, very ordinary. I don’t know what happens when I sit down at the keyboard, but I don’t get the credit.

  19. Roxy says:

    Thanks for this Bob, you sure have a way of explaining things well. I was very concerned for James and I’m glad he got the help he needs, having an engine blow up, and not having the funds to fix it is surely the one thing we all dread most (along with having our vehicle stolen or wrecked).
    One of the thing’s I’ve learned while living this life is that those of us who struggle financially, or in any other way, are usually the most compassionate and generous. Members of this tribe will share their last piece of bread to help someone who is in need, we have all been there, and we don’t forget it. I think the boundaries you have set on fund-raising are very realistic and well balanced. A well written post indeed. Thank you.
    Roxy recently posted…An Attempt to Live a ‘Normal’ Life ~ The Short VersionMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Roxy, that is such a good point, when you live life on the edge, your heart reaches out to those on the edge with you–and they are slipping! It takes a tribe to live this life! I’m very glad you are part of it!

  20. Susan says:

    Hi Bob,

    I am very new to your blog and have enjoyed your focus on being present — to the extent of you changing travel plans to meet your heart’s desire. How I giggled when you announced your plans were written in jello! Now I find you have written a poignant note that addresses a key unlocking the heart and enabling a spirit to soar — compassion for others and communal generosity. I am moved to comment on your blog post and look forward to someday in the near future physically joining the tribe. I am just waking up to the alternative lifestyle and am putting my “house on wheels” together. This is the easy part, extricating myself from my job and getting finances in order will take a little longer. All in good time and what a vision to hold: personal freedom in a world of consumerism and a tribal family to boot. Hooray! Hooray! You’ve made my day 🙂

  21. Bob, you are very pragmatic while holding a holistic and compassionate vision. I am sorry to read about James, I have been following their journey for many months and have enjoyed the videos on Enigmatic Nomadics a lot. May only good things follow James from now on. Thanks for being an awesome “grand pappy” for we dreamers.
    Ruthie Rocchio recently posted…Holy HopeMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Ruthie, I’ve been called a lot of things, but “grand pappy” is a new one! I’ll have to give that some thought!

  22. BeckyIO says:

    Fantastic post. Everyone’s afraid to talk about this issue, even me. Good for you Bob for thinking critically about it and providing an open, honest answer.
    BeckyIO recently posted…California DeltaMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Becky, it is a tough issue! There are people who are trying to scam us, and there are people who appear like they don’t deserve our help, perhaps they don’t.

      BUT!!!! The risk of being cheated every so often is totally inconsequential compared to the risk of developing a hard heart that simply doesn’t want to be bothered to serve others in love and compassion. That is tragedy we must avoid. And I’m afraid for most of us it’s already too late, we can very easily turn off our heart at the sight of suffering.

      A life that doesn’t weep for those who are suffering, is not a good life.

      • Calvin R says:

        I can’t make a good guess about how many people have hardened their hearts, but my experience tells me compassion is not dead or close. Despite my difficulties asking for help (even now), people have helped me through my tough times and bad decisions enough times to convince me that a basic decency is part of our DNA. On occasion, I have been able to help others, and that is its own reward. A few people have tried to misuse me, but my instinct advises me of that. Now that I have relative mental health, avoiding ripoffs is pretty easy.

  23. Becky says:

    Thought I would reply right after Becky:).

    On the forum today we were.talking about how someone didn’t like to accept help and someone else said “please don’t deprive us of the fun of helping” I thought this was.awesome!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Becky, that is very, very wise!! Humans were made to reach out to each other in compassion, we literally need it. I think the reason we love our pets so much is because they will gladly allow us to love and serve them. We should all learn that from them!

  24. Kat says:

    Bob, your post was so well written. Years ago I helped someone over the internet. I knew it might be a lie but I have chosen to believe the person truly needed the help, and what little I gave certainly didn’t take food out of my kids mouths. James has done a lot of nice things for all of us and never asked us for anything. He just hit a really difficult spot in his life and I am glad you made the decision to help him. Thank you both for being so giving of info and making me believe I can do van living on my own. I hope to be out there within a year and it’s due to people like the both of you.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kat, we should give what we can but we all have to set our limits. Like you, I’d rather risk being cheated (rarely) than really turning down a deserving person.

