Sept. 6, 2021

Interview With JW Northrup The Cabin Philosopher

Jim JW Northrup has spent much of his life studying the human mind and spirit.

His studies have always been based upon observation rather than on authorities and opinion. His youth was spent playing sports and in the outdoors – much of it with his father – wandering through the beauty of the high mountains, feeling the tranquility of the outdoors and the sense of adventure that comes therein, only to return to the dissonance and conflicts, the rules and regulations of modern civilization. And he believes because of that, he developed a rather exterior view of life.

He began writing in the mid 80’s. Back then he was literally writing as a professional calligrapher. As a result, his works adorn many a wall with a favorite saying or poem.

He then became skilled at the art of 3D modeling in the field of mechanical design for engineers – which was rather ironic as his purpose was not the technical expertise and accuracy they required, but rather, whether or not the models he created were beautiful – which is the artist in him. He got away with it because his models WERE beautiful and because he grudgingly spent the required time to add the technical details that satisfied the requirements of the anal mind of an engineer.

Knowing that his real purposes were somewhat deviant in the field of engineering, he began writing as an outlet for his creativity and his desire to communicate what he had learned in the field of the mind and the spirit and because his life would never be believed unless it was written down on paper.

Jim NorthrupProfile Photo

Jim Northrup

Welcome to a long my slightly too long BIO:
I was born in a typical middle-class life with two good parents. I did the standard duties of a kid – went to school, did the family stuff and generally enjoyed being an irresponsible kid.
Until I was 18 years old, I never wanted to do anything except to ski in the winter and spend time in the mountains hiking and fly fishing in the remote alpine basins of the High Uintas or Wind River Mountains.
School was merely something to “get through”. A job was a necessary evil for some future time (a time I was not looking forward to) when I had graduated from college and joined the “real world” (ugh).
At the time, I looked over the list of occupations (which would be something I would be doing 8 hours a day for the rest of my life) and could not find a single thing I wanted to do other than what I was doing – but not getting paid for it.
I eventually decided that “Electrical Engineering” had the most potential, so I enrolled at the University of Utah, majoring in Electrical Engineering. It actually was a great career choice at the time. Computers were in their infancy in 1978 and, had I graduated, I would certainly now have a profession that would surely give me an affluent life as a successful member of the middle or upper middle class.
Yet I felt like a fish out water – a stupid fish out of water – which was ironic because I was a fly fisherman with the purpose of getting fish out of water.
So, I purposely failed, and decided I needed to understand life better if I was going to be a willing participate in it.
I read books about the mind and the spirit and even learned how to study – intending to resume my Engineering studies.
Then I got a job at the Snowbird Ski Resort and became a classic ski bum. The job paid a little better than minimum wage and I averaged around 30 hours a week. I lived in a rented house with 4 others and that was just fine with me. Most importantly, the job gave me a ski pass. I lived at the foothills of the mountains, skied in the winter and went on hiking adventures in the summer. Heck this was much better than sitting at some dumb desk in a corporate building being a “professional”. As long as I had rent, a car and money for ski equipment, fishing gear, and running shoes I was good.
But a haunting voice in the back of my mind kept saying “When are you going to get a ‘real job’ and take your place in the ranks of the working middle class, with the house, the cars, the RV’s and the kids running around”. (ugh)
Does anybody else feel this way? Has anyone felt that the constraints of living a “normal” life ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be?
Fast forward 20 years because all I can say is that I found an alternate path – one of spiritual enlightenment and helping others. No, it wasn’t a “Mission” or the Peace Corps, but it got me looking and confronting myself and life – that’s all I can say.
Then at 35 years old – tired of being broke – I succumbed to the pressures of becoming a “normal citizen” and decided it was time to actually join the “real world” – such as it is.
Since I loved to draw but was more technically inclined, I decided I would take up Computer-aided Drafting (mechanical drawing).
I went to school, got my Associates Degree and began working as a Draftsman.
Over the next 15 years I worked my way up the ranks of this mediocre occupation and did OK – in fact, I excelled. I now had a “normal” job, with an “acceptable” income and I owned a condo and drove a sports car.
The “necessary evil” of spending 8 hours a day working at a job to buy the typical human stuff had been accomplished. You put in your 40 hours and you have another 40 of free time to ski, spend time in the mountains, and run marathons. (Yes, run marathons. I began running some years earlier and I loved it. I also pedaled a carbon fiber road bike 50 miles a day back and forth to work). Thinking this made me better than the “rat race” of zombie drivers driving to work every day.
I suppose we’re getting a theme here. I have always been totally into the challenge of physical activity. To most it is a hobby, to me it is what I look forward to every day.
I continued my studies of the mind and the spirit (which had always been interesting to me) and I fully realized that man is a spiritual being – and not a body.
So why all this attention on the body? Simple. I realized the body is a really cool thing to operate. I could compare it to my sportscar. You have fun operating it, but it ain’t you, so don’t worship it as if it is “YOU”
I loathed people who worshiped their body (thinking the body determined their spiritual condition). I rolled my eyes at the Mental Health freaks (you are your brain) and the hypochondriacs that obsessed over body details. I don’t mind maintaining my bodies health – which never seem to be much of a problem for me – but the idea that my body determined my happiness, or that I needed to do what my body “told” me to do was completely silly to me. My happiness had nothing to do with the state of a body. It’s like saying your happiness is determined by the condition of your car, or your house.
I also began writing – being a creative odd-ball – I figured I had something to say that might be interesting and even add an alternative viewpoint to those who are socked into their indoctrinated, well controlled lives. I also received fairly rave reviews of my odd adventures in my short stories.
So here I am years later. I’m 64. I still have a stupid 9-5 job to pay the bills and still would rather be in the mountains running up a trail – possibly to a high mountain lake – with a 5-piece fly rod in my hand and a reel and fly box in my fanny pack – preferably ending the day at the family cabin, on the porch, my feet up, beer in hand and a laptop in lap, writing a story or editing a novel.
And I do it for you. Whoever cares to read this, I do it for you. I communicate through these words and my only intention is that they connect to you and hopefully make you smile or go “hmm”.
And if enough of you are please by these words, I will quit that silly 9 to 5 and just spend the rest of my life giving you the words that you would like to read, new viewpoints that make you go “hmmm” and characters that make you laugh.
And that would be my pay. And I would be totally content with that.
J.W. Northrup.