My Money and Me
Recently I received a message from a Myspace stalker who said to me: “…you live through your inheritance without a real job soaking up earth skillsâ€¦ i wouldnt mind trying that inheritance thing out sometimeâ€¦” Despite his insanity and lack of understanding of anything about this project, I still feel on the defensive. I generally try not to care what random assholes think of me. However, to alleviate strangers spreading rumors in the future, I do feel I need to clarify these assumptions surrounding my money and me.
My grandfather worked in the military his whole life. He died at a young age in his 50’s. My grandmother inherited his military pension. Both of my older sisters had student loans from college. My grandmother paid off their loans with her money. They had a privilege lots of people don’t have; relief of debt.
I have made very different decisions in my life than most people. To me, remaining debt-free means I have the “privilege” of simple living. I dropped out of high school when I had aged 16 years. I have resisted societal urges and cultural memes to attend college. Therefore, I don’t have student loan debt. I liken my situation to someone who receives a scholarship to attend school. I have received an inheritance that allows me less grief in following an educational path to rewilding.
I don’t have any debt at all actually. I have never used a credit card. At 25, I have worked and lived easily from wage-slave jobs for almost a decade. I live a very simple life. I work just enough to pay bills and have a little entertainment. I don’t save money. I don’t have health insurance. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I have no children. I live this way less by choice, and more by psychological necessity. I feel suicidal when I work jobs I hate and I feel happier when I can make art and work on projects that have the potential to reconnect people to the land. I have also made some money here and there working on things I enjoy through grants and other fundraising techniques.
Despite cultural and familial messages telling me I need to save for when I retire, I don’t think that far ahead. I can’t. I have to enjoy my life now, not in some distant future, in order to hold onto my sanity. In order to feel sane and enjoy my life “in the now,” I need to work as little as possible, so that I can spend time creating art and rewilding. Anyone could do what I do, if they had the psychology that I have. I cannot work a mindless job without having suicidal thoughts, so I feel this psychology has forced me to steer clear of economic-traps like debt and instead look for and create alternatives rather than live out a depressed life.
I don’t feel anymore privileged than anyone I know (aside from living as a white-male-american, in a white-male-american-centric civilization). I have worked hard, really hard, to get where I stand and have the life I live today. I continue to work hard for it. To say that I live, “without a real job,” does not acknowledge all the work I do to make this life of mine happen. How do you define a “real job?” What I do seems very real to me. It feels like hard work. Work I enjoy, but work none-the-less. I don’t believe that a “real job” excludes enjoyment, but defines itself through enjoyment.
The phrase, “soak up earth skills,” brings images of lazily learning things without any effort; absorbing skills as effortlessly as a sponge absorbs water. I don’t simply lie around and absorb “earth skills” but work very hard to actively create a culture of learning around me at all times. I spend more time working on cultural mentoring, creating the atmosphere of earth skills, so that I can soak them up “effortlessly.” The real effort does not come from learning skills, but creating the space where I can soak them up.
I would have done this project with, or without an inheritance. I have lived this way for a long time; the inheritance just makes things a little easier… for one year. I only use the money to buy food and pay for my phone bill (and recently, bike repairs!). I live rent-free and bill free by the non-monetary reciprocal support of my community of friends and family. If I didn’t have money to buy food, I’d work one day a week and still continue this project. Or I could work my ass off for one month, then live for another year off that money doing the same thing I do now. I imagine when my inherited money runs out next year, I’ll end up doing something like that.
Most of the time I think when people say things like that asshole, what they really mean to say goes something like this, “I feel too fucking scared to do what you do, even though I think it seems really cool, but because I feel scared I’ll find some bullshit excuse like, ‘I don’t have the money.'” This thinking seems like it may stem from someone who does not enjoy their life, but does not know how or does not have the tools to change it so instead they jealously lash out at those who have done what they don’t know how to do.
I hope this clarifies my money and me; I live as a privileged white-american-male, whose privileges as a white-american-male have allowed genetic psychological alleviation at the expense of hard, joyful work in spite of the cultural pull toward debt-induced slavery (AKA indentured servitude), regardless of inherited money which simply makes things easier psychologically for a limited amount of time.
*I wrote this blog in E-prime.*
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