  25. Canine says:

    One year I had made a lot of money and was able to do much more donating than I ever had. I had donated a few thousand dollars to various places. But at some point I had to make a decision not to put a hardship on my finances and drew a line: no more donations for the year.

    At a grocery store a lady asked me if I wanted to donate some money to a charity. The amount asked for was a dollar or something, but if I had said yes to everyone that asked for a dollar, it would have been a significant sum, so I declined. She asked again. I told her I had already donated a few thousand this year and don’t have any more to give. She asked again. I said no and didn’t feel bad about it.

    If I had given every penny I had and everything I own, there are still some people who would want more. I do my part and don’t feel bad when I say no. I’m sure a few think less of me for not donating a measly dollar, but I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t do explanations anymore, either. I polite “No thanks” and I’m off.

  26. lambchopxoxo says:

    I’m so glad that you made this decision so we all have the opportunity to help James out. I know he has met his goal at this point, but I plan to donate just a little more so hopefully he doesnt have to worry about money till he heals up.

  27. James Dimon says:

    Hey Bob, James here. Just reading your very moving post and want to thank you publicly for taking me into town for supplies and establishing myself with Arizona credentials. I never feel rushed, even when I want to grab a shower at the church. I’ve always considered myself able to take on any challenge that this lifestyle has thrown my way and have learned a important lesson about how fragile the balance we live in, truly is. My motor in the van was running great with low miles and I workout almost every day. Never would have expected this odd set of circumstances to line up the way it did. Hats off to You, Beth, Glenda, Jonny and Jenn, Dave from New Hampshire, Matt, Jay and Margie for doing the things I currently can’t, around camp for me. I want to also thank everyone who contributed to the GFM and the words of encouragement! Just amazing! Can’t wait to get wheels moving again and heal up. See you guys in Flagstaff soon for the summer RTR! Thank you!!

    • Bob Bob says:

      James, you have given so much of yourself to so many tribe members, that what goes around comes around and now it’s our turn to care for you!

  28. ILDan says:

    I like your idea & will certainly contribute to a “tribe fund.”

  29. Gms says:

    “It’s so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind”

    I had no idea you were a fan of The Smiths! :p

  30. jim says:

    Sorry to hear about all Mr James trouble I don’t know him personally but the one thing I can say about him I’ve seen his YouTube video about all his trouble and seen what he wrote on here thinking everyone is he never look like he lost his good sprit he must be truly one of a kind most people would have went off the deep end by now with all that happened to him all at once I wish you Mr James the best of luck from here on out and think you and Mr Bob for all your time making the videos for some of us we live our dreams through you all

  31. Belinda2 says:

    Do you ever think there will be an EAST Coast RTR? I would love to come.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Belinda, I can’t seem to find a place that meets the criteria. It has to be free, big enough for 100 people, have good internet, have to have shopping, water and trash nearby. Can’t have miserable weather.

      If you find that place, let know!

  32. Jimmie W. Crawford says:

    This was a very moving conversation and gave me much to reflect on in my own life. Thank you to all.

  33. Cindy in OR says:

    I’m a lurking wannabe and have been following your blog for a year (maybe two?). In addition to admiring your lifestyle and lovely photos, I appreciate the information you share with all of us. I had to comment, what a great (and timely) post!

  34. Alla says:

    I said it once and I will say it again. I posted in forums about a year ago that I had all necessary components for house power except for an inverter and I asked for some electrical advice. Another Tribe Member sent me a PM offering a spare inverter. He then sent it to me in the mail! I have a fully functioning house electrical system now. The tribe reigns!

    I am currently camping at my summer spot on the beach in my tent, with my very old pickup truck while Joan, my Big-Ass van is in use by a family (Grandma, Daughter, Grandson) in need of shelter and transportation for a few weeks. A lot of people say I’m crazy for letting someone else take my home away and use it and maybe I am. I know this: I have insurance on the vehicle. I am able bodied and of age. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to help. And finally a child was homeless.

    It all comes around. I am so grateful for this life and for the community and for BOB who made a Lemonade Tree from his divorce.

    Thank you for sharing stories of human redemption.
    ~Wild Trappist

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you for your very kind Comment Alla! The bottom line to me is that a life lived for just myself is a life that I would not want to have. Joy and happiness always come for two and can’t be grasped by one.

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