I recently had an interesting conversation with a young man, originally from Snow Lake, who has spent the last five years or so travelling and experiencing life in other countries and cultures.
Jesse Morozoff, now 34, grew up in Snow Lake, one street over from us. He was a tall, lanky boy who played minor hockey and hung out on occasion with our son. He was a quiet kid, but on the ice, young Morozoff had focus, great skating ability and a slapshot that belied his years. Growing up in a small and sheltered community, there was little need to ever leave. There was work for anyone who wanted it, and a life in the outdoors was something countless people aspired to. However, like many from his age group, he finished school, packed up his belongings, and headed west, chasing the big paycheques.
Morozoff settled in Leduc, got into the pipe trade, and eventually gained his Red Seal. During his time in the west, the young man started to become aware of the world around him. He was reading a variety of articles and watching videos that pointed out what he believed was corruption within many walks of life. He now looks upon his views at the time as extreme, but it spurred an awakening in him that there was in fact a societal veneer, and what was below that surface wasn’t necessarily the same as what was being presented. It got him asking questions about his life and, more importantly, it prompted a yearning for answers. Around this time he also developed a host of allergies; a seven-month rollercoaster of testing and medication also left him disgusted with the health care system. He began to look at living “off grid.”
Morozoff became interested in the concept of Earthships. For the unacquainted, an Earthship is a brand of passive solar earth shelter that is made of both natural and upcycled materials, such as earth-packed tires and bottles. “I quit my job to go to the Earthship Academy in Taos, New Mexico,” said Morozoff. “It was a fairly new concept, but there were students from all over the world.” His idea was to come back to Canada and build one in B.C. But the trip provided him a revelation of sorts. It was the first time he’d been surrounded by people who had the same awareness about society as him. “We talked about it openly,” he said. “Whereas, if I brought it up where I worked, people would be looking at me funny. I was just researching this stuff in my free time and I wasn’t talking to anyone about it.” This changed, working with likeminded people, during his month in New Mexico.
Immediately after, Morozoff journeyed to Sedona, Arizona where he stayed for week and hiked with an old guide he’d heard about. The man knew of numerous landmarks and ruins that weren’t on maps. Each day they would hike sun up to sun down in the Red Rock Mountains. “The views were spectacular and there were no sounds, other than nature,” Morozoff said. “I feel like I hit some real moments of clarity while I was up there. When I came back to Canada, I decided that I didn’t want to continue living the way I had been.” He ended a relationship he’d been in and sold his house, admittedly scaring everyone close to him with the sudden change in the course of his life.
With the money Morozoff had after selling his house, he cleared his debt and travelled for five years, first hiking, camping and working on several Earthship builds in Western Canada, before moving on to Peru. The draw to the southern hemisphere was hatched listening to Joe Rogan podcasts. During a guided tour he spent a week exploring sites such as Machu Picchu and a week in the jungle also exploring, but taking part in ayahuasca, kambo, DMT, and San Pedro ceremonies under the guidance of a shaman. Ayahuasca is a psychoactive traditional spiritual medicine, brewed from an Amazonian vine. Kambo is a medicine from the Amazonian giant monkey frog. It is used in different native tribes to cleanse the body and spirit. DMT is a psychedelic drug that has historically been prepared by various cultures for ritual purposes and spiritual experience. San Pedro is columnar cactus with hallucinogenic properties.
Morozoff noted that the ceremonies can help people break out of repetitive patterns of thinking and gives the participant a few hours of contrasting insight. “Sometimes you see things that you never thought of, and it sticks with you,” he said. “You don’t have major revelations every time, but there is the potential, because you think of things differently.”
Asked if he is a freethinker, Morozoff explains that he now tries to have an open opinion about everything. “One of the biggest differences about how I was before and how I think now is that my ego was once tied strongly to whatever I believed or thought, and if someone disagreed, I wanted to argue,” Morozoff said. “Now, that I have changed many of my opinions, I stop and think, ‘Hey, I was wrong about that, I could be wrong about this.’ I guess I listen to everyone’s opinions without getting defensive, because I don’t tie my own opinions to my ego anymore.”
Since that first experience in Peru, Morozoff has spent much of his time Wwoofing, CouchSurfing, exploring, and learning. WWOOF is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and CouchSurfing is a non-monetary hospitality and social networking service that arranges homestays, and offers lodging and hospitality. Morozoff also became fluent in Spanish and spent time teaching English in a village in Guatemala. He has travelled throughout several southern states and much of Central America. He has lodged and worked with a diverse population, ranging from Hare Krishnas and old hippies to survivalists and circus performers, all the while expanding his knowledge, broadening his interests, and bettering himself as a person.
Morozoff doesn’t yet claim to have all the answers to life, but with the same focus and ability he displayed as a young hockey player, he will keep searching. With a love of travel and continually seeking new experiences, the search will undoubtedly be an enjoyable one.