February 22, 2010
I'm proud to have a diverse and erudite collection of fans and regular commenters. This essay (and the discussion it spawned) was originally posted in the Talk forum. It's a fascinating glimpse into the life and thoughts of someone who's lived a foraging existence in the modern urban world.
Shedding And Rejecting Material In A Material(istic) World
A strong point of commonality between my way of thinking and the way of the Gnoll is outlined flawlessly by "If you can't eat it, wear it, wield it or carry it, leave it behind." This phrase caught my eye upon reading…
Lots of this seems very familiar, thanks for sharing.
I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t jealous of Rob’s experience, and the path his life has taken. It seems that so many people are bogged down by the reality we’ve made for ourselves, that a tale of adventure and lifestyle, such as Rob has described, is almost ficticious, a dream through which one can experience vicariously. In more ways than one, I have been lucky enough to learn, change, and grow under Rob as my mentor...my Alpha, if you will. If one is shown, even just a simple glimpse, into something as uniquely exceptional as this path of his, it unconsciously forces you to reflect on your own life, your choices, and your goals. I have been doing much of this as of late; learning, changing, adapting, and growing. As a business owner, I have unshakable roots and a place I’ll always call home, but, the beauty of my business is that I CAN travel anywhere, all over the globe if I so choose, and be able to carry on my trade and support myself. It’s inspiring, this article, for me to step back and re-think the way I’ve thought about travel, or possessions (or lack thereof), and more importantly, what all these have to do with how I want to really live. Treasure your experiences through life, be good to yourself, and make the most of what the world has to offer, one day at a time.
Thank you for writing this, Rob, and J. for sharing it again. The inspiration I feel from these musings is limitless.
I own lots of stuff, that I've worked for, treasure and enjoy tremendously.
To each his own.
Worthwhile possessions are simply the physical manifestation of good ideas (spiritual)
Inspiring story. I would say it is not so much how many things you own, but how much those things own you. And I definitely agree that stuff can own you and decrease your freedom.
As soon as I saw Rob's name attached to this I knew it was going to be thought provoking. If you haven't had a chance to check out his blog or his music you should do it. Nice work Rob!
AS one who has purged all of her possessions and took to the road of freedom as well I still sat here smiling with what so deeply resonates. Interesting that if you attempt to go 'normal' again and gather 'stuff' it just does not feel right and causes a heaviness, depression. Thank you for sharing your experiences and reminder to keep it light:-)
Richard, of course you feel that way--it's the lifestyle you were raised with and the lifestyle you continue to live.
I lack the guts at this point in my life to give everything up--and by that I mean a lifestyle with which I'm comfortable, as well as my prized possessions--and try a whole new way of living. But I do see some of the downsides of my current lifestyle and advantages to the one Rob and the gnolls have.
I do feel like my stuff owns me, rather than vice versa. My house, cars, computers, etc., all require constant attention and a constant stream of cash that forces me work a regular job, which forces me own a house and car... (Not mention the burden of "owning" the wife and kids.)
My dream is to achieve true freedom, if only briefly, before I die.
July 7, 2011
Thank you to all honest responders.
Though a prevalent theme in my essay is "material," it's not the main idea. With that writing I sought to give a snapshot of my life and how I took benefit and achieved growth through (instinctive) limitation of material collection. Don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to ownership of things, per se, just as long as those things have at least some degree of usefulness. This is subject to individual definition.
I'm happy to see that J's vision for a place through which individuals can share ideas and experiences, engage in discourse and debate, and ultimately come away with useful catalysts for growth, is coming to fruition.
Here's to the speed, strength and cunning of our pack. Long may we hunt.
Richard's comments nicely demonstrate human loss aversion bias (the low-grade version of human motivation for the show Hoarders). To my mind, that's one of the primary maladaptive drivers of materialist/consumerist culture. We're predisposed to choose paths which are deleterious to our psychological well-being.
Then, after making bad choices, we backwards rationalize. The paradox of the irrational human mind having developed to believe it is rational. It's kinda depressing in that it's hard to override even when you know the bias is there.
July 7, 2011
People can't know what they don't know, and can be shown the way only to a certain point - a line which they alone must cross and lead their own way into uncharted territories. This is where real self-discovery takes place: on the precipice of the unknown.
