Friday, 10 December 2010

True Self-Expression; Nas - What Goes Around

Nas Escobar, the dark skinned wizard of ages.
Listened to this on the train the other day; the accuracy of it has an Orwellian uncanny-quality to it...
Video at the bottom.

[Chorus]
Ayo its poison, ecstasy, coke
You say its love, it is poison
Schools where I learned they should be burned, it is poison
Physicians prescripting us medicine which is poison
Doctors injecting our infants with the poison
Religion misoverstood is poison

[Verse 1]
Niggas up in my hood be getting shot giving poison
In hospitals, shots rittle the block
Little children and elderly women run for their lives
Drizzling rain come out the sky every time somebody dies,
Must be out my fucking mind, what is this, the hundredth time?
Sending flowers to funerals, reading rest in peace
You know the usual, death comes in threes
Life is short is what some nigga said
Not if you measure life by how one lives and what he did
Its funny how these black killer companies is making money off us
Fast food, colas, sodas skull and bone crossers

[Chorus]

[Verse 2]
Sisters up in my hood trying to do good given choices
When pregnant drop out of school or have abortions
Stop working hoping that they find a man that will support them
Up late night on they mothers cordless, thinking a perm or
Bleaching cream will make better when they gorgeous
White girls tanning, lypo suction
Fake titties are implanted, fake lips thats life destruction
Lightskin women, bi-racial hateful toward themselves
Denying even they blood

I don't judge Tiger Woods but I overstand the mental poison
Thats even worser than drugs

[Chorus]

[Verse 3]
Radio and TV poison, white Jesus poison
And any thoughts of taking me down is poison
Who want beef now, my heat shell anoint them, plaow

[Talking]
Never to worry, all the wrong doers got it coming back to em
A thousand times over
Every dog has its day and everything flips around
Even the most greatest nation in the world has it coming back to em
Everyone reaps what they sew that's how it goes
Innocent lives will be taken, it may get worse but we'll get through it
You all be strong

[Verse 4]
The China-men built the railroad
The Indians saved the Pilgrim
And in return the Pilgrim killed em
They call it it Thanksgiving, I call your holiday hellday

Cause I'm from poverty, neglected by the wealthy
Me and my niggas share gifts every day like Christmas
Slay bitches and party everyday like this is the last
I'm with my heckles connecting and we hitting the lad
This is my level, fuck if it get you mad
It's all poison, all of my words to enemies it is poison
Rappers only talk about ki's, its all poison
How could you call yourself emcees you ain't poison
Think about the kids you mislead with the poison
And any thoughts of taking me down is all poison
Who want beef now, my heat shell anoint them, plaow

[Hook]
What goes around comes around my nigga
And what goes up it must come down my nigga
The soldiers found below the ground my nigga
Just hold it down we older now my nigga
What goes around comes around my nigga
And what goes up it must come down my nigga
The soldiers found below the ground my nigga
Just hold it down we older now my nigga

[Verse 5]
This nigga Ike with the Iverson jersey
Light skin with herpees
Fuckin' sisters in Harlem, Brooklyn and D.C.
This is the problem cause he never tell em he got it
From letting fags suck him off Rikers Island in nine-three
Drives in Benz, hangs in all the parties
All the concerts, backstage where the stars be
Rocking their shirts in bitches faces like clockwork
Whats your name, where you from, chain blinging
Thinking girls everywheres dumb
, taking powder ruining their lives
So they could never have babies, and they could never be wives
He never used a condom, give him head he got ya
Met the wrong bitch and now he dead from the monster AIDs
I contemplate, believing in karma
Those on top could just break and wont be eating tomorrow

I know some bitches who be sleeping on niggas dreams
They leave when they nigga blow she the first bitch on her knees
Knowing dudes thats neglecting their seeds
Instead of taking care of em they spending money on trees
I pray for you deadbeat daddies
Cause when them kids get grown its too late for you
Now you old and you getting shitted on
Its all scientific, mystic, you know the Earth and the stars
Don't hesitate to say you heard it from Nas
What is destined shall be
George Bush killer till George Bush kills me
Much blessings be healthy, remember

[Hook]


Anarcho-Spirituality; Will Smith talks about being an Alchemist

Will Smith is on it.

Do I trust him? I don't know.

But he and his family are one massive resumé of credentials and achievements the world over.

It's worth hunting out the full interview, just to see how driven this man really is...


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

True Self-Expression; Free Psytrance Music




Came across this dude's Youtube channel, Graveyard Guardian - tons of free psytrance music that you can stream. Well worth a look,

Enjoy,

Anarcho-Spirituality; Guerilla Psychonautics with Neil Kramer

Came across this the other day, and AT LAST! Someone who is finally sumarising what it is to be awakened and then the life that you live therein.

Enjoy,



This is the video in its entirety, as a playlist...

Update; December

Mwahahahhh!!!

Where to begin??

Well, first for the update, both of the Pioneers are well and on a deep path towards self-discovery.

From here on in, the blog seems like it will be taking a little more of a turn towards things of an Esoteric nature.

Both of us are on that tip, and want to share it with you, and those who are interested.

Future plans include travels to Canada in 2011...another combined Hazardous Mission!

Hope you enjoy what's coming...

Salam

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; 'Low-Income Houses from Recycled Goods' Video

Check this dude out....

On it!


Part 1:



Part 2:



Part 3:



Lessons:

1. DEMONSTRATION - Live by Example

2. ADVOCACY - Find 'The Others'

3. CREATIVITY - Design and Create!

Update; September

So, the Hazardous Pioneers are both back from their travels, and in the UK.

Ultimately, the current plan is to work towards a self-built, Hazardous Pioneers Complex.
That begins with buying land, a mission we are currently on.

So, posts from now on, might take a bit of a shift towards sustainability / house-building / self-build kinda stuff, along with the other bits and pieces that we come across and find interesting.

We have both decided that we have spent enough time developing our left-brains. The last 20 or so years have been dedicated to that.
Now we want to progress our right-brains, and have concluded that in order to do so, we first need our own land and property to be able to start exploring these realms.

Most people on this planet, leave life with their house and property, spending a life time to earn it, and even so, it's not always 100% theirs.
Well, we have figured that our starting point is going to be where everyone else seems to finish.
Just think of the possible realms of exploration - we know all the stages of life that lead up to having something/somewhere that you can call 'yours'. But what about what happens after that? Most people will never know, but we have decided that this is where our real journey of living begins.

So sit tight, as we'll try to feature as much as we can on here, all be it more esoteric and 'right brain' in nature,

Enjoy,

HPs

Urban and Wild Survival; Double Chamber Cob Oven Video

Check this badboy out - a 'double chamber cob oven' - Yeah, get your pizza on.

Knowledge; 'Revenge of the Introvert'

Looking through Ran Prieur's site earlier, and came across this article.

This part really caught my attention:

To Hell With Happiness

In the united states, people rank happiness as their most important goal. That view has a special impact on introverts. Happiness is not always their top priority; they don't need external rewards to keep their brains in high gear. In fact, the pursuit of happiness may represent another personality-culture clash for them.

In a series of studies in which subjects were presented with an effortful task such as taking a test, thinking rationally, or giving a speech, introverts did not choose to invoke happy feelings, reports Boston College psychologist Maya Tamir. They preferred to maintain a neutral emotional state. Happiness, an arousing emotion, may be distracting for introverts during tasks. By contrast, extraverts reported a preference to feel "happy," "up," or "enthusiastic" and to recall happy memories while approaching or completing the tasks.

At this year's meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Tamir, along with Iris Mauss of the University of Denver, presented a paper entitled, "Come On, Get Happy: The Ironic Effects of the Pursuit of Happiness." The two did not specifically study introverts or extraverts. What they discovered is that, for all people, the pressure to be happy actually reduces happiness.

