I’m coming to realize that my singular desire in life is to become as wholly self-reliant and efficient as possible. I have no idea why. I feel like it’s the only true freedom in this life that I could possibly attain. But when I think about it, it would seem that this desire to expend only the energy required to provide the essential necessities to sustaining life, those being food, water, and shelter, and expend whatever energy left over to continue to mold my life as I see fit, could only derive from a purely instinctual level of the human brain, and that it lies in all human brains. The base of the brain that connects to the spine via the medulla oblongata. My Psych101 teacher called it the reptilian brain, and everyone has one.
We have lost connection with our fundamental necessities and take them for granted because we have invented more efficient and convenient methods of completing the tasks necessary to survive. In doing so, I believe that we have weakened that reptilian brain. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against innovation; laundry machines rock! I think we may have overdone it, though. The internet, while a great resource for obtaining information and gaining perspective, has ushered in a golden age for the couch potato. Anything you could ever want you can get from the seat of your couch. You don’t have to retain information anymore, you can just google it. You don’t even have to leave the couch to have a social life. Supermarkets have eliminated our connection to our food, to the point that many don’t even regard what their food actually consists of. The effects of these are evident: obesity, a deficit in attention, and general unhappiness.
There is one factor that determines the extent to the amount of these conveniences one can have access to, this factor itself being an implement intended for ease and efficiency. I believe that it is this implement, a tool by design, that began disconnecting us from our basic needs, and set us hurtling down this path towards oblivion like nothing else. This would be the almighty dollar.
It’s not so much in the institution of the monetary system that has driven this wedge between our lives and the necessities for sustaining such, for money is a useful and oftentimes necessary instrument for obtaining these necessities. Especially today. No, the problem is not in the money itself; it is in the false dependence upon it that we have created. We have focused all our energy on the middleman that we have all but lost sight of the reason those Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Babylonians, or whosoever invented it: to facilitate the act of living. Where this should have freed our time and energy to allow humanity to pursue greater and ever-enlightened modes of facilitation toward the betterment of all life on this planet, we have become lost in the novelty of this invention of ours, obsessed with our own cleverness, and turned our focus solely on how to better facilitate the acquiring of the tool. In other words, we strive to facilitate the obtaining of the tool as opposed to endeavoring to further facilitate the life the tool was itself invented to facilitate. We sit around in circles and devise scheme after scheme in order to obtain this money, inflating the market, driving value down and prices to astronomical heights, widening the gap between the lower and upper classes, and all other negative conditions attributed to, and most frequently defined by, some aspect pertaining to money. Sometimes, all this seems to amount to is some rabid, greed-driven race to usurp the planets resources. What we’ve lost sight of, or what many may not even realize, is that these resources are finite, and that all the scratching and clawing and pecking and scarring to gain advantage in this race will only end in nobody’s winning, and everybody’s losing. I try not to worry about it too much, because I know that that will surely come after I’m long gone, and I remain hopeful that we, as a species, can turn it all around at some point. I would like to be able to see the look on everyones faces when it does happen though, I imagine it will be priceless. As for myself, I try only to view and appreciate money for what it actually is; a means, not an end.
I realize that this is unfairly oversimplifying the subject, and that many might not share such a cynical point of view. In reality (as opposed to on the internet), I attempt to pass judgement on a case by case basis, and contrary to how it may appear based on my tone, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt. I think I could have made a decent psychologist, what with my oversimplifying. It seems to me that psychologists fill a niche by providing assistance to those who are either too disorganized or too self-absorbed to be able to obtain a more practical perspective on their particular circumstance or situation in life. I could oversimplify further, however, and state that everyone is disorganized and self-absorbed in one way or another. At any rate, there’s a big market for psychology.
I’ve become a homeowner. At the fresh age of twenty-five, I think I’m way ahead of the game. In the prime of my life I’ve untethered myself from that necessity of obtaining shelter that many of us spend at least a quarter of our monthly earnings in order to obtain. And rent is always climbing through the roof, it seems. Not anymore, suckers! Homeownership is step one to eliminating my dependence on the tool and obtain my livelihood by more direct means. Yes, I realize that my home is a camper. It’s a very nice camper, if I do say so myself. I was able to purchase it outright, which is more to the point. The campground isn’t so bad either, though I don’t know whether I will stay at this particular site or not; there are other, more economical options not too far away. It’s like living in an apartment without having to share walls with anyone. All my belongings fit into a cabinet somewhere or under one of the benches, with room to spare. It would appear that they design these things with ample storage, perhaps not sufficient for a full family, but it could be done, and is done more often than you might care to entertain.
The limited space is conducive towards a more minimalistic sort of lifestyle, a lifestyle I have been attempting to instill in my own life. It isn’t easy, I assure you. I don’t know whether it derives from the course of our evolution or if it is a societal condition, but it seems we are inclined to hold onto things, for no apparent rational or logical reason. I’ll say one thing, though: letting go of things bears a satisfaction all of its own. I find it very relieving to lighten the load every time and again. I recommend you give it a try. Start with your clothing; that, for me, is one area that I seem to have the hardest time whittling down, mainly for silly sentimental reasons, like my mother bought me that shirt or I purchased this shirt while on vacation, even if I never wore it, which is the singular purpose of any article of clothing: to be worn. Take inventory of your closet, and pick out the things that you haven’t worn all season and place them in a box or bag in a corner someplace where you won’t think of them. This way, you won’t actually be getting rid of it, which should set your mind at ease a little. If you don’t go searching for some article of missed clothing, then at some point you will come across these things that are now only taking up space, and you can decide to discard, or donate these clothes (as I would suggest), thereby veritably lightening the load. Right now would be a good time to do this with your winter clothes, as spring seems to have finally beset us!
While I could paint many glamorous portraits of the “tiny-house” lifestyle, there are a few aggravations to living in this camper, and many limitations that I have yet to become accustomed to. I like to cook, and am getting back into the habit I used to have of preparing all my own meals. There is absolutely no counter space in my little kitchen. Sure, there’s a table where I can accomplish all my preparation for the meal, but when cooking, one creates messes and dirty dishes that need to be cleaned at some point following the meal. Well, I don’t have a dishwasher, and my sink is very small. I know that what I need to do is develop the habit of cleaning up after each and every meal, but I confess I haven’t reached that point yet. I have plenty of room to store the dishes I need and all my food stuffs, a little fridge and freezer, and even hung one of those three-tiered baskets on chains for my produce.
One day, not so long ago, I woke up at 5am, eager to start off the day productively by cleaning my dishes. I had been trying to train my body to waking up at this hour, so as to get more accomplished prior to going in to work, primarily getting into the habit of working out again. My older brother tells a story that our father would wake him up as a child by bursting into the room in the morning, shouting “Get up, Abbot! It’s time to grab the day by the throat!” It’s kind of a violent image when you think about it, and I don’t recall ever being woken up to the mantra myself, but that was another life for my father, just as we all seem to be either destined or doomed to live many lives throughout this lifetime.
I filled up my tiny bathtub with hot water and dish soap, for the task before me was far grander than my little sink could handle. It’ll be funny when I actually try to take a bath in this thing myself, it’s so small. That’s bound to happen at some point. Anyway, I set the dishes in the bathtub to soak a bit and laid a towel on the floor outside the bathroom to set the cleaned dishes on to dry, and set to work. Everything was going smoothly, as you’d expect, and I felt rather high on myself to be getting such a job done before the dawn had even broken. It’s like waking up to the sound of yard-work being done somewhere nearby. That’s the sound of accomplishment.
I was nearing the completion of my task, and had only the stoneware from my brand new crock-pot, which I had used earlier in the week to make a rather bland dish of red beans and rice with ground beef (it was my first attempt), when transporting the dish from the tub to the towel it slipped out of my hand and tumbled to the floor, shattering upon impact. I had grown up playing soccer, and became fairly skilled at it before I quit, so usually my reaction time was quick enough for me to be able to at least break the fall of something I had dropped with my foot, but this dish was either too heavy that I subconsciously decided that a broken foot wasn’t worth a sound crock-pot, or my reaction time wasn’t as quick as I thought, first thing in the morning at least. I don’t recall which it was, but I just stood there and watched it fall, and it was as if it was happening in slow motion. I was pissed. I’d only used it once. On top of that, the manufacturer doesn’t even supply replacement stoneware, so I just have to buy a brand new one. That sort of deliberate wastefulness infuriates me, and for very simple reasons, I assure you.
I started gathering the pieces and swept the shards into a pile, picked them up, and stood up far too quickly and struck my head so hard on the produce baskets hanging above me that I broke the skin on my forehead and left a lump that stuck around for three days. I sunk to the floor and cursed the heavens. My former feelings of productivity and accomplishment sat in the trash with the remains of my crock-pot. I had such high hopes and dreams for my life with that crock-pot.
In much happier news, as I realize that tragic story must have taken a toll, my little brother Danny and his girlfriend Tory brought my new little niece, Annalise, into the world April 12th. She’s going to rule this world one day, right alongside my future children. Yes, they will lord over your children, and your children will submit to their will. I hate to break it to you like this, but better rip the band-aid off quickly, so to speak.
There will be many steps on this path I am taking toward my version of carte blanche, this is merely one of the first. I’m not going to give away the other steps I have in mind, mostly because there are too many and ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ll write them here as they come to fruition. The thing to keep in mind is that if there is something you want to do in this life, it’s only a matter in getting in the habit of doing it. Simple enough.