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Freedom, Possessions, and Materialism, As Perceived By A Modern Urban Hunter-Gatherer
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November 19, 2011
7:03 pm
Currently: Northeast US
Forum Posts: 32
Member Since:
July 8, 2011
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Hey, Jesse! Thanks for the question and no, I don't mind the inquiry in the least.

The succinct answer is NO. No kids. No plans for kids, either. Though patient and good with children (perhaps due to some similarity of mental plane), I don't consider myself the parenting type.

Thanks again, and keep in touch.


In the spirit of the hunt,

November 28, 2011
3:54 pm

I lived out of a backpack for 6 months. Two 3-month chunks, actually. I was never so happy as when I had so little. Not only did I have all my posessions on my back (plus a few things riding the postal system), I spent all my time alone in the wilderness. Sometimes I went days without seeing another person. I took a lot of pictures, though. I like having tangible things for memories, even if they're just electrons. I have not been able to purge my things at home afterward, not in the least. If anything, my pile of junk has grown. It is my fond hope to one day make this kind of life permanent. I'm doing the exact opposite to make it possible: working at a desk, saving up money, anchored down with long-living pets instead of children. If something goes wrong in the mean time, I'm going anyway.

November 30, 2011
6:41 am

While I agree that most of us probably have more things than we need (and that's for each of us to discover for ourselves), I pick up a certain disdain here for all those "lesser" folks who work day to day for a living. The reality is, however, that Rob was able to do what he did only because hundreds of others work steady jobs, and make a contribution to society in the process -- police, road builders, farmers, airline pilots, carpenters, engineers, clothing and shoe manufacturers . . . the list is endless.

November 30, 2011
8:31 am

I know I will always own stuff, and having a child means I am not allowed to wander off. However, even with a child, this "no superfluous stuff" habit works well.

Firstly, kids really need minimal toys. What they need is a story, attention and access to some supervised adult activities they are always curious to try.

Secondly, it's not productive to miss my "old life" and so I was ready, when needed, to quit habits and activities from the time before baby. Nothing wild, mind you, but it was easier to re-shift the priorities. Sadly, I quit playing the piano for a while, but now I resumed, with little loss of skill and much more emotion and character.

But I was also forced to give up a lot of stuff. I decided to leave my husband and I had to leave a lot of stuff and money behind. Being much worse off financially, however, did not cramp my life so much, and I was not worried I was not drinking the 2-euro latte anymore. Initially, though, it was hard to accept having what you need as good enough- I was too used to having what I wanted on a whim.

So, I had to learn to keep it simple.

And please, if you ever have kids, don't feed them the standard kid diet. You'll save yourself the Horrible Twos. Mine's a sweet angel when he's had enough fatty meat or eggs and a fury if he gets hold of candy.

December 1, 2011
2:07 am

But the principle of eat it, wield it or carry it has been invaluable in doing social science research. Can I "eat", or digest some texts? If it sounds silly, then it probably is silly and I can cautiously discard the info.

Can I carry it, is it easy to remember and connect with other ideas?

Can I wield it, or use the idea to illustrate and communicate my own understanding?

I get a clearer view of what seems like bullshit, and then I explain to others why I think this or that is bullshit. Papers write themselves and I don't sink into postmodernism.

In the end, it gives me the confidence to be able to state a point of view in the academic environment and not just read and reproduce old arguments. I am not a hotshot academic, but I like the idea that I don't have to be impersonal and dull, even at the master's level.

December 5, 2011
2:10 pm
Greg Willson

when I was an idealistic young man in my twenties I read, The Razor's Edge (1946)by Somerset Maugham while travelling thru Malaysia. its full of this wondering Zen theme but told poetically by one of the old masters of the English language. the protaganist deals with the challenge of living life as described above or following the normal path we all know.