"We found that when we prime people to value happiness more, they become more unhappy and depressed," reports Mauss. "Our findings offer an intriguing explanation for the vexing paradox that even in the face of objectively positive life circumstances, nations generally do not become happier."

Friday, 27 August 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; 'How to Live the Simple Life; Part 1'


A good friend of mine sent me this link to the BBC's latest project 'How to Live the Simple Life'.

In Episode 1, there are a number of good points raised.

'This could be a way forward for everyone' states the presenter. I think that's true, eventually. However, he is experimenting from a villager's lifestyle where the element of community is already quite prevalent. Do you think his statement could apply as easily to someone living in the city?

I recommend watching this. It will pop a lot of questions in to your head, so see what you get from it.

This is the path that Hazardous John and myself are now committing ourselves to, and in the near future, there will be a lot more on the subject of Simple Living within the realms of Urban and Wild Survival.

Enjoy,

Monday, 16 August 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; In Support of 'Co-Evolution'

Via Ran Prieur's site, I came across this.

It's an article that supports the practice of Co-Evolution; something which has been shunting the old theories of evolution and competition from out of the limelight.


Old MacDonald Had A Farmers’ Market –
total self-sufficiency is a noble, misguided ideal

By Bill McKibben

Generations of college freshmen, asked to read Walden, have sputtered with indignation when they learned that Henry David went back to Concord for dinner with his family every week or two. He’s cheating; his grand experiment is a fraud. This outrage is a useful tactic; it prevents them from having to grapple with the most important (and perhaps the most difficult) book in the American canon, one that asks impossibly searching questions about the emptiness of a consumer economy, the vacuity of an information-soaked era. But it also points to something else: Thoreau, our apostle of solitary, individual self-reliance, out in his cabin with his hoe and his beans, the most determinedly asocial man of his time — nonetheless was immersed in his community to a degree few people today can comprehend.

Consider the sheer number of people who happened to drop by the cabin of an obscure eccentric. “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society,” he writes. Often more visitors came than could sit — sometimes twenty or thirty at a time. “Half-witted men from the almshouse,” busybodies who “pried into my cupboard and bed when I was out,” a French-Canadian woodchopper, a runaway slave “whom I helped to forward toward the north star,” doctors, lawyers, the old and infirm and the timid, the self-styled reformers. It’s not that Thoreau was necessarily a cheerful host — there were visitors “who did not know when their visit had terminated, though I went about my business again, answering them from greater and greater remoteness.” Instead, it was simply a visiting age — as most of human history has been a visiting age, and every human culture a visiting culture.

Until ours. I doubt if many people reading these words have had a spontaneous visit from a neighbor in the past week — less than a fifth of Americans report visiting regularly with friends and neighbors, and the percentage is declining steadily. The number of close friends that an American claims has dropped steadily for the last fifty years too; three-quarters of us don’t know our next-door neighbors. Even the people who share our houses are becoming strangers: The Wall Street Journal reported recently that “major builders and top architects are walling off space. They’re touting one-person ‘internet alcoves,’ locked-door ‘away rooms,’ and his-and-her offices on opposite ends of the house.” The new floor plans, says the director of research for the National Association of Home Builders, are “good for the dysfunctional family.” Or, as another executive put it, these are the perfect homes for “families that don’t want anything to do with one another.” Compared to these guys, Thoreau with his three-chair cabin was practically Martha Stewart.

Every culture has its pathologies, and ours is self-reliance. From some mix of our frontier past, our Little House on the Prairie heritage, our Thoreauvian desire for solitude, and our amazing wealth we’ve derived a level of independence never seen before on this round earth. We’ve built an economy where we need no one else; with a credit card, you can harvest the world’s bounty from the privacy of your room. And we’ve built a culture much the same — the dream houses those architects build, needless to say, come with a plasma screen in every room. As long as we can go on earning good money in our own tiny niche, we don’t need a helping hand from a soul — save, of course, from the invisible hand that cups us all in its benign grip.

There are a couple of problems with this fine scenario, of course. One is: we’re miserable. Reported levels of happiness and life-satisfaction are locked in long-term one-way declines, almost certainly because of this lack of connection. Does this sound subjective and airy? Find one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t belong to anything and convince them to join a church, a softball league, a bird-watching group. In the next year their mortality — the risk that they will die in the next year — falls by half.

The other trouble is that our self-reliance is actually a reliance on cheap fossil fuel and the economy it’s built. Take that away — either because we start to run out of oil, or because global warming forces us to stop using it in current quantities — and our vaunted independence will start to lurch like a Hummer with four flat tires. Just think for a moment about that world and then decide if you want to live on an acre all your own in the outermost ring of suburbs.

The idea of self-reliance is so deep in our psyches, however, that even when we attempt to escape from the unhappy and unsustainable cul-de-sac of our society, we’re likely to turn toward yet more “independence.” The “back-to-the-land” movement, for instance, often added the words “by myself.” Think about how proudly a certain kind of person talks about his “off-the-grid” life — he makes his own energy and grows his own food, he can deal with whatever the world throws at him. One such person may be left-wing in politics (√† la Scott and Helen Nearing); another may be conservative. But they are united in their lack of need for the larger world. Not even to school their kids — they’ll take care of that as well.

Such folks are admirable, of course — they have a wide variety of skills now missing in most Americans; they’re able to amuse themselves; they work hard. But as an ideal, especially an economic ideal, that radical self-reliance strikes me as being almost as empty as the consumer society from which it dissents. Consider, for instance, the idea of growing all your own food. It’s clearly better than relying on food from thousands of miles away — from our current industrialized food economy, which figures “it’s always summer somewhere” and so orders take-out from that distant field every night of the year. Compared with that, an enormous garden and a root cellar full of all you’ll need for the winter is virtue incarnate. But if you believe in many of the (entirely plausible) horror stories about what’s to come — peak oil, climate change — then the world ends with you standing shotgun in hand above your vegetable patch, protecting your carrots from the poaching urban horde.

Contrast that with another vision, one taking shape in at least a few places around the country: a matrix of small farmers growing food for their local areas. Farmers’ markets are the fastest-growing part of our food economy, with sales showing double-digit growth annually. Partly that’s because people want good food (all kinds of people: immigrants and ethnic Americans tend to be the most avid farmers’ market shoppers). And partly it’s because they want more company. One team of sociologists reported recently that shoppers at farmers’ markets engaged in ten times more conversations per visit than customers in supermarkets. I spent the past winter eating only from my valley; a little of the food I grew myself, but the idea of my experiment was to see what remained of the agricultural infrastructure that had once supported this place. And the payoff was not only a delicious six months, but also a deep network of new friends, a much stronger sense of the cultural geography of my place.

Or consider energy. Since the 1970s, a particular breed of noble ex-hippie has been building “off-the-grid” homes, often relying on solar panels. This has been important work — they’ve figured out many of the techniques and technologies that we desperately need to get free of our climate change predicament. But the most exciting new gadget is a home-scale inverter, one that allows you to send the power your rooftop generates down the line instead of down into the basement. Where the isolated system has a stack of batteries, the grid-tied solar panel uses the whole region’s electric system as its battery: my electric meter spins merrily backward all afternoon because while the sun shines I’m a utility; then at night I draw from somewhere else. It’s a two-way flow, in the same way that the internet allows ideas to bounce in many directions.

You can do the same kind of calculation with almost any commodity. Music doesn’t need to come from Nashville or Hollywood on a small disc, for instance. But you don’t have to produce it all yourself either. More fun to join with the neighbors, to make music together or to listen to the local stars. A hundred years ago, Iowa had 1,300 opera houses. Radio doesn’t need to come from the ClearChannel headquarters in some Texas office park; new low-power FM lets valleys make their own. Even currency can become a joint local project — all it takes is the trust that underwrites any system of money. In hundreds of communities, people are trying to build that trust locally, with money that only works within the region.