I've found that it's most encouraging to those curious about exploring different, albeit terrifying courses to take cues from people who have gone their own way and are still alive - who strangely seem MORE alive than others who opted for a safer, more sterile life.
Those who tread the simpler (often less comfortable) path have emerged all the richer and more free from their choice - though not unscathed! They're instead adorned with the scars their experience leave behind, much like the nicks and scratches on the blade of a feudal Samurai, so full of character and form, each mark carrying its own story, its own lesson.
Being marked by one's experiences shouldn't be avoided, but instead embraced.
I implore others to do nothing but search for their own way, one step at a time onto unfamiliar ground. It will become evident what things are of worth (and what things are worthless) when all is simplified into either assets or liabilities. Sure, a person's life will invariably leave indeleble blemishes on them, but this is part and parcel of LIVING, and is, in a way, a method of keeping record of one's steps over each inch of the recondite landscape across which we ALL must tread. Fear nothing, least of all the very things which make us who and what we are.
Draw your sword often on your journey, and may it be beautifully marked along the way.
I'm not sure it's as all-or-nothing as Rob makes it sound. In my 30s, I spent a month living across the country in a apartment-hotel (working on a project for a big aerospace co.). Getting used to living without my "stuff" meant I had to find other diversions in the local area. When I finally returned home -- my first reaction was: "OMG! I am SO encumbered!! I own -- and am owned by -- so much stuff!!" So I started thinking about what I could get rid of: obviously not my computer, and thus not my desk and chair and maybe a small bookcase for its gear and manuals.
My sewing machine? Hell no! Quilting was a major creative pleasure, and that meant my sewing table, my boxes of threads and fabric (maybe NOT all 40 boxes of fabric -- but as a quilter, I was using 'all those colors.') The TV? Diversion as I sewed or used the computer. My bookcases full of books that I read and reread? Why would I want to have to drive to the library every time I wanted to read or reread on a different topic or type of book? Pots and pans -- and a stove and fridge and then a cabinet for foodstuffs, and some plates and forks and knives? Absolutely!
And while I certainly had stuff I didn't need to have and I did, in fact, get rid of some stuff -- my PLEASURES dictated having a certain amount of stuff. I am NOT going to go 'live rough' as if that were the only successful way to live. If that suits you, go enjoy! For me, living *comfortably*, with my stuff at hand IS my chosen life! And if that requires working to pay a mortgage and electric bill -- fine! My JOY in owning my stuff, my sense of warmth and pleasure in being in my own 'nest' with my prized (or 'necessary') possessions around me? Priceless!
I'm not sure I don't see some 'noble savage' envy in this essay, some of the: 'it's so much easier if you have nothing, to avoid the pitfalls of owning anything.' Yes, Gryka (or Grok) only had what s/he could carry. And there is some attraction to that idea (maybe moreso to young folks) -- but not when it means sleeping bare and hungry in the rain or snow!!
"Some of the greatest moments of my life cannot be proven to have existed."
Thought-provoking. Went out threw out half my paper bags I'd kept for 'just in case'. Sure could relate to the Human Loss Aversion Bias!
not sure why that post was included in this site but it sure failed to instruct or uplift me in any way. let's stick to the diet shall we?
JS, may I respectfully disagree with Mr. Duff Watkins? Let's *not* stick to the diet. These sort of things are very valuable! Thanks
July 7, 2011
How about you treat this site like a salad bar: take what you want, leave the rest for others.
The "diet" is part and parcel of a bigger picture. If you isolate that aspect and focus on it to the exclusion of all other concepts with which its tied in, you might miss out on some (relatively) valuable things.
The main idea of that essay wasn't to instruct, nor uplift. I'm neither professor nor motivational speaker.
In prior responses I've touched upon what I sought to convey.
[...] state society is so far from our nature, we’re all radicals. And from a couple days ago, Freedom, Possessions, and Materialism, As Perceived By A Modern Urban Hunter-Gatherer. Suggestion [...]
I'm sure it's an interesting life that you have led. If you don't mind me asking have you had any offspring? That is one thing that I think leaps to mind as being at odds with your lifestyle in a modern world. In an ancient world, of course, but in a modern one I'm curious if you were able to have a family while living in that ancient way....
thanks in advance,
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