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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Could You Live Without Money?

I used to think that one of the best things about backpacking away from civilization for days or weeks at a time was the fact that I could live, even though it was for such a short period, without using any money whatsoever. Obviously it took some cash to get prepared with gear, supplies, and food but for an entire week or more I didn't need one cent to survive (this was before you had to pay for wilderness permits, when you could drink out of a stream sans filter, and when backpacks weighed upwards of 40 pounds when filled).
Today I came across an article about a man who actually lives without money. I am always fascinated by people like this. They turn what society says people must do, into things that aren't necessary. Like the author, I am rather spoiled by hot water on demand, AC in the car, and the occasional batch of Chinese food being delivered. Could I live like Mr Suelo in the article? If necessary, most anyone could. Would I do it by choice. No. But the takeaway for everyone who reads this article and Mr Suelo's blog are many:
  • You can live however you want.

  • You don't need to live in a house, an apartment, or even a tent.

  • You don't need to be in debt.

  • You don't need to work.

  • You don't need to spend money if you don't want to.

  • You can actually live off the land (but your diet, your clothing, and your lifestyle will probably be significantly different that your current consumerist lifestyle).

  • You don't need electricity, running water, a TV, a refrigerator, or other things that people feel are "must have" items to survive.

  • You don't need to act "normal" or what society at large considers "normal". (IMHO when you look at a group of "high class executives" their behavior is often anything BUT normal--buying stuff not because they want it but to impress others, working 18 hours a day and completely ignoring their families, etc).

  • You do need an open mind to live like this gentleman. Unfortunately our minds start closing (mine included) around junior high school. From then on we follow a path of what is expected of us. The more open we are to the wide range of possibilities available to us, the more possibilities we find.

Some of the most memorable people I remember from growing up were, as grandma called them, "the eccentrics". An aunt who left her family to travel around the world like a gypsy with only what she could carry in her backpack. They guy who came back from Vietnam and lived in the local woods because he couldn't stand to live in society. The man who gave away all of his money and started over just to see if he could do it. Learning from people like these will teach you survival skills that won't be included in survival school curriculums.


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