Feeling compelled and driven to share his knowledge about how to survive in a world where societal comforts and amenities are no longer available, Texas County resident Merlyn Seeley is doing something about it.
He has penned more than 40 books about various aspects of “off-grid” and back-to-basics living, three of which are in print.
“I write what I live and live what I write,” Seeley said. “A lot of authors do a lot of research and then write about something, but do they really live that way? Probably not. If I talk the talk, I walk the walk. That’s just how I live.”
A native of the northeast Georgia mountains, Seeley is 80-percent Cherokee and is also known as Spirit Walker – a name he goes by among close friends. He is also an ordained Zen priest and has lived in several states, moving to Texas County about seven years ago.
Seeley and his wife of 19 years, Angel, and daughter, Wind Walker, live in a cabin made of pallets and other donated materials on a tract in western part of the county. Their lifestyle is entirely off-the-grid, and they have not lived with energy of any sort since coming here.
“We’re getting to the point now where we’re gathering some solar panels and batteries, but it’s not hooked up yet,” Seeley said. “It’s just kind of an upgrade. We thought, ‘we’ve been doing it one way for seven years so let’s do something a little different.’
“But living off the grid is no big deal. Modern day life just isn’t very natural.”
Seeley began writing when he was 13, and had work published shortly after that. Since then, he has written poetry, short stories and as a journalist, and currently maintains a detailed blog online. His books cover everything from how to successfully and efficiently grow heirloom crops to building things from rudimentary materials and even making highly effective fertilizer out of human waste.
In 2005, Seeley and his wife and hiked a significant portion of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of northeast Georgia and western North Carolina. That changed everything.
“Hiking the Appalachian Trail probably had the greatest impact on me as far as how we live now,” Seeley said. “We were out there for 30 days at a time and living with nature, and I ended up deciding that’s how I wanted to live forever.”
Seeley – who is also a Cherokee medicine man – has since dedicated himself to building his knowledge about living naturally and honing his talents in natural forms of healing.
“I’ve been into using natural means of healing others for my whole life,” he said. “What I do now just kind of a progression to where I’m at now. I’ve always been an inquisitive person, and I always look deeper. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained wisdom and kept looking deeper.”
Angel said she loves the “organic” lifestyle, and credits it for helping her lose at least half of the 280 pounds she used to weigh.
“I wouldn’t change anything or do anything different,” she said. “I haven’t paid a utility bill in seven years and we’ve spent less than $1,000 on our house. I would never go back.”
The Seeleys grow several types of heirloom and organic crops on the property, and basically produce almost all of the food they eat.
“And we don’t buy meat in the store,” Seeley said. “We raise it, hunt it or barter and trade for it.”
Seeley’s newest book is titled, “Preparing for the Collapse: Food Production Basics.”
“It focuses on how you would survive and feed your family in the event of an economic crash,” he said.
Meshing his Zen side and natural living side into written material comes easy for Seeley.
“They’re two separate things for a lot of people,” he said, “but they’re really not. If you have a sick spiritual side, that’s going to affect your physical side – that’s already been proven. They go together, so I write a lot about natural ways of living, natural medicine and natural spirituality.”
With more than one book currently in the works (including one comprised of a daily journal from his Appalachian Trail trekking), Seeley intends to reach as many people as possible with his message.
“It is my mission in life to train, teach and show people that there is a better way of living than you’ve been told and shown, or that you may know of,” he said. “And it’s been done before; we’ve all just moved into this different unhealthy way of life. But we can go back to that – it’s still there.
“I don’t make a lot of money from my books, and I don’t want to make a lot of money or be rich. Why would I? I have everything I need right now. I just want people to know that if I can do it with next to nothing when it comes to money, they can do it, too. And it’s a healthier and happier way, and it will correspond with your body systems better.
“You’ll just be an overall better person.”
Merlyn Seeley’s printed books are available www.lulu.com. All of his e-books books are available online at Amazon, Borders and most other book-selling websites. Printed books can also be purchased directly from Seeley for a discounted price of $10 apiece. To arrange a purchase, or for other information, email him at email@example.com.
A column series written by Merlyn Seeley entitled “Off-Grid Living” will on Jan. 26 (2017) begin appearing on a monthly basis in the Houston Herald’s Messenger section.