Thinking this way won’t be easy. We’re used to independence as the prime virtue — so used to it that three quarters of American Christians believe the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” comes from the Bible, instead of Ben Franklin. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is harder advice, but sweeter and more sage. We don’t need to live on communes (though more and more old people are finding themselves enrolling in “retirement communities” that are gray-haired, upscale versions). But we will, I think, need to figure out how to stop relying on both oil and ourselves, and instead learn the lesson that the other primates and the other human cultures never forgot: we’re built to rely on each other.

.....

Bill McKibben is a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College and the author of many books, including Enough, Wandering Home, The End of Nature, Hundred Dollar Holiday, and, most recently, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; 'Realities of Going Primitive' - Brent Ladd

Realities of Going Primitive - Brent Ladd

I recommend reading this dude's brief account of what the last couple of years have been like for hime since taking the plunge in to the 'wilderness way of life'.

Here's an excerpt;

"Another aspect I have noticed is my change in sense of time. I am relaxed and not hurrying around to beat the clock.

As I have slowed down, it appears that there is more time! A wonderful paradox, isn't it? I think less of the future and live more in the present moment. Time seems to have opened up and blossomed-expanded if you will. I feel more into the natural flow of life. This too is a part of freedom, I believe.

Living in the present moment isn't something I have consciously tried to accomplish, but is gradually and naturally occurring the longer I am in the woods.
"

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Knowledge; The Difference: Living Well VS Doing Well

Words of Wisdom from the Pottmeister, Rolf Potts.

If you want the article with the bold-texts added in, plus a list of resources, click here.

Total post read time: 5 minutes.

“From all your herds, a cup or two of milk,
From all your granaries, a loaf of bread,
In all your palace, only half a bed:
Can man use more? And do you own the rest?”
– Ancient Sanskrit poem



Living well is quite different from “doing well.”

In the quest to get ahead — destination often unknown — it’s easy to have life pass you by while you’re focused on other things. This post is intended as a reminder and a manifesto: keep it simple.


This is written by Rolf Potts, author of my perennial favorite and heavily highlighted Vagabonding. In the below piece, I’ve bolded some particular parts that have had an impact on my life.

Enter Rolf.

###

In March of 1989, the Exxon Valdez struck a reef off the coast of Alaska, resulting in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Initially viewed as an ecological disaster, this catastrophe did wonders to raise environmental awareness among average Americans. As television images of oil-choked sea otters and dying shore birds were beamed across the country, pop-environmentalism grew into a national craze.

Instead of conserving more and consuming less, however, many Americans sought to save the earth by purchasing “environmental” products. Energy-efficient home appliances flew off the shelves, health food sales boomed, and reusable canvas shopping bags became vogue in strip malls from Jacksonville to Jackson Hole. Credit card companies began to earmark a small percentage of profits for conservation groups, thus encouraging consumers to “help the environment” by striking off on idealistic shopping binges.

Such shopping sprees and health food purchases did absolutely nothing to improve the state of the planet, of course — but most people managed to feel a little better about the situation without having to make any serious lifestyle changes.

This notion — that material investment is somehow more important to life than personal investment — is exactly what leads so many of us to believe we could never afford to go vagabonding. The more our life options get paraded around as consumer options, the more we forget that there’s a difference between the two. Thus, having convinced ourselves that buying things is the only way to play an active role in the world, we fatalistically conclude that we’ll never be rich enough to purchase a long-term travel experience.

Fortunately, the world need not be a consumer product. As with environmental integrity, long-term travel isn’t something you buy into: it’s something you give to yourself.

Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level, but through simplicity — the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.

And, contrary to popular stereotypes, seeking simplicity doesn’t require that you become a monk, a subsistence forager, or a wild-eyed revolutionary. Nor does it mean that you must unconditionally avoid the role of consumer. Rather, simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.

“Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief.”
– John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

Jack Kerouac’s legacy as a cultural icon is a good example of this. Arguably the most famous American vagabonder of the 20th century, Kerouac vividly captured the epiphanies of hand-to-mouth travel in books like On the Road and Lonesome Traveler. In Dharma Bums, he wrote about the joy of living with people who blissfully ignore “the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want…general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume.”

Despite his observance of material simplicity, however, Kerouac found that his personal life – the life that had afforded him the freedom to travel – was soon overshadowed by a more fashionable (and marketable) public vision of his travel lifestyle. Convertible cars, jazz records, marijuana (and, later, Gap khakis), ultimately came to represent the mystical “It” that he and Neal Cassidy sought in On the Road. As his Beat cohort William S. Burroughs was to point out years after his death, part of Kerouac’s mystique became inseparable from the idea that he “opened a million coffee bars and sold a million pairs of Levi’s to both sexes.”

In some ways, of course, coffee bars, convertibles and marijuana are all part of what made travel appealing to Kerouac’s readers. That’s how marketing (intentional and otherwise) works. But these aren’t the things that made travel possible for Kerouac. What made travel possible was that he knew how neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own. Even the downtrodden souls on the fringes of society, he observed, had something the rich didn’t: Time.

This notion – the notion that “riches” don’t necessarily make you wealthy – is as old as society itself. The ancient Hindu Upanishads refer disdainfully to “that chain of possessions wherewith men bind themselves, and beneath which they sink”; ancient Hebrew scriptures declare that “whoever loves money never has money enough.” Jesus noted that it’s pointless for a man to “gain the whole world, yet lose his very self”, and the Buddha whimsically pointed out that seeking happiness in one’s material desires is as absurd as “suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangoes.”

Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion – an insanity of consensus, if you will – to get rich from life rather than live richly, to “do well” in the world instead of living well. And, in spite of the fact that America is famous for its unhappy rich people, most of us remain convinced that just a little more money will set life right. In this way, the messianic metaphor of modern life becomes the lottery – that outside chance that the right odds will come together to liberate us from financial worries once and for all.

“Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing…”
– Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”

Fortunately, we were all born with winning tickets – and cashing them in is a simple matter of altering our cadence as we walk through the world. Vagabonding sage Ed Buryn knew as much: “By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. Dig?”

Dug. And the bonus to all of this is that – as you of sow your future with rich fields of time – you are also planting the seeds of personal growth that will gradually bloom as you travel into the world.

* * *

In a way, simplifying your life for vagabonding is easier than it sounds. This is because travel by its very nature demands simplicity. If you don’t believe this, just go home and try stuffing everything you own into a backpack. This will never work, because no matter how meagerly you live at home, you can’t match the scaled-down minimalism that travel requires. You can, however, set the process of reduction and simplification into motion while you’re still at home. This is useful on several levels: Not only does it help you to save up travel money, but it helps you realize how independent you are of your possessions and your routines. In this way, it prepares you mentally for the realities of the road, and makes travel a dynamic extension of the life-alterations you began at home.

“Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: On the road, we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear” — disruption, in other words, (or emancipation) from circumstance, and all the habits behind which we hide.
– Pico Iyer, “Why We Travel”

As with, say, giving up coffee, simplifying your life will require a somewhat difficult consumer withdrawal period. Fortunately, your impending travel experience will give you a very tangible and rewarding long-term goal that helps ease the discomfort. Over time, as you reap the sublime rewards of simplicity, you’ll begin to wonder how you ever put up with such a cluttered life in the first place.

On a basic level, there are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter. The easiest part of this process is stopping expansion. This means that – in anticipation of vagabonding – you don’t add any new possessions to your life, regardless of how tempting they might seem. Naturally, this applies to things like cars and home entertainment systems, but this also applies to travel accessories. Indeed, one of the biggest mistakes people make in anticipation of vagabonding is to indulge in a vicarious travel buzz by investing in water filters, sleeping bags, and travel-boutique wardrobes. In reality, vagabonding runs smoothest on a bare minimum of gear – and even multi-year trips require little initial investment beyond sturdy footwear and a dependable travel bag or backpack.

