Money and materialistic things are not necessary to live a rich life, and Sooke resident Erik Anderson is living proof.
Anderson, 74, who goes by the name of Hum, was born in Portland, Ore. in 1944 and grew up living in a middle-class family.
At the age of 19, Hum decided to travel to the Middle East, where he ended up staying throughout most of the 1960s.
“I left the U.S. three months after John F. Kennedy was killed. I wanted to taste the salt of the Earth and experience other cultures, because the U.S. was about as crazy as it is today,” chuckled Hum.
Growing up, Hum had an interest in history and exotic places, and would often read books about other countries.
Hum started his journey in India, where he stayed for two years studying Buddhism and volunteering his time doing humanitarian work, such as starting up a school for street kids. The name Hum was given to him by one of his Buddhist teachers.
“I guess you could say the meaning of Hum, is like a full circle. It’s a feeling like everything comes back to being a social person. Like Jesus, he might have gone in to the forest and did different things, but he came back to the marketplace to share what he had learned,” said Hum.
“If you gain wisdom, bring it back and share it with people; contribute to a better society and spiritual state for everyone. “
Hum travelled to multiple places in the Middle East, and while in Israel, he ended up meeting a Russian-Canadian woman and fell in love.
The two were married, and after travelling around they eventually decided to come to Canada.
After a while, the two separated, but Hum decided to stay in Canada.
“I kind of stumbled upon Sooke. I heard the name, and in the Middle East, ‘Souk’ means street market, so I was kind of drawn to it,” said Hum. “It just kind of what brought me here.”
By the 1970s, Hum moved to Sooke, and has been living here ever since.
“I had a spiritual calling to live close to the Earth, I wanted to study, meditate, pray, write and read, so I found my little place in the Sooke Hills. I have been living there for 42 years and I will continue to live this way for was long as I can,” said Hum.
Hum has no electricity, heat, or running water. He is entirely self sufficient, carrying his own fresh water to drink and clean himself, and chopping his own wood for heat and light. He has never owned a car, and gets from place-to-place by bike.
“I like to live kind of a monk’s life. I was inspired by the poor, rural people of the world to live very simply,” explained Hum.
“I’m retired now, but for the last 15 years I’ve been going to Ethiopia for a few months and doing some humanitarian work. Mostly going to villages and finding children who need corrective surgeries, for things like club food, clef palate, or burns, and we transport them to a home stay, where they before and after their surgeries.”
Hum worked for 20 years in community health care in Sooke, working with adults on the autism spectrum who were living in a group home. He also worked part-time doing freelance work for the Sooke Mirror for about 10 years.
Hum said he has stayed in Sooke all of these years because of the natural environment.
“It’s one of the most beautiful places. I look out the window and see the great richness of nature, and it’s beautiful seeing the parts of Earth untouched by humans,” he said.
Hum added that it’s important for him to live a life full of kindness, love, and to be one with nature.
“I remember reading this quote when I was a kid, it said something like ‘A man is rich for what he can do without,’ and I thought, ‘Well how could anyone be rich without nice things?’, but I know now that actually you can be rich through your health, your spiritual and mental life, your relationships. All these intangible things are what make you truly rich,” said Hum.
“And everyone can do it in their own way, you know, they don’t have to live out in the woods like me. They can just live more authentically, simply, more lovingly … more beautifully.”