Not Alone

Some of you I’m sure don’t quite understand my recent personal paradigm shift. I think a natural reaction to my apparent “downgrading” to a smaller apartment, working less and getting rid of the car (incidentally, CAR FOR SALE!) is the thought that I’m somehow retreating, backing down or going backwards on the track of life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To put it into financial terms (which is all de rigeur these days) what I’m doing is changing my investment strategy.

The typical measure of success in modern western society is in terms of money and property. The bigger your house, the faster your car and the fatter your wallet the more successful you are. There frequently isn’t much attention given to how relaxed you are, the quality of your relationships, your health or your sense of purpose.

I’ve pulled a lot out of the material categories and am reinvesting it in these other, oft overlooked categories of life. Yes I’m getting rid of a lot of THINGS but I’m gaining time, peace of mind and other intangibles that never the less mean something very important to me. What’s more I firmly believe that if I pursue that which truly matters to me and is at the heart of my being that I will find the material success that I need to live in comfort and security.

Something that encourages me is finding that I’m not alone. There are others out there who have found ways to live that are more in line with their spirit than with the dominant paradigm;

This fellow for instance has lived for the past eight years without using money AT ALL. An impressive feat in this money obsessed world and a great example of the invisible alternatives that are all around us. His lifestyle isn’t quite what I would aspire to, but the very fact that its possible is somehow a triumph.

Another example is to be found here;

Now if this doesn’t make sense than I’m not sure if anything does. Not quite the anti-thesis of consummerism that our moneyless friend champions extreme early retirement seems to be the best way to beat the system without dropping out of the system. Its amazing to think about the possibility of living so free simply by slashing your expenses.

I find all of this extemely encouraging. I’m not terribly interested in a totally money free lifestyle – it necessarily precludes you from engaging fully with mass society and early retirement extreme is for me at least a ways off, but I’m feeling a real kinship with these folks and it gives me an idea of the places I could go moving on into the future.

This lifestyle clearly isn’t for everyone, in fact it will probably alienate me from some people. But that’s okay. We can’t be everything to everyone. I’m not interested in dropping out of mass culture, what I am interested in is dropping those parts of that culture that are diseased and unsustainable. Humanity has so much more potential than what we see today, both on societal and individual levels. If I can I’d like to be part of a movement to change the course of that culture, even a tiny bit towards something more ethical and something more human.

Right now the focus necessarily has to be on myself and discovering how I can live and work in a way that is in line with my ideals and my needs without infringing on those of others around me. There’s a lot to do. Wish me luck in doing it.


One comment

  1. Early Retirement Extreme · July 30, 2009

    Good luck! 😉

    In terms of alienation, I have tended to keep a low profile amongst the “normals”. They spend way more money than I do. Conversely, I have way more money than they do. However, when it comes to other areas than dealing with money, we all have the usual stuff in common.

    The only kind of regular friction I experience is when they want to blow $50 on one shot of entertainment. I might go for that once, but not twice. Otherwise, I don’t think people I meet for the first time (or even the tenth time) can tell. If they ask me what I do, I give them one of my job/projects according to what I think they can relate to best. I don’t tell them that I only “work” on that 3-4 hours a week 😉

    On the other hand, indeed, there are also many like-minded individuals out there. I am actually surprised I don’t encounter more resistance on some of my more outrageous posts. I would also say that the connection is stronger since it is based on a similar philosophy of living and thinking rather than buying similar consumer goods.

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