While you’re curbing the material expansion of your life, you should also take pains to rein in the unnecessary expenses of your weekly routine. Simply put, this means living more humbly (even if you aren’t humble) and investing the difference into your travel fund. Instead of eating at restaurants, for instance, cook at home and pack a lunch to work or school. Instead of partying at nightclubs and going out to movies or pubs, entertain at home with friends or family. Wherever you see the chance to eliminate an expensive habit, take it. The money you save as a result will pay handsomely in travel time. In this way, I ate lot of baloney sandwiches (and missed out on a lot of grunge-era Seattle nightlife) while saving up for a vagabonding stint after college — but the ensuing eight months of freedom on the roads of North America more than made up for it.

“Very many people spend money in ways quite different from those that their natural tastes would enjoin, merely because the respect of their neighbors depends upon their possession of a good car and their ability to give good dinners. As a matter of fact, any man who can obviously afford a car but genuinely prefers travels or a good library will in the end be much more respected than if he behaved exactly like everyone else.”
– Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Perhaps the most challenging step in keeping things simple is to reduce clutter – to downsize what you already own. As Thoreau observed, downsizing can be the most vital step in winning the freedom to change your life: “I have in my mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all,” he wrote in Walden, “who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or sliver fetters.”

How you reduce your “dross” in anticipation of travel will depend on your situation. If you’re young, odds are you haven’t accumulated enough to hold you down (which, incidentally, is a big reason why so many vagabonders tend to be young). If you’re not-so-young, you can re-create the carefree conditions of youth by jettisoning the things that aren’t necessary to your basic well-being. For much of what you own, garage sales and on-line auctions can do wonders to unclutter your life (and score you an extra bit of cash to boot). Homeowners can win their travel freedom by renting out their houses; those who rent accommodation can sell, store, or lend out the things that might bind them to one place.

An additional consideration in life-simplification is debt. As Laurel Lee wryly observed in Godspeed, “cities are full of those who have been caught in monthly payments for avocado green furniture sets.” Thus, if at all possible, don’t let avocado green furniture sets (or any other seemingly innocuous indulgence) dictate the course of your life by forcing you into ongoing cycles of production and consumption. If you’re already in debt, work your way out of it – and stay out. If you have a mortgage or other long-term debt, devise a situation (such as property rental) that allows you to be independent of its obligations for long periods of time. Being free from debt’s burdens simply gives you more vagabonding options.

And, for that matter, more life options.

* * *

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”

As you simplify your life and look forward to spending your new wealth of time, you’re likely to get a curious reaction from your friends and family. On one level, they will express enthusiasm for your impending adventures. But on another level, they might take your growing freedom as a subtle criticism of their own way of life. Because your fresh worldview might appear to call their own values into question (or, at least, force them to consider those values in a new light), they will tend to write you off as irresponsible and self-indulgent. Let them. As I’ve said before, vagabonding is not an ideology, a balm for societal ills, nor a token of social status. Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking – and its goal is not to improve your life in relation to your neighbors, but in relation to yourself. Thus, if your neighbors consider your travels foolish, don’t waste your time trying to convince them otherwise. Instead, the only sensible reply is to quietly enrich your life with the myriad opportunities that vagabonding provides.

Interestingly, some of the harshest responses I’ve received in reaction to my vagabonding life have come while traveling. Once, at Armageddon (the site in Israel; not the battle at the end of the world), I met an American aeronautical engineer who was so tickled he had negotiated 5 days of free time into a Tel Aviv consulting trip that he spoke of little else as we walked through the ruined city. When I eventually mentioned that I’d been traveling around Asia for the past 18 months, he looked at me like I’d slapped him. “You must be filthy rich,” he said acidly. “Or maybe,” he added, giving me the once-over, “your mommy and daddy are.”

I tried to explain how two years of teaching English in Korea had funded my freedom, but the engineer would have none of it. Somehow, he couldn’t accept that two years of any kind of honest work could have funded 18 months (and counting) of travel. He didn’t even bother sticking around for the real kicker: In those 18 months of travel, my day-to-day costs were significantly cheaper than day-to-day life would have cost me back in the United States.

The secret to my extraordinary thrift was neither secret nor extraordinary: I had tapped into that vast well of free time simply by forgoing a few comforts as I traveled. Instead of luxury hotels, I slept in clean, basic hostels and guesthouses. Instead of flying from place to place, I took local buses, trains, and share-taxis. Instead of dining at fancy restaurants, I ate food from street-vendors and local cafeterias. Occasionally, I traveled on foot, slept out under the stars, and dined for free at the stubborn insistence of local hosts.

In what ultimately amounted to over two years of travel in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, my lodging averaged out to just under $5 a night, my meals cost well under $1 a plate, and my total expenses rarely exceeded $1000 a month.

“When I was very young a big financier once asked me what I would like to do, and I said, ‘To travel.’ ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘it is very expensive; one must have a lot of money to do that.’ He was wrong. For there are two kinds of travelers; the Comfortable Voyager, round whom a cloud of voracious expenses hums all the time, and the man who shifts for himself and enjoys the little discomforts as a change from life’s routine.”
– Ralph Bagnold, Libyan Sands

Granted, I have simple tastes – and I didn’t linger long in expensive places – but there was nothing exceptional in the way I traveled. In fact, entire multi-national backpacker circuits (not to mention budget guidebook publishing empires) have been created by the simple abundance of such travel bargains in the developing world. For what it costs to fill your gas-tank back home, for example you can take a train from one end of China to the other. For the cost of a home-delivered pepperoni pizza, you can eat great meals for a week in Brazil. And, for a month’s rent in any major American city, you can spend a year in a beach hut in Indonesia. Moreover, even the industrialized parts of the world host enough hostel networks, bulk transportation discounts, and camping opportunities make long-term travel affordable.

Ultimately, you may well discover that vagabonding on the cheap becomes your favorite way to travel, even if given more expensive options. Indeed, not only does simplicity save you money and buy you time, it makes you more adventuresome, forces you into sincere contact with locals, and allows you the independence to follow your passions and curiosities down exciting new roads.

In this way, simplicity – both at home and on the road – affords you the time to seek renewed meaning in an oft-neglected commodity that can’t be bought at any price: life itself

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; Tiny House Jam Sesh

A rad cabin jam man!


Urban and Wild Survival; Tiny House Tour Round 2

A Tiny House Tour; Round 2

Urban and Wild Survival; Tiny House Interview Video

Derek Diedricksen contacted me yesterday and said that he just posted a new video of an interview he shot in Florida with Alex Pino, the person behind Tiny House Talk.

Derek publishes a blog called Relaxshax’s Blog and has been producing a show on YouTube called Tiny Yellow House. Alex tells a little background information on how he got started blogging about the tiny house movement and says he has a tiny house ebook on the way that will contain resource and reference information on tiny houses.


Knowledge; Techno-Addicts

An article about Dopamine release and its relation to Technology -

Originally from here.


When we think of addiction, most of us think of alcoholism or drug abuse. But the easy access, anonymity, and constant availability of the Internet, email, texting, chatting and twittering has led to a new form of compulsive and dependent behavior - techno-addicts. The same neural pathways in the brain that reinforce dependence on substances can reinforce compulsive technology behaviors that are just as addictive and potentially destructive. Almost anything that we like to do - eat, shop, gamble, have sex - contain the potential for psychological and physiological dependence.

Whether we're watching TV, playing an interactive video game, or simply searching online for an old movie title, our brains and other organs automatically react to the monitor's rapidly changing, staccato stimuli: heart rate slows, brain blood vessels dilate, and blood flows away from major muscles. As we continue staring at the screen, this physical reaction helps our brains focus on the incoming mental stimuli, and the constant flow of visual stimuli can shift our orienting responses into overdrive. Eventually, however, rather than continued mental stimulation, we begin to experience fatigue. After a computer or video marathon, our concentration abilities often decline, and many people report a sense of depletion - as if the energy has been "sucked out of them." Despite these side effects, computers and the Internet are hard to resist, and our brains can get hooked rapidly - especially young ones. Sales of video games world-wide are stronger than ever.