December 19, 2011
9:28 am

Marilyn makes an interesting point. However I think you could argue that the presence of all this infrastructure is what necessitates those 100s of people to work and contribute. If none of this was here than it would have been easier for Rob to walk the earth because there would be more natural resources available to the individual wanderer.

December 27, 2011
7:17 am
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[...] Freedom, Possessions, and Materialism, As Perceived By A Modern Urban Hunter-Gatherer [...]

March 12, 2012
10:21 am

i too have lived a simple life. i did not get a car until i was 32. i moved every year or so, have been all over this part of the planet and financed myself designing drought-tolerant, no maintenance, no irrigation system gardens. after i purchased my 1964 bright yellow ford ranchero, if my possessions did not fit in the back below the bedline, it did not go with me. i always had my parent's coleman stove from the 50's, my sleeping bag, a wood and canvas cot from the 50's,i moved around until i got married at age 50 and we are still going from place to place. i finally have some property, an acre in the woods in wa state and have upon it a tiny house 10 by 10, no neighbors, just state land surrounds us. just the right size, the house and the land. we have no electricity, a humanure toilet and will be digging a well ourselves. a garden and elk and deer that cross our land provide much of our food. we live close to the columbia, sturgeon and salmon,and and close to the beach where we acquire crabs and clams.i no longer have my ford. i had it for 18 years and gave it to another ford lover. he is now the third owner. i have this idea that if i have not used an item in 6 months, i do not need it. and out it goes to another person. the following comes from my parents)i am a big believer in not throwing anything into a landfill, so i recycle nearly everything into my compost or into the recycling bins. i think if a producer can make it, they can unmake it. that is their responsibility. i have acquired sometings from which i need to make others...lots of wool i need to spin and make sweaters, and lots of fabric from which i need to make some quilts and clothing. i have only ever had a treadle sewing machine so i can at least not have to wait until the electricity goes back on. that is one thing i have had since i bought my ranchero. it fit lying down in the back. my husband grew up in one of those families who had to have the next latest great thing. he was a bit of a hoarder when we met. no more. i have taught him that when you have too many things, they end up owning you. such a burden. even backpacking...jeez, he would take everything but the kitchen sink, while i just had my 1940's austrian backpack, that carries no more than 30 pounds. before i had my car, all my necessities were in my pack. i have never understood the need for stuff. i did not own a tv until i was 50 and boy was i shocked! the swearing, the voyeurism, the drug ads. i do not go to doctors. i use plants for medicine. the side effects of those chemicals! wow. do people listen to those damaging side effects when they get those drugs. i see the acquisition of items connected to the acquisition of drugs. i just need this drug or that thing to make me feel "better". i guess the brainwashing just did not take with me. i asked my mother once, how long i had had a mind of my own, she said since the day you were born. she encouraged this. i was born in 1954. i feel grateful that self-reliance was considered a virtue in my (scandinavian) culture.

March 16, 2012
8:30 am

I disagree with one key photos...for me, the last quarter of a century of amazing experiences can be relived when I see a random photo from that venture flash on my screen saver. I relive and am reminded of dozens of such wonderful experiences every day I spend any time with my computer. Regardless of your life or your memory, no one can truly recall every such event...and, there's the thrill of being reminded randomly as your current life moves forward.

June 1, 2012
6:28 pm

My family came to the country I live in ripped from their homeland mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts and some items they brought with them are priceless. Some things such as photos and letters document who you are and the lives of your now dead relatives. The good parts of these things should be kept. Old letters are priceless. It is so fun to read of my grandfather writing to his sister about the deaths from yellow fever in his regiment. 'don't tell mother' haven't we all said that.
The rest can go. Collections for the sake of collecting don't appeal to me at all. You won't find any beanie babies at my house. Little fussy dust collectors are not my thing either.
I love the idea that I really have nothing worth stealing. I also long for the day when I get to pass on my job as family archivist to the next generation. Digital doesn't quite have the same meaning as paper but soon it will all be there.
A few boxes of priceless letters at the back of a closet won't sink my ship!

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