Today I did something that I have learned to loath. I checked our share balances. I wish that I hadn’t.
You know, if I were rich (uh-huh) and I lost half of it, sure, I’d be mildly upset. However, I’d still have a lot left over; probably enough, if I started out rich enough. But when you are most definitely not rich and you lose half of it, you start thinking crazy thoughts.
As if that’s not enough, we’re getting old. I don’t mean like ancient, just about mandatory retirement age. Well, we all know that someday, that system is going to fall down and go boom. The world simply isn’t going to operate properly with a huge percentage of its population propping its feet up at 65 and saying, “Okay, I did my bit. Now keep me happy while I waste away doing nothing.” Nope, that duck’s not going to fly. Work until retirement is going to quickly change to work until death.
However, in the now of it, since we are getting a little long in the tooth, the supporters that have proclaimed for decades what swell folk we are and what a great job we’re doing are getting decidedly tight-fisted. Financial support for our work is roughly a third of what it was ten years ago. How many of you are getting by on a third of what you earned ten years ago. Comfy, are we? I think not.
Anyway, I’m not here to complain, but to tell you about the wild thinking that goes through one’s mind when contemplating the end of money. I’ll show you a guy who claims to live quite happily with no money at all.
You can decide if you believe it – the no money part, the happy part, or either (or maybe both).
Daniel Suelo lives in a cave near Moab, Utah in the great, wacky vastness of the American West. Here is a picture of Daniel in his cozy little cave:
Isn’t he cute? He looks like a little pack-rat all curled up in his midden. Daniel is an Anthropologist, which explains a lot. I picked up some very strange notions while studying Anthropology at UNI. Some of this mental mushiness has stayed with me to this day. Fortunately, I never discovered a way to make a living at it, a characteristic that Daniel and I seem to share.
Daniel keeps a blog of sorts here. It’s full of . . . uh . . . I don’t know what it is, precisely. There is religious symbolism and discussion – witness the Eight-fold Path dogma from Buddhism, familiar to me from my brief, enlightening and consciousness expanding foray into Zen (yes, there is a correct answer to the question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”:
And, not wanting to short-change a potential world-view, he gives equal time to Jesus delivering a thorough thrashing to the money changers:
The blog makes for amusing, if mystifying reading. Oddly, it’s not entirely clear to me exactly how he manages to live without money. Though there anecdotes aplenty, there is little practical information to help me through the transition from lightly-moneyed to moneyless. This is sad, because I’m going to be sorely in need of practical advice for the poverty-stricken sooner than later.
I was particularly intrigued by the story of the lady who walked up to the filthy stranger (Daniel’s words, not mine) and said that she wanted to share her breakfast with him. Poor Daniel was a bit put off when she handed him four bucks. He seemed to be hoping for something a bit more, uh . . . humane. However, she walked away and he was left scratching his head because he does not receive money. (I’m going to send him my address forthwith. As soon as I figure out how to get mail delivered to his cave.) So, Daniel left the four bucks on the park bench and strolled off. This is not helpful advice.
Daniel’s blog is accompanied by his web site entitled Living Without Money.
The site is full of very true and seemingly pertinent information, such as:
Money is not a material substance.
Money is a belief in the head.
Money is a shared belief of two or more people. A German mark is nothing but a piece of paper with pretty pictures on it to a Yanomamo in the Amazon jungle. The Yanomamo sees it with the eyes of reality. Both the buyer and the seller must believe in money.
Money is credit.
Credit is belief.
Again, not very helpful to me. It’s like a doctor who explains to you in great detail precisely why you are dying. It may be enlightening, but it’s not particularly useful.
I found the FAQ section of the site slightly more informative and full of potentially helpful information. However, nursing on a fifteen year old single malt Scotch while contemplating dumpster-diving and wolfing down road kill is not an exercise that I recommend.
Please, I’m begging here, if anybody wades through all of this and comes up with a workable plan for living without money that doesn’t involve deprivation on this scale, please send me your wisdom. Address it to:
#1 Cave on Nob Nob Mountain
Papua New Guinea
UPDATE: When I got home last evening, I was horrified when the thought occurred to me that I may have slandered some very faithful people. We do have several financial supporters who have hung with us for nearly three decades and show no signs of bailing. Those who have left the ship have had their reasons. Those who are hanging onto the railings and singing hymns as she sinks deserve to be noted for their trust and tenacity, not to mention their continued personal sacrifice in troubled financial times. I say, “God bless ’em.” They are keeping us on the job.