Self-proclaimed Internet addicts report feeling a pleasurable mood burst or "rush" from simply booting up their computer, let alone visiting their favorite websites - just as shopping addicts get a thrill from scanning sale ads, putting their credit cards in their wallets, and setting out on a spending spree. These feelings of euphoria, even before the actual acting out of the addiction occurs, are linked to brain chemical changes that control behaviors ranging from a seductive psychological draw to a full-blown addiction. The brain-wiring system that controls these responses involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, a brain messenger that modulates all sorts of activities involving reward, feeling good, exploration and punishment.

Dopamine is responsible for the euphoria that addicts chase, whether they get it from methamphetamine, alcohol, or Internet gambling. The addict becomes conditioned to compulsively seek, crave and recreate the sense of elation while off-line or off-drug. Whether it's knocking back a few whiskeys or betting on the horses, dopamine transmits messages to the brain's pleasure centers causing addicts to want to repeat those actions - over and over again, even if the addict is no longer experiencing the original pleasure and is aware of negative consequences.

The mental reward stimulation of the dopamine system is a powerful pull that non-addicts feel as well. Studies of volunteers enrapt in addictive video games show that gamers continue to play on despite multiple attempts to distract them. The dopamine system allows them to tolerate noise and discomfort extremely well. Previous research has shown that both eating and sexual activity drive up dopamine levels. Even checking email can become a compulsive behavior that's hard to stop.

It is not the technology itself that is addictive, but rather the specific application-of-choice. People can get hooked on Internet searching, online dating, Web shopping, porn sites, on-line gambling, or even checking their email. Even if you are not addicted to the Internet or any other technology, you may be struggling with its enticement.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

True Self-Expression; Lucylovescrafts.blogspot.com


Lu's handmade driftwood stall


This tale of success and creativity begins here, in Queenstown, New Zealand. This is my second week here, and last Saturday saw the manifestation of something very inspiring.

Let yourself become immersed in what you’re about to learn…

Craig and Lucy are a couple I can now proudly call “my friends”. Hailing from Devon, back home in the UK, they have been travelling around NZ in a ‘HiAce’ Campervan for the last 5 months – an impressive effort, considering neither has attacked one another regardless of such a confined space! Remarkable!

To top that however, is not only their chilled vibes and willingness for new adventures and experiences, but Lucy’s ability to create. Creating crafts – of all shapes and sizes – now seems to come second nature to Lucy; so much so, she and Craig taught me how to create something of my own – a privilege, I must say.



Each shell has a hand-written label attached telling you its origin




The reason I’m writing about this is for two very relevant reasons –

1. For support – there’s not enough support going around from friends to friends, to help each establish their foundations. For example, I’m so thrilled that I have met someone who has found their passion and talent in the same package; the least I can do is write a little passage about it here.

2. The skills that Lucy possesses, not only go perfectly with life on the road, but also contain a sense of primal ‘togetherness’ with them; or at least, the art of craft-making can bring people together, (as this post will show) a factor that has seem to become trampled upon and somewhat buried in modern-day activities. For once, the competition of existence is put on hold, and instead, a time where sharing knowledge and skills now takes the podium.


Queenstown's Craft Market bustling


Every Saturday in central Queenstown sees the local craft market take the spotlight down at the lake-fronted Earnslaw Park.

A day or two before the market, all three of us went out ‘driftwood hunting’ – searching for materials to create Lucy’s display stand. The idea was to create something that the jewellery and other handmade items could hang from.


Hangin' out the goods!

Craig, a chippy by trade back in the UK, knocked up the stand in a couple of minutes with my trusty five-finger-discounted multi-tool, and hey presto, next thing we know, we’re all down at the marche, and loving it!

Up early for the setup, the day would bring forth lots of useful lessons that would be taken on board by all of us. For example, little things such as the height of your stall, can make a tremendous difference to sales and levels of interest.

However, the idea of the day wasn’t primarily to make paper. It was more about giving Lucy the hands on experience of what it’s like to trade via markets, meeting knew people, exchanging ideas and craft techniques, eating chips in the sun and learning how to savour every bit of body heat (looking at every stallholder, they all looked cold in some way or another!).

After the sun crept its way over the surrounding Queenstown mountain ranges, momentum started to gather as crowds began to defrost from their hibernation chambers and slowly, crawled their way through the miniature streets of marketdom.


Crowds gather to marvel at the craftiness


I was on tea runs – quite amusingly bombing down hills on my skateboard, back to the hostel to fill up a cuppa or two, then straight back down the slopes, teas in both hands. Quite a rush, I tell you.

After a trip or two back and forth, I noticed people chatting with Lucy, showing their interest, and before long, the first couple of purchases started to roll through.

For $35 and 7 hours of your time, you can set up a stall through the local council, and as long as all your stuff is handmade, you can sell it.

For the past few nights since I had met Lucy and Craig, we would be chatting whilst Lu would be knotting and crafting away.
The skill of making something with your hands couldn’t really be more in tune with how life works on the road – for those of you that have or are travelling extensively, you will know what I mean.

You can make someone a gift. You can teach them to make something to give as a gift to someone else. You can sell it. You can trade and barter with it. You can exhibit it. You can make it for fun. You can post it all over the world. You can customise it to each person. The list goes on.


Lu's selection of hand-made keyrings


Lucy, to date, is my favourite example of how one can survive financially, whilst keeping her sanity and pieces of her soul intact, without selling out to the machine – all the while having fun and gaining new experiences and shared moments with fellow travellers, anywhere in the world! ‘Can’t afford it.’!? Bollocks! Learn to craft!

So to all of you out there still craving for the ‘proper job’ and the oh-so-illusive ‘career path’, simply because you don’t believe in any other way or even know where to begin placing your faith (with regards to ‘alternative’ options), focus your attention towards Lucy. You might learn something useful.

The market was a great success. I think it’s fair to say that Lucy did actually sell more than she thought she would. Remember, this was her first market ever.


Lu's first happy customer!


But not only breaking even on the cost of setting up a stall and taking home enough for a nice portion of fish and chips – experiences and moments were shared and interchanged on that day too; something which can’t be priced.


Making Paper!


Our mates from the hostels came down, marvelling at what Craig and Lucy had manifested from just their supplies they had retrieved from their campervan.



Some more satisfied customers


Music padded in the background, the sun kept limbs above freezing point, and the constant stream of people complimented the friendly chatter that was exchanged amongst us.


'Keep it Frosty!'



Tea, trades, friends and tunes.


Welcome to the world of craft markets.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Urban and Wild Survival; 'La Casa Movil'

Multi-national Monsters Vodafone, released this hi-tech model of a tiny house back in 2009.
It's quite an inspiration for what is possible with regards to 'trailer-homes'.











Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Knowledge; 'Risk'



A very interesting article on the psychology of 'risk taking'.

Hopefully this gives a better insight into the way of living that a Hazardous Pioneer undertakes on a daily basis.

From here.

In the land of seatbelts and safety helmets, the leisure pursuit of dangeris a growth industry. Some experts say that courting uncertainty is the only way to protect the inner force America was founded on. Or to define the self.

RISKY BUSINESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE POPULAR. MOUNTAIN CLIMBING IS AMONG AMERICA'S FASTEST GROWING SPORTS.

Extreme skiing--in which skiers descend cliff-like runs by dropping from ledge to snow-covered ledge--is drawing wider interest. Sports like paragliding and cliff-parachuting are marching into the recreational mainstream while the adventurer-travel business, which often mixes activities like climbing or river rafting with wildlife safaris, has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry. "Forget the beach," declared Newsweek last year. "We're hot for mountain biking, river running, ice climbing, and bungee jumping.

