These are a few of my favorite things: #25 (Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow)

Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can’t afford his gas
So I’m stuck here watching TV

I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up
I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna soak up the sun

I’ve got a crummy job
It don’t pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
While it’s still free

I’m gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me

Don’t have no master suite
But I’m still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I’m the one who has the key
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too

Who needs stupid expensive materialistic stuff when we have a rocking attitude to enjoy an uncomplicated simple life? The beauty of simple pleasures (n listening to such songs is among them) is really something else n is really kinda lost on people who are stuck in the rat race n living the false dream.Maybe something is really wrong with them to be lost in false glittery branded fake things n looking down on folks who are having the real fun!! Instead of racing for the new car, or gizmos or exotic vactions n villas, I’d just soak up the sun n chill. !!

Also check out my another favorite: Society

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March 7, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Happiness, Music, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Simplicity, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #21 (About my very tortured friend Peter by Charles Bukowski)

About my very tortured friend Peter by Charles Bukowski

Drawing of writer Charles Bukowski

he lives in a house with a swimming pool 
and says the job is 
killing him. 
he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to 
get rid of 
him. his novels keep coming 
back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams 
“go to New York and pump the hands of the 
publishers?” 
“no,” I tell him, “but quit your job, go into a 
small room and do the 
thing.” 
“but I need ASSURANCE, I need something to 
go by, some word, some sign!” 
“some men did not think that way: 
Van Gogh, Wagner—” 
“oh hell, Van Gogh had a brother who gave him 
paints whenever he 
needed them!” 

“look,” he said, “I’m over at this broad’s house today and 
this guy walks in. a salesman. you know 
how they talk. drove up in this new 
car. talked about his vacation. said he went to 
Frisco—saw Fidelio up there but forgot who 
wrote it. now this guy is 54 years 
old. so I told him: ‘Fidelio is Beethoven’s only 
opera.’ and then I told 
him: ‘you’re a jerk!’ ‘whatcha mean?’ he 
asked. ‘I mean, you’re a jerk, you’re 54 years old and 
you don’t know anything!’” 

“what happened 
then?” 
“I walked out.” 
“you mean you left him there with 
her?” 
“yes.” 

“I can’t quit my job,” he said. “I always have trouble getting a 
job. I walk in, they look at me, listen to me talk and 
they think right away, ah ha! he’s too intelligent for 
this job, he won’t stay 
so there’s really no sense in hiring 
him. 
now, YOU walk into a place and you don’t have any trouble: 
you look like an old wino, you look like a guy who needs a 
job and they look at you and they think: 
ah ha!: now here’s a guy who really needs work! if we hire 
him he’ll stay a long time and work 
HARD!” 

“do any of those people,” he asks “know you are a 
writer, that you write poetry?” 
“no.” 
“you never talk about 
it. not even to 
me! if I hadn’t seen you in that magazine I’d 
have never known.” 
“that’s right.” 
“still, I’d like to tell these people that you are a 
writer.” 
“I’d still like to 
tell them.” 
“why?” 
“well, they talk about you. they think you are just a 
horseplayer and a drunk.” 
“I am both of those.” 
“well, they talk about you. you have odd ways. you travel alone. 
I’m the only friend you 
have.” 
“yes.” 
“they talk you down. I’d like to defend you. I’d like to tell 
them you write 
poetry.” 
“leave it alone. I work here like they 
do. we’re all the same.” 
“well, I’d like to do it for myself then. I want them to know why 
I travel with 
you. I speak 7 languages, I know my music—” 
“forget it.” 
“all right, I’ll respect your 
wishes. but there’s something else—” 
“what?” 
“I’ve been thinking about getting a 
piano. but then I’ve been thinking about getting a 
violin too but I can’t make up my 
mind!” 
“buy a piano.” 
“you think 
so?” 
“yes.” 

he walks away 
thinking about 
it. 

I was thinking about it 
too: I figure he can always come over with his 
violin and more 
sad music.

The poetry is a conversation between two friends, the poet & a young man who seems to be stuck in the ‘Rat Race’ n consumerism (He lives in a home with a swimming pool). The poet lives his life the way he wants (he writes poetry but doesn’t want to publicize his passion for the praise of others, he does it for the joy it brings him) n the other guy also wants to do the same, he means to do the same but he can’t get un-stuck. He somehow keeps justifying his choices. Now this is very, very interesting, people who live their life according to the pre-made script of the society always have their reasons to remain stuck in their misery. They keep cracking Monday morning jokes but can’t break away from work-consumerism-impressing others-more work-more misery cycle.  The friend though seeking advice from the narrator to quit his work doesn’t miss the chance to brag about his supposed superiority. He is definitely self deluded …no wonder he’s confused  & can’t find the courage to do what he really wants. If we look around us, the majiority of the masses are tortured like our tortured friend Peter. The last lines are so powerful, they give me goosebumps, even if our friend Peter gets a violin/piano as he has been planning for a long long time, he’ll only play sad music on it. Joy is not possible till he is stuck in his current mindset.

February 20, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Poetry, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings. 2 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #10: Finding Joy in Chopping Wood & Carrying Water!

There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” What’s the difference? The tasks are the same & yet different, ‘cos of a change in how we view them!!

Before enlightenment (in our context while we are still running the Rat Race; Quitting the Rat Race is nothing short of Enlightenment!!!) chopping wood & carrying water seem boring & mundane. We resent doing that…we do it grudgingly while our mind craves for excitement. We’d rather be living a high life, seeking thrills & excitement, planning our next purchase, next promotion, & impressing people with our shiny possessions. There is a huge Gap between reality & expectation & our mind is under constant stress.

After Enlightenment we start appreciating the beauty of mundane stuff. We perform the task of chopping wood & carrying water with Zen like ease & peace, basking in the sun & appreciating the miracle of existence & nature. Every breath is filled with peace & Joy. Profound Spiritual Joy can be found in everyday activities. The Chop Wood Carry Water attitude can be applied in the context of our everyday chores & help us realize that there is joy  in doing the laundry, cleaning, paying bills, bathing, cooking, and doing what many people sadly think is boring everyday needs. 

In this day and age where people rush here and there and express a sense of loss, because they feel they need to always be doing something noticable, I think this attitude would be a great healing tool, in teaching people that doing the “chores” of life, can in fact be a relaxing and growth enhancing activity.

This also reflects the attitude of rejoicing the way things are rather than always wanting for something else to happen. Usually our attitude is something like “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”~Abraham Lincoln. We just crave for the things that we don’t have instead of enjoying what has indeed been given to us. 

”The Master sees things as they are,Without trying to control them.He lets them go their own way, And resides at the center of the circle. He/She understands that the Universe is forever out of control, And that trying to dominate eventsGoes against the current of the Tao. Be content with what you have; Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, The whole world belongs to you.” ~Tao Te Ching.

This is the only meditation I know. 
While I eat, I eat. 
While I walk, I walk. 
And while I feel sleepy, I sleep. 
Whatsoever happens, happens. 
I never interfere.

Bokuju

October 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 4 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #9: Don’t be A DINK, DITK, DIOK

A cook sautees onions and peppers.

Image via Wikipedia

I was talking to my friend a few days back & she happened to mention about her couple friend, both husband & wife hold good Jobs in MNCs, are making good money, have no kids, & have no time for frivolous activities like cooking at home. So every single day they go out to eat!! I was incredulous. What use is all the money in the world if we can’t take care of basics thing in life like eating. Eating out every day is seriously injurious to health.

It is my serious belief that only one of the spouses should work outside the home, to earn the bread & butter. If both work, home life invariably suffers, no exceptions. When I stopped working after marriage, one of the major reasons among many was I wanted to give my hubby home cooked lunch, I didn’t want him to eat cafeteria food everyday. & since he has to go to office really early in the morning, I have to get up early & there is no way I could finish cooking, get ready & go to my own work. So making lunch in the morning & a good snack in the evening are apparently more important to me than cold hard cash. Also both of us coming home carrying stress from the outside world did not sound very appealing to me. I am always ready to welcome him with a smile when he comes home tired & stressed. When he come we spend peaceful time together. I can let go of the money part for a better quality of life. Some couples earn more but their quality of life sucks. & if one spouse manages the home efficiently, you can actually prevent lotsa wastage. Thus a penny saved is equivalent to a penny earned n wasted. 

October 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Consumerism, Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Personal, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. Leave a comment.

Don’t Stay Hungry, Don’t Stay Foolish: Quitting The Rat Race #8

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

These are the last words of the last issue of the Whole Earth Catalogue published by Stewart Brand and his team. Steve Jobs used it in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

Stay Hungry: means don’t be too easily satisfied or grow too comfortable; do not feel content with what you have already achieved but always feel hungry to do more and more.

It’s a widespread & widely accepted myth that staying dissatisfied with the status quo is a way to make progress & improve your-self. It is assumed that only hungry, dissatisfied people can move forward in life. I disagree with this point of view. Staying Hungry is just another method to stay stuck in the rat race, that cycle of consumerism & over-work!! Wisdom lies in Accepting the present moment in totality, being absolutely satisfied with the way things are, no struggling, only peace.  Being grateful for the bounties of the present means being satiated & not perpetually hungry. Staying hungry is a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction. Always wanting more, we become like a hungry ghost, a creature with a big mouth, a narrow neck, and a big belly, who is always hungry and can never get enough.

If we want serenity we should focus on the present moment & not scatter our attention on imaginary future.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future but to live in the present moment

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. 
Buddha

Nothing ever gets anywhere.  The earth keeps turning round and gets nowhere.  The moment is the only thing that counts.  ~Jean Cocteau

Forever is composed of nows.  ~Emily Dickinson

A small child has no ambitions, he has no desires. He is so absorbed in the moment — a bird on the wing catches his eye so totally; just a butterfly, its beautiful colors, and he is enchanted; the rainbow in the sky… and he cannot conceive that there can be anything more significant, richer than this rainbow. And the night full of stars, stars beyond stars….

Innocence is rich, it is full, it is pure. Ignorance is poor, it is a beggar — it wants this, it wants that, it wants to be knowledgeable, it wants to be respectable, it wants to be wealthy, it wants to be powerful. Ignorance moves on the path of desire. Innocence is a state of desirelessness. ~Osho

…acceptance, total acceptance, means no desire. Desire arises out of nonacceptance. You cannot accept a certain situation, so desire arises. You live in a hut and you cannot accept it; this is too much for the ego, you want a palace – then you are a poor man, but not because you live in a hut, no. In huts, emperors have lived. Buddha has lived under a tree, and he was not a poor man. You cannot find a richer man anywhere. No, your hut doesn’t make you poor. The moment you desire the palace you are a poor man. And you are not poor because others are living in palaces, you are poor because the desire to live in the palace creates a comparison with the hut. You become envious. You are poor.~Osho

Whenever there is discontent, there is poverty; whenever there is no discontent, you are rich. And you have such riches that no thief can steal them; you have such riches, no government can take them by taxation; you have riches which cannot be taken away from you in any way. You have a fort for your being, unbreakable, impenetrable.

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.  ~Margaret Bonnano

Enlightenment is the realization that we have only the present moment to live. The next moment is not certain — it may come, it may not come. In fact, the tomorrow never comes. It is always arriving and arriving, but never arrives. And the mind lives in the tomorrows… and life is possible only in the present.~Osho

I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.  ~Alan Watts

Today is you own. Tomorrow perchance may never come by Swami Sivananda

When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future.  When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past.  ~Author Unknown

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.  ~Dale Carnegie

Pile up too many tomorrows and you’ll find that you’ve collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.  ~The Music Man

October 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Current Events, Happiness, Hmm..., Inspiration, My lifestyle, My Values, Osho, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. 3 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #7: Lessons from the Mexican Fisherman

Perhaps everyone has heard the story of the Mexican Fisherman. The Mexican Fisherman is the hero of the people who are out of rat race.

The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senior.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senior, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senior?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senior? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The Mexican Fisherman represents the spirit & essence of people who have quit the Rat Race. While other people are  like the American Businessman who is busy acquiring money & things & is planning to rest & relax later, a day which might come or not come. The Mexican Fisherman is happy in the present, the American Businessman is chasing happiness in the elusive future.

 “Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~The Dalai Lama (when asked what surprises him the most about humanity)

October 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Consumerism, Happiness, Hmm..., Humor, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 7 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #5: Can Money/stuff Buy Happiness? Putting Things in Perspective


That is the lure of money: It lets people believe that they can be happy with money only if they have just a little more!!!

Yeah Money buys you stress n tension but not to worry it will come handy to buy anti-depressants !!!

That is the lure of money: It lets people believe that they can be happy with money only if they have just a little more!!!



 

September 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Consumerism, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Simplicity, Wisdom. 5 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #4: Killing the cycle of consumerism & (over) work

DSC08232

Image by 特有生物研究保育中心 via Flickr

I guess there is a very close inter connection between  simplicity (living simply enjoying peace rather than stuff), frugality (saving money whenever & wherever we can but still feeling rich & luxurious: yes it is possible), solitude (enjoying time alone n you no longer see the Joneses, so no danger of falling into the trap of trying to compete with them) anti consumerism (stop finding joy in stuff) minimizing our (carbon) footprints on the planet (it makes me uneasy when people come loaded with poly bags containing stuff they don’t even need) & quitting the rat race (goodbye work, hello leisure).

 When we embrace simplicity, frugality & an anti consumerist lifestyle, quitting work is a piece of cake…no more working at a job we don’t want, to buy the stuff we don’t need, to impress the people we don’t even like, & in the bargain plundering the beautiful nature which we actually love!!!

In their ground breaking book ‘ Your Money or your life: 9 steps to transforming your relationship with money‘, authors Vicki Robbins & Joe dominquez say we must not measure the cost of any stuff in terms of money we spend on it but in terms of ‘life energy‘ we have to spend to earn that money. They have redefined the concept of money itself. Money doesn’t simply mean a ‘medium of exchange’ but ‘Money is something for which you trade life energy’. 

In order to apply this principle, you first calculate your hourly wage.  You will then see exactly how much your life energy is worth, and you will be able to measure the cost of money spent in terms of valuable life energy lost, instead of just dollars/rupees/whatever.  (This would come handy in cutting down spending money on useless stuff)

Once you have finished, you can do some eye-opening conversions.  For example:

How much life energy do you spend at convenience stores/restaurants daily?  Could you spend less and still be happy if you cooked at home? & we could think in these term whenever buying stuff big/small. I mean we don’t even need to carry out exact calculations. A general grasp of this concept makes us a little more aware when we are about to spend money.

I am very happy to report that I’ve cut down my own consumption in several areas once i became aware of the concept of ‘life energy’ value of money. This was my precursor to quitting the Rat Race.

‘My dad did not change his lifestyle, he early on recognized that there is a power in keeping a low overhead, he realized that there is a line that balance between having what you want and doing what you want and the more you have what you want the less you will do what you want. So once he says, I have a pair of jeans, a pair of boots and 2 jackets, I can do anything.’
Mario Van Peebles on the accomplishments of his father Melvin Van Peebles.

For me this arrangement works out just fine ‘cos perhaps I’ve been lucky to realize that stuff  ≠ Joy. My home has very simple furniture, just the bare functional basics & I just roll my eyes when I see people’s house that ceased being homes long ago & resemble more closely to museums, they have assorted nick knacks from all over the world displayed proudly (i think comically) in HUGE shelves. So much money down, the drain, so much life energy wasted’ & so much clutter. Spend money & buy head-ache. & more life energy to be wasted on cleaning the dust accumulated on all that stuff.

Ponder Over These too:

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anaesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” – Unknown

“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden in Fight Club

‘There must be more to life than having everything!’~Maurice Sendak

“There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”~Gandhi

With money you can’t buy wisdom, you can’t buy inner peace. Wisdom and inner peace must be created by yourself.~Dalai Lama

“Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~The Dalai Lama (when asked what surprises him the most about humanity)

September 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Current Events, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Personal, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. 8 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #2: Read ‘Possum Living’ & get Inspired

‘Many people, perhaps you among them, are not temperamentally suited for the 9-to-5 rat race but assume there is no other way to live.’ Thus begins a very engrossing & gripping tale of how the author Dolly Freed & her father spent living with no job & almost no money.

Many people are attracted to Quit the rat race & spend life in simplicity but they don’t have clues and/or role models. The book is full of philosophical reflections as well as of practical advice on how to live job-free. I’ve enjoyed the book for its philosophical nuggets. The practical advice is of no use to me ‘cos Dolly n her father lived by rearing & eating Rabbits, chicken, duck, fish etc. I am a hard core Vegetarian.Even otherwise  the practical part may be bit dated because the book was published in 1975 but philosophy in it is evergreen. Dolly’s sense of humor & keen insights made this book absolutely un putdownable for me. The best sentence of the whole book is :

“It’s easier to learn to do without some of the things money can buy than to earn the money to buy them.”

Here are my favorite excerpts from the book

~1 We Quit the Rat Race

Do you remember the story of Diogenes, the ancient Athenian crackpot? He was the one who gave away all his possessions because “People don’t own possessions, their possessions own them.” He had a drinking cup, but when he saw a child scoop up water by hand, he threw the cup away. To beat the housing crunch he set up an abandoned wine barrel in a public park and lived in that.

The central theme of Diogenes’ philosophy was that “The gods gave man an easy life, but man has complicated it by itching for luxuries.”

Apparently he lived up to his principles. When Alexander of Macedon, the future conqueror of the known world, was traveling through Greece, he honored Diogenes with a visit. Alexander admired Diogenes’ ideas to the point of offering him any gift within his means. Diogenes, who was working on his tan at the time, asked as his gift that Alexander move aside a bit so as to stop shading him from the sun. This to the richest and most powerful man in the Western world.

Parting, Alexander remarked, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.” Diogenes went back to nodding in the sunshine.

Diogenes was fair and just to all but refused to recognize the validity of man-made laws. He was a good old boy, one of the first back-to-basics freaks in recorded history. He lived to be over 90. Alexander, The Mighty Conqueror, drank himself to death at age 33.

Well, this “Saint Diogenes” has been my father’s idol for many years. I remember when I was a little girl Daddy painted a picture of Diogenes sitting in his barrel tossing away his drinking cup. He wrote “Are You a Diogian?” as a caption and hung it on the living room wall to inspire us.

~Having told what we do spend money on, let me now say what we don’t spend it on. In a word, hardly anything we can do without. Some people seem to be actively seeking ways to dissipate their money, and get nervous and upset if they fail to get rid of it all on a given shopping spree. It’s burning that proverbial hole in their pocket.

Here are a few things we don’t spend money on:

* Insurance gets never a penny. Once when Mom and Daddy were still married, an acquaintance went into the insurance business and tried to sell them life insurance.

“If I should die,” said Daddy, looking Mom in the face, “money would mean nothing to her.” That was probably the first time in the history of the world an insurance salesman didn’t have a word to say.

We don’t have fire insurance because we have a brick house, a fire extinguisher a hose long enough to reach all parts of the house, a lightning rod, sound electrical wiring, neither of us smokes, and we’re never away from home for long periods of time. We don’t need flood insurance since we live on a hill, and we also don’t need theft insurance (our movable possessions total less than $260 in value). We just see no reason for liability insurance. Not having a car saves us all the insurance associated with that.

* Vacations, another common expenditure, are not required–our whole life is just one big vacation. We don’t need to “get away from it all” because there’s nothing we want to get away from.

* Hobbies don’t cost us much. Mine, birdwatching, requires a pair of binoculars and a book for identifying them, but they both last for many years. We both have $17 running shoes, but they last pretty long. We bought a badminton set for $11 (listed under “Luxuries”), but that, too, should give us years of enjoyment.

* Christmas doesn’t exist for us. December 25 is just another day here. Tis the season to be greedy, ostentatious, treacly sentimental, frenzied, hysterical, morbidly drunk and suicidal, and we see no reason to pretend otherwise. So we ignore it in the hope that it’ll go away. Christmas has become like a horse with a broken leg. You can’t enjoy the horse and simply ignore its broken leg–the only decent thing to do is put it out of its misery and be done with it. If you’re religious, you surely realize that the potlatch orgy of December 25 has little to do with Christ. Mammon or Bacchus, maybe, but not Christ. So do yourself and your religion both a favor and refuse to play the game. If we all ignore it, it really will go away.

* Income tax wasn’t listed on the budget, as you may have noticed. We don’t pay any, because we never have enough income to require paying. You can’t imagine what a difference it makes blood-pressure-wise if one is a taxpayer or not while one is reading the news!

We pay property taxes, because we have to (they really will sell taxes. When the man came around about the “Occupant headtax,” we simply told him we didn’t live here–we’re just here fixing up the place as a rental. He never came back. About two years ago we got a form in the mail about an “occupation tax,” but since we don’t have an occupation, we figured it didn’t concern us.

* Being true misers, we find we can do without all sorts of little nonessentials that do add up: haircuts, “grooming aids,” pets, “knick-knacks” and other decorations, snacks and convenience foods, furniture, beauty parlor visits (I don’t need them), magazines and newspapers (we use the library), telephone service, movies, toothpaste (we make our own–equal parts of salt and baking soda dissolved in water), tobacco, charity, gifts (a quart of wine or moonshine or a dressed rabbit does for gift-giving)–but you get the picture. We keep a record of every cent we spend, so we do know just where it goes. Let me urge you to do the same: You’ll be surprised at all the things that take your money–which means your time and energy. If you’re buying anything on time, you want to find out what the actual interest rate and service charges are, of course.

“But don’t you want Nice Things?” people ask. “Don’t YOU like to go out and have a Good Time?”

“Nope,” we answer. “Get a lot out of staying home reading.”

~We’re incredibly lazy. You wouldn’t believe it! We have an anarchy here wherein neither has to do anything we don’t feel like doing. (Except to feed the creatures. You can’t neglect animals in your care.) Normally I do the housework and the Old Fool does the garden, the heavy work, and the care of the creatures. Not because we have sexist roles, but because the housework bugs him more than it bugs me, and vice versa. If I don’t feel like doing the dishes, say, for a couple of days, why I just don’t do them. I often feed the animals if Daddy feels like goofing off, and he often does the dishes. The anarchy works for us because we love each other and don’t abuse it. It amazes me that so many people must either dominate or be dominated, like a bunch of monkeys on Monkey Island at the zoo.

Often my conscience tries to nag me when I’m goofing off, but it doesn’t get very far any more. Daddy says it’s just the same with him. Actually, it’s hard to understand how it is that laziness has fallen into such disrepute in our society. Well, I’m tired of being a Closet Sluggard! I’m lazy and proud of it!

We can afford to be lazy because we satisfy our material needs with little effort and little money. Of course, you know that money doesn’t buy only goods and services, it also buys prestige and status. Being somewhat egocentric, we don’t feel the need to buy prestige or status. The neat trick that Diogenes pulled was to turn the tables on those of his contemporaries who believed that “Life is a game and money is how you keep score.” He didn’t keep score. We don’t keep score. You needn’t keep score either if you don’t want to. It’s entirely up to you.

Money per se isn’t the only status thing involved. Some people make a big machismo deal out of employment itself. You know, mighty-hunter-bring-home-the-bacon stuff. Folks old enough to remember the depression of the 1930s tend to take a very solemn attitude about jobs, and unless you like to argue, it pays to sidestep the issue with them. It doesn’t matter that you’re not on welfare or accepting charity but are earning your own way in life (albeit in an unorthodox manner), the mystique lies with that Holding Down a Job concept. Don’t ask me why.

Sometimes people who secretly resent it that they have to work (or think they do), and we don’t, point out that Daddy has no security for his old age. Daddy always knuckles under and mutters something like, “Gee, you’re right, mutter, mutter,” because it makes them feel better and doesn’t cost him anything, so why not?

Once he was fishing and an old gentleman came along and struck up a conversation. Coming to the conclusion that Daddy couldn’t find work, he started commiserating with him about the “hard times.” Then Daddy made a mistake and let it out that he didn’t want a job. The old boy got himself into a state of righteous indignation because he was retired) and had earned the right to go fishing on weekdays, by fifty years of hard work, and here Daddy was just going ahead doing it. Daddy mollified him by pointing out that he’d be up shit creek when he got old, and that thought cheered the old gentleman up to the point of giving Daddy a nice catfish he had caught. However, what he truthfully thinks is:

* Sure, you have security, but the slaves on the plantation didn’t starve either.

* The social security system is an obvious pyramid game and can’t be trusted.

* There’s really nothing I do now as a young man to live that I won’t be able to do as an old man.

* It’s unmanly to worry so about the future. Did Caesar worry about his old age pension when he crossed the Rubicon?

* Jesus clearly and specifically taught against concern for future security (Matthew 6:25-34). Like it or not, it’s un-Christian to plan for the future.

* I refuse to spend the first sixty years of my life worrying about the last twenty.

* Dolly will take care of me.

These same resentful people might also bring up that “You aren’t doing your share–you aren’t contributing to society.” While it’s impossible to have too much contempt for this beehive mentality, to avoid an argument you can answer:

* I am too being useful! You can always use me as a Bad Example!

* While I’m not contributing to economic growth, a dubious good, I’m also not contributing to pollution, a definite evil.

~Now that you have the overall idea–is it for you? Possibly not. It depends on the instincts you were born with and your present family circumstances. For example, my Mom wants no part of “this squalor,” as she puts it. Daddy and I are instinctive possums–we break out in hives in elegant surroundings. Also, you have to trust your instincts. ”Philosophize with a hammer,” as Nietzsche advocated, “testing idols to see if they ring true.” Does the money economy ring true for you? Does possum living ring true? It isn’t enough that you know a false idol when you gee one; your family must agree with you. If your kid gets the shakes when the TV goes on the blink, forget it. If your spouse gives you the fish-eye look when you mention rabbits in the cellar, forget it. If the thought of quitting your job blows your mind, don’t do it. If it makes you feel good, on the other hand, do it! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

~ Clothing

The implementation of buying prestige and status is often through the medium of clothing. I hate to say it, but this seems to be especially true of women.

Once when Daddy worked for Manpower he had a two-week job working for a business that sold fashionable women’s clothing. Ladies would come in–all sorts of ladies, from all sorts of backgrounds, usually with several friends–and start buying (on time payments, naturally). The distinct impression was that they didn’t have as much need for clothing as they had to impress their friends and the saleslady with the size of the bundle they were dropping. Then, right out in public, they’d agree among themselves on what lies they would tell their husbands regarding the cost of the various items.

I completely fail to understand this mentality. No doubt they would fail to understand us, so that makes us even. We get all our clothing at the thrift shop. We’re fortunate in that our local church thrift shop is extremely reasonable (there are thrift shops and there are thrift shops). Daddy’s entire wardrobe, excluding running shoes, cost about $10. Mine, also excluding running shoes, cost about $15.

Well, I know what you’re thinking: I’m some poor, dowdy little thing and Daddy looks like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Now, how can I say this without seeming immodest? The truth is that when I get dressed up I’m a knockout. I go out on dates and no one seems ashamed to be seen with me. And while Daddy usually does look like a scarecrow, he, too, is presentable when he wants to be.

Okay, you say, how does all this fine clothing wind up in a thrift shop? That’s easily answered: The ladies who need to show off their spending power also need to make room in their closets before they can buy new clothes. Then, too, many people go on diets and lose weight, treat themselves to a whole new wardrobe to celebrate, and then gain the weight back and have no use for the clothes.

17 Transportation

In our society the automobile is many things to many people. To the suburbanite it has become what the horse was to the Plains Indians–the whole basis of the culture. To a great many men and boys it’s the premier status symbol. Daddy says that when he was a young man the guys would do almost anything to get “wheels,” because the girls wouldn’t even look at you otherwise, and hormones win out over common sense every time. Environmentalists see the automobile, both in its manufacture and operation, as the main ingredient of our monumental pollution problem.

We haven’t had a car for three years now, and there has been some inconvenience because of it. But then there’s an awful lot of inconvenience to owning a car, too: insurance, maintenance, gas worry, traffic jams, parking–and mainly money. Freedom of mobility doesn’t come cheap.

Unfortunately, there’s virtually zero public transportation in our area, so we walk, run, or bicycle everywhere we go. There’s a little town 2 miles from our house, and when we need anything–groceries, hardware, etc.–we walk there pulling a grocery cart (the geek-mobile).

It doesn’t seem to have to do a bit of walking and cycling have harmed us. In fact, we enjoy it. Walking or cycling, you really do notice a lot more about the things going on around you than you do from a speeding car, trite as that may sound

A word or two about our chief mode of transportation: A good three-speed bike is better than a ten-speed bike for practical transportation purposes. It’s easier to ride, easier to maintain, less a target for thieves, and less expensive then a ten speed. We bought our bikes at yard sales rather than from dealers. However, don’t look for a terrific bargain, because if you get one you’ll be buying stolen merchandise. Don’t encourage thieving–your bike might be the next to disappear.

~ Daily Living

Now that you know how to become a member of the leisure class, you may wonder just what it is we leisure-niks do all day.

Sometimes people will tell us that if they didn’t have a job to go to, or a regular routine of duties and responsibilities, they wouldn’t know what to do–they’d be bored to death. Boredom is not to be underestimated. Murders, suicides, and even full-scale wars have come about from pure boredom. (Napoleon justified his career on the grounds that he gave men the opportunity to die with military glory rather than of boredom. Women, too, are vulnerable. “Housewife syndrome”–the daily occurrence of eventlessness–is a major problem in our society. In 6th-century Constantinople, Empress Theodora established a convent for reformed prostitutes, so they wouldn’t be forced to resume business. Some of the “saved” girls manifested their gratefulness by leaping out of the windows–literally bored to death. But occasionally being bored is part of life, so don’t overestimate it, either. (Nietzsche said, “Against boredom even the gods struggle in vain.”)

TV is, of course, the modern way to alleviate boredom, but we don’t have one. People are always trying to give us their old TVs, but we decline. We can’t handle TV. It absolutely fascinates me when I see it, but I always feel nervous next day when I wake up and realize I’ve attuned my thoughts to a TV program I’ve seen–something unreal! My instincts warn me there’s a stalking horse in the field. What predator might not be hiding behind the stalking horse of TV? If you can handle TV there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it–it’s just not for us.

We haven’t found boredom to be a problem except during the dismal months of the last two winters, which were exceptionally nasty ones. Generally if we are able to get out-of-doors, to exercise properly (run) on a regular basis, eat properly, and be free of outside pressures and harassment, all else falls into place–life is good.

We aren’t hermits and neither need you be if you take up this life style. We have friends who invite us to their parties even though they know we aren’t in a position to reciprocate (which proves them to be true friends). Friends and neighbors stop by here for a drop of the creature and a hand or two of cards, and we do them the same way. I get the impression some of our friends like to visit here to get a respite from the gracious living they’re forced to endure at home. Here they can throw ashes and nutshells on the floor and put their feet up on the table if they want. I go on dates same as any other girl. If you want to be a hermit or a hippie there’s no reason you shouldn’t, but you don’t have to be one just because you don’t happen to have any visible means of support.

~What’s Gonna Happen Next?

It might occur to you that getting off the 9-to-5 treadmill is what you want and need right now but that spending the rest of your life on a half-acre Garden of Eden isn’t the whole answer either. Good thinking.

One thing that living possum-style does is to give a person the confidence to have freedom of choice. It’s quite likely, for example, that I’ll get a job some day: to see what’s going on out there in the “real world” and to meet–well, you know–men. But I’ll never, never get myself into a situation where I need a job. If a job annoys me at all–back to possum living here at my Snug Harbor.

This freedom I harp on isn’t restricted merely to whether or not to have a job. Now that we have some practice at it, I’m pretty sure we can possum live anywhere. And that means we can travel. I have an idea in the back of my head to build a flat-bottomed boat small enough to be rowed or poled but big enough to afford sleeping room for two under a canvas shelter. We would then take off down the intercostals waterway from Philadelphia to my birthplace in Florida, and return. The whole trip would take about a year, and we’d live off the land (and water) the whole time. What an adventure! We’d rent out the house for the year, which should more than pay for the boat and expenses. (Now all I have to do is to talk Daddy–or someone else–into coming along to help do the rowing and poling.)

So that’s how the last four years have drifted by for us.

Now, then, don’t you have a hobby you just don’t have time to pursue? Golf? Tennis? Partying? Studying? Music? Painting? Pottery? Hang gliding? Whatever? Even fishing or gardening–wouldn’t you like to change these from merely recreation to partly occupation?

Yes? Then why don’t you simply do so?

It’s feasible. It’s easy. It can be done. It should be done.

Do it.

September 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Consumerism, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Wisdom. 5 comments.