Thirty-six-year-old Derek Hersey knew a thing or two about life on the edge. Where most rock climbers used ropes and other safety gear, the wiry, wise-cracking Brit usually climbed "free solo"--alone, using nothing but climbing shoes, finger chalk, and his wits. As one climbing buddy put it, Hersey went "for the adrenaline and risk," and on May 28, 1993, he got a dose of both. High on the face of Yosemite's Sentinel Rock, Hersey met with rain and, apparently, slick rock. Friends who found the battered body reckon he fell several hundred feet. In the not-too-distant past, students of human behavior might have explained Hersey's fall as death-wish fulfillment. Under conventional personality theories, normal individuals do everything possible to avoid tension and risk.


In fact, as researchers are discovering, the psychology of risk involves far more than a simple "death wish." Studies now indicate that the inclination to take high risks may be hard-wired into the brain, intimately linked to arousal and pleasure mechanisms, and may offer such a thrill that it functions like an addiction. The tendency probably affects one in five people, mostly young males, and declines with age. It may ensure our survival, even spur our evolution as individuals and as a species. Risk taking probably bestowed a crucial evolutionary advantage, inciting the fighting and foraging of the hunter-gatherer.

In mapping out the mechanisms of risk, psychologists hope to do more than explain why people climb mountains. Risk-taking, which one researcher defines as "engaging in any activity with an uncertain outcome," arises in nearly all walks of life. Asking someone on a date, accepting a challenging work assignment, raising a sensitive issue with a spouse or a friend, confronting an abusive boss--all involve uncertain outcomes, and present some level of risk. Understanding the psychology of risk, understanding why some individuals will take chances and others won't, could have important consequences in everything from career counseling to programs for juvenile delinquents.

Researchers don't yet know precisely how a risk taking impulse arises from within or what role is played by environmental factors, from upbringing to the culture at large. And, while some level of risk taking is dearly necessary for survival (try crossing a busy street without it), scientists are divided as to whether, in a modern society, a "high-risk gene" is still advantageous. Some scientists, like Frank Farley, Ph.D., a University of Wisconsin psychologist and past president of the American Psychological Association, see a willingness to take big risks as essential for success. The same inner force that pushed Derek Hersey, Farley argues, may also explain why some dare to run for office, launch a corporate raid, or lead a civil-rights demonstration.

Yet research has also revealed the darker side of risk taking. High-risk takers are easily bored and may suffer low job satisfaction. Their craving for stimulation can make them more likely to abuse drugs, gamble, commit crimes, and be promiscuous. As psychologist Salvadore Maddi, Ph.D., of the University of California-Davis warns, high-risk takers may "have a hard time deriving meaning and purpose from everyday life."

Indeed, this peculiar form of dissatisfaction could help explain the explosion of high-risk sports in America and other postindustrial Western nations. In unstable cultures, such as those at war or suffering poverty, people rarely seek out additional thrills. But in a rich and safety-obsessed country like America, land of guardrails, seat belts, and personal-injury lawsuits, everyday life may have become too safe, predictable, and boring for those programmed for risk-taking.

In an unsettling paradox, our culture's emphasis on security and certainty--two defining elements of a "civilized" society--may not only be fostering the current risk taking wave, but could spawn riskier activities in the future. "The safer we try to make life," cautions psychologist Michael Aptor, Ph.D, a visiting professor at Yale and author of The Dangerous Edge: The Psychology of Excitement, "the more people may take on risks."

UNIQUE WAVELENGTHS

In Icicle Canyon, a towering rocky corridor in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, this strange interplay between safety and risk is a common sight. When weather permits, the canyon's formidable walls swarm with fit-looking men and women, using improbably small ledges and cracks to hoist themselves upward. For novices, risk can be kept to a minimum. Beginners' climbs are "top-roped" by a line running from the climber to a fixed cliff-top anchor and back down to a partner on the ground.

Even so, the novice can quickly experience a very realistic fear--what veterans call "getting gripped." Halfway up one short cliff, a first-timer in a tee shirt and shorts stalls out beneath a rock overhang. Unable to find a foothold, the climber peels off the cliff like wet wallpaper and dangles limply from the rope. His partner lowers him back to safety, where he stands white-faced, like someone emerging from an auto accident. Five minutes later, he is back on the cliff.

It's easy to see why high-risk sports receive so much academic attention. Climbers, for example, score higher on risk-preference tests than nearly all other groups. They show a strong need for intense stimulation and seek it in environments--sheer cliffs or frozen waterfalls--that most humans seem genetically programmed to avoid.

Climbers' own explanations for why they climb illustrate the difficulty of separating genetic, environmental, and cognitive components of this or any other behavioral trait. Many say they climb for decidedly conscious reasons: to test limits, to build or maintain self-esteem, to gain self-knowledge. Some regard it as a form of meditation. "Climbing demands absolute concentration," says Barbara, a lithe, 30-ish climber from Washington State. "It's the only time I ever feel in the moment."


Yet even the most contemplative climbers concede that their minds and bodies do operate on a unique wavelength. As Forrest Kennedy, a 32-year-old climber from Georgia, bluntly puts it, "What we do for kicks, most people wouldn't do if you held a gun to their heads."

Many climbers recognize that their commitment to the sport borders on addiction, one that persists after brushes with injury and death. Seattle attorney Jim Wickwire, for example, is probably best known for being on the first American team to summit Pakistan's 28,250-foot K-2, second highest peak in the world and arguably the most challenging. (The movie K-2 was based on his story.) Yet this handsome, soft-spoken father of five is almost as wellknown for his obstinacy. On K-2, Wickwire lost several toes to frostbite and half a lung to altitude sickness. A year before, in 1977, he'd seen two climbing partners fall 4,000 feet. In 1981, on Alaska's Mount McKinley, he watched helplessly as another partner froze to death after becoming wedged in an ice crevasse.

Wickwire vowed then never to climb again. But in 1982, he attempted 29,028-foot Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak--and there saw yet another partner plunge 6,000 feet to her death. In 1993, as Wickwire, then 53, prepared for a second Everest attempt, he told a climbing magazine that he'd "stopped questioning why" he still climbed. Today, he seems just as uncertain. "The people who engage in this," Wickwire says, "are probably driven to it in a psychological fashion that they may not even understand themselves."

Until recently, researchers were equally baffled. Psychoanalytic theory and learning theory relied heavily on the notion of stimulus reduction, which saw all human motivation geared toward eliminating tension. Behaviors that created tension, such as risk taking, were deemed dys-functional, masking anxieties or feelings of inadequacy.

A CRAVING FOR AROUSAL

Yet as far back as the 1950s, research was hinting at alternative explanations. British psychologist Hans J. Eysenck developed a scale to measure the personality trait of extroversion, now one of the most consistent predictors of risk taking. Other studies revealed that, contrary to Freud, the brain not only craved arousal, but somehow regulated that arousal at an optimal level. Over the next three decades, researchers extended these early findings into a host of theories about risk taking.

Some scientists, like UC-Davis's Maddi and Wisconsin's Farley, concentrate on risk taking primarily as a cognitive or behavioral phenomenon. Maddi sees risk taking as an element of a larger personality dimension he calls "hardiness," which measures individuals' sense of control over their environment and their willingness to seek out challenges. Farley regards risk-taking more as a whole personality type. Where other researchers speak of Type A and B personalities, Farley adds Type T, for thrill seeking. He breaks Type-T behavior into four categories: T-mental and T-physical, to distinguish between intellectual and physical risk taking; and T-negative and T-positive, to distinguish between productive and destructive risk taking.

A second line of research focuses on risks biological roots. A pioneer in these studies is psychologist Marvin Zuckerman at the University of Delaware. He produced a detailed profile of the high-sensation seeking (HSS) personality. HSS individuals, or "highs," as Zuckerman calls them, are typically impulsive, uninhibited, social, and tend toward liberal political views. They like high-stimulus activities, such as loud rock music or pornographic or horror movies, yet are rarely satisfied by vicarious thrills. Some level of actual risk--whether physical, social, or legal-seems necessary. Highs tend to be heavy bettors. They may try many kinds of drugs and favor sports like skiing or mountain climbing to running or gymnastics. Highs also show a clear aversion to low-sensation situations, otherwise known as boredom.

High-sensation seeking plays a huge role in relationships. Highs favor friends with interesting or offbeat life-styles, and avoid boring people. They're also far more sexually permissive, particularly in the number of sex partners, than lows. Highs favor mates with similar proclivities for stimulation, while lows generally pair off with other lows. And woe, apparently, to those who break this rule. "The combination of a high- and a low-sensation seeker," says Zuckerman, "seems to put the marriage relationship at risk."

Indeed, one benefit of such research is that it can be applied to many areas of everyday life. Those seeking mates, the University of Wisconsin's Farley says, should focus on those who share their level of risk taking, particularly in terms of sexual habits. Likewise, thrill seekers should also look for the right level of on-the-job excitement. "If you're a Big T type working on a microchip assembly line, you're going to be miserable," Farley predicts. "But if you're Big T on a big daily newspaper or a police force, where you never know what you'll be doing next, you're probably going to thrive."

Many climbers fit the HSS profile. Many report difficulty keeping full-time jobs, either because the work bores them, or because it interferes with their climbing schedule. Long-term relationships can be problematic, especially where climbers marry nonclimbers, or where one partner begins losing interest in the sport. Non-climbing partners often complain that their spouses spend too much time away from home, or refuse to commit to projects (children, for example) that might interfere with climbing. Relationships are also strained by the ever-present threat of injury or death. As one Midwestern climber puts it, "the possibility that I might miss dinner, forever, doesn't make things any smoother."

Further, while many climbers are models of clean living, the sport has its share of hard partiers. Some even boast of making first ascents while high on marijuana or hallucinogens like LSD. Climbers say such drugs enhance or intensify the climbing experience. But studies suggest that the drugs may also mimic the process that pushes climbers in the first place.

WIRED FOR THRILLS

Researchers have long known of physiological differences between high- and low-sensation seekers. According to Zuckerman, the cortical system of a high can handle higher levels of stimulation without overloading and switching to the fight-or-flight response. Psychologist Randy Larsen, Ph.D., at the University of Michigan, has even shown that high-sensation seekers not only tolerate high stimulus but crave it as well.

Larsen calls high-sensation seekers "reducers": Their brains automatically dampen the level of incoming stimuli, leaving them with a kind of excitement deficit. (Low-sensation seekers, by contrast, tend to "augment" stimuli, and thus desire less excitement.) Why are some brains wired for excitement? Since 1974, researchers have known that the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) plays a central role in regulating arousal, inhibition, and pleasure. They also found that low levels of MAO correlate with high levels of certain behaviors, including criminality, social activity, and drug abuse. When Zuckerman began testing HSS individuals, they, too, showed unusually low MAO levels.

The enzyme's precise role isn't deal It regulates levels of at least three important neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, which arouses the brain in response to stimuli; dopamine, which is involved with the sensation of pleasure in response to arousal; and serotonin, which acts as a brake on norepinephrine and inhibits arousal. It's possible that high-sensation seekers have lower base levels of norepinephrine and thus, can tolerate more stimulation before triggering serotonin's dampening effect. High-sensation seekers may also have lower levels of dopamine and are thus in a chronic state of underarousal in the brain's pleasure centers.

Such individuals may turn to drugs, like cocaine, which mimic dopamine's pleasure reaction. But they may also use intense and novel stimulation, triggering norepinephrine's arousal reaction and getting rewarded by the dopamine pleasure reaction. "What you get is a combination of tremendous arousal with tremendous pleasure," Zuckerman speculates. "And the faster that arousal reaches its peak, the more intense your pleasure." Just as important, individuals may develop a tolerance for the pleasure reaction, and thus may need ever higher levels of stimulation--of risk--to achieve the same rush.

Today such an addictive dynamic may seem largely problematic. In prehistoric times it was very likely essential. Dopamine, for example, has known links to various "approach" behaviors: feeding, fighting, foraging, and exploration. Probably, the same mechanism that gave people like Derek Hersey a rush from climbing also rewarded their predecessors for the more necessary acts of survival.

Psychologist Aptor suggests that the willingness to take risks, even if expressed by only certain individuals, would have produced benefits for an entire group. Upon entering a new territory, a tribe would quickly need to assess the environment's safety in terms of "which water holes are safe to drink from, which caves are empty of dangerous animals." Some risk takers would surely die. But, Aptor points out, "it's better for one person to eat a poisonous fruit than for everybody."

Climbers are understandably leery of such explanations. They admit that they may be more inclined to take risks than the average human. But that inclination's ultimate expression, they argue, is largely a matter of personal volition. "At some level, there is a reason, chemical, mechanical, or whatever, for why we climb. But doesn't that take the 'human' element out of it, and make us all robots?" grouses Todd Wells, a 40-year-old climber from Chattanooga. "I climb so I don't feel like a robot, so I feel like I'm doing something that is motivated by the 'self.'"

Even physiologically oriented scientists like Zuckerman admit the dopamine reaction is only part of the risk-taking picture. Upbringing, personal experience, socio-economic status, and learning are all crucial in determining how that risk-taking impulse is ultimately expressed.


CULTURE OF ASCENT

Although many climbers report a childhood preference for thrills, their interest in climbing was often shaped externally, either through contact with older climbers or by reading about great expeditions. Upon entering the sport, novices are often immersed in a tight-knit climbing subculture, with its own lingo, rules of conduct, and standards of excellence.

This learned aspect may be the most important element in the formation of the high-sensation seeking personality. While risk taking may have arisen from neurochemicals and environmental influences, there is an intellectual or conscious side to it that is now not only distinct from them but is itself a powerful motivator. Working through a challenging climbing route, for example, generates a powerful sense of competence that can also provide climbers with a new-found confidence in their everyday life. "There is nothing more empowering than taking a risk and succeeding," says Farley.

No wonder scaling the face of a cliff is a potent act that can penetrate to the very essence of self and help reshape it. Many climbers report using that empowering dynamic to overcome some of their own inner obstacles. Among these, fear--of heights, of loss of control, of death--is the most commonly cited.

Richard Gottlieb, 42-year-old climber from New York, is known for climbing frozen waterfalls, one of the riskiest facets of the sport. But as a kid, he was too scared even to go to summer camp. "Yet there was something in me that wanted to get into some swashbuckling adventure," he says. Climbing satisfied that impulse while helping him overcome his fearful nature. Gottlieb believes climbing has helped him cope with his fear of death: "We open the door, see the Grim Reaper right there, but instead of just slamming the door, you push him back a few steps."

NEW OUTLETS

Traditional outlets for the risk-taking impulse have been disappearing from everyday life. As civilization steadily minimized natural risks, Aptor says, and as cultures have sought to maintain their hard-won stability through repressive laws and stifling social mores, risk takers have been forced to devise new outlets. In the 20th century, that has brought about a rise in thrill sports. But Aptor believes the tension between civilization and risk taking dates back eons. Aptor wonders how much of the British Empire "was built up by people trying to escape the desperately conformist society of Victorian England."

When channeled into sports like climbing, where skill and training can minimize danger, or into starting a new business, risk taking may continue to be a healthy psychological outlet. It may provide a means to cope with boredom and modern anxieties, to bolster self-esteem. Risk taking may provide a crucial sense of control in a period where so much of what happens--from crime and auto accidents to environmental disasters and economic downturns--seems almost random.

Unfortunately, the risk taking impulse doesn't always find such healthy outlets. Many high-sensation seekers don't have the money or the role models for sky diving or rock climbing, Zuckerman notes. "In such groups, the main forms of sensation seeking include sex, drugs, heavy drinking, gambling, and reckless driving." Indeed, sensation seeking may emerge as a critical factor in crime. No surprise, then, that some researchers place the risk taking personality in the "abnormal" category and regard high-risk takers almost as an evolutionarily obsolete subspecies. Maddi suggests that well-adjusted people are "good at turning everyday experience into something interesting. My guess is that the safecracker or the mountain climber can't do that as well. They have to do something exciting to get a sense of vitality. It's the only way they have of getting away from the sense that life sucks." Larsen is even blunter: "I think risk takers are a little sociopathic."

Farley is more optimistic. Even civilized society, he says, holds ample opportunity for constructive risk taking: investing in a high-stakes business venture, running for political office, taking an unpopular social stand. Farley argues that history's most crucial events are shaped by Big T behavior and Big T individuals, from Boris Yeltsin to Martin Luther King, Jr. The act of emigration, he says, is an intrinsically risky endeavor that selects individuals who are high in sensation seeking. Consequently, countries built upon immigrant population--America, Canada, Australia--probably have an above-aver-age level of risk takers. He warns that much of the current effort to minimize risk and. risk taking itself runs the risk of eliminating "a large part of what made this country great in the first place."

For all the societal aspects of this peculiar trait, the ultimate benefits may continue to be purely personal. "There's a freshness to the [climbing; experience that clears away the weariness of routine and the complexity of social norms," says Seattle climber Bill Pilling. "Climbing brings you back to a primal place, where values are being created and transformed."

To push away from society's rules and protections, Farley suggests, is the only way to get a sense of where "society" ends and "you" begin. "Taking a risk, stepping away from the guardrails, from the rules and the status quo, that's when you get a sense of who 'you' are," he says. "If you don't stretch, try to push past the frontiers, it's very difficult to know that."

True Self-Expression; Underwater Base Jump Video



..Consider the fact that the person who filmed this video, Julie Gautier, also held her breath when filming Nery, and the video seems even more incredible.

True Self-Expression; 'Are Risk Takers A Dying Breed?'


Reannon Muth wonders if the modern daredevil has become obsolete - The following article was taken from here.

Long before my first attempt at scaling the side of a mountain, I scaled the side of my parents’ two-story house.

Using my bedspread as a make-shift rope, I kicked out my bedroom window and prepared to swing Tarzan-style down to the ground 50 feet below. I was seven.

Luckily, my father caught me dangling from the window-ledge just in time to spare a trip to the ER. But not in time to spare me from a life-long addiction to thrills and daring adventures. That, apparently, had been hard-wired into my brain since birth.

According to research conducted by University of Delaware professor Marvin Zuckerman, not only is my passion for living on the edge a trait of a risk-taking personality type, it’s also hereditary. I’m a risk-taker – or high sensation-seeker – a label Zuckerman attributes to anyone who craves “novel, intense and complex sensations and experiences” and is willing to engage in risky behavior in order to achieve them.

In modern society, daredevils are usually considered oddballs or worse, adrenaline junkies with a death wish.
And while that often involves physical risks, not everyone needs to be a sky-diving instructor in order to consider herself a risk-taker. According to Zuckerman, the risk-taking trait can manifest itself in other behaviors. Someone who enjoys exploring a foreign city without a map, for example, would be considered an “Experience-seeking” risk-taker. And those easily bored by routine and who frequently move or switch jobs are called “Boredom Susceptibility” risk-takers.

Although there might be a little Evel Knievel lurking in your entrepreneurial next-door neighbor, it’s usually the climber on Everest or the crocodile hunter that receive the attention. And it’s often negative. In modern society, daredevils are usually considered oddballs or worse, adrenaline junkies with a death wish. But it wasn’t always like that.


As the theory goes, the risk-takers of yore were not only valued members of a tribe, but absolutely vital to humankind’s survival.

While the play-it-safers stuck close to their berry patches, their more adventurous counterparts risked life and limb hunting the saber-tooth tiger or investigating a newly-discovered cave.

Not surprisingly, many a risk-taking caveman didn’t survive that elephant tusk to the back or drink from that contaminated watering-hole. But as psychologist Michael Aptor, author of the book “Dangerous Edge: The Psychology of Excitement”, pointed out in the Psychology Today article, Risk, “it’s better for one person to eat a poisonous fruit than for everybody.” It was because of these early risk-takers that our species was able to survive.

But you wouldn’t know it from people’s reactions today. Up until recently, the theory was that human beings main motivation in life was tension-avoidance, so those adventurists who actively sought it were deemed impaired and even crazy. Some researchers not only consider the risk-taking personality “abnormal”, but theorize that it’s becoming obsolete.

They have a point. In the modern world, where no waters are left uncharted or lands undiscovered, there just isn’t a need in society for the girl gutsy enough to dive for oysters in shark-infested water.


Michael Alvear, in the Salon article Risky Business, wrote: “You can’t swing a helmeted cat without hitting a mandated safety precaution.” And although those helmet laws and health inspections have made the modern world safer, they’ve also sapped it of the very thing that makes life interesting: it’s wild unpredictability.

And this is bad news for those programmed to crave adventure. Because as science has shown, a thirst for novelty is in the risk-taker’s blood. While neuroscientists have yet to agree which gene is responsible for why some prefer paint-balling to painting, a study from Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that those who crave an element of danger do so because their brains have trouble regulating dopamine.

Science has shown, a thirst for novelty is in the risk-taker’s blood.
Dopamine is the brain’s “happy juice”. It’s the chemical you can thank for that blissful feeling you experience while eating that chocolate sundae or sharing a romantic evening with a lover. And in the brain of a high-sensation seeker (who is believed to have fewer of a dopamine-blocking enzyme), it’s overflowing. Which is why the risk-taker may feel bizarrely elated at the prospect of jumping off a cliff, whereas the average person feels merely frightened and stressed.

Not that the average person doesn’t enjoy the occasional weekend ski-trip. On a scale of sensation-seeking tendencies, with the couch potato on one end and the base jumper on the other, most people fall somewhere in between. And that’s unlikely to change, no matter how many safety nets or seat-belts society cocoons itself in.


But adrenaline junkies (those who struggle to cope with the mundane existence of every-day life) are a different breed. And as evolution has demonstrated, over time, when a trait ceases to be advantageous, it ceases to exist.

So with an intense desire for adventure literally pumping through their veins and with no spear-throwing tribesman in sight, what’s a modern daredevil to do?

Well, as the article “Risk” and the spike in popularity of adventure tourism would suggest, when you can’t find danger, you create it. And that’s why we find grannies giddily signing up for white-water rafting in Costa Rica or college students heading to orphanages in New Delhi for voluntourism gigs.

Last weekend, 20 years since that day on my window-ledge, I stood on a different sort of ledge, the kind 200 feet above ground and attached to a cliff on the border of a Guatemalan jungle. As I readied myself to zip-line across the tree tops, I prayed that metal and cable would prove studier than the bedspread. I was nervous. But perhaps not unsurprisingly, exhilarated, too.

Maybe we risk-takers are a dying breed. But you can be sure that if we do all die out, we’ll be going out in style: para-gliding, free-falling and bungeeing our way into extinction.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Anarcho-Spirituality; Dean Potter

Dean Potter.

All I can say is that you have to watch this 5 part documentary.

I think I've found my niche in life...


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Anarcho-Spirituality; Anti-Work

The time has come to write another post.

These last few weeks have seen my head rear itself from the sandy depths of the silicate, systematic ant's nest, and now that the light is burning my eyes, I thought I would share my revelations with you all.

Specifically, this last month or so has been built upon the premise that we all know as 'work'; paid employment. In truth, beneath that disguise is the very nature of it all; wage slavery.

I have found myself once again questioning my reasons as to why I put myself through such monotonous, meaningless, mundane bullshit, all in the name of valueless paper - that we seem to sacrifice pieces of ourselves as we come to worship before the mythical entity that we know as 'money'.

Each shift feels more and more like an eternal-chasm that just will not come to end. I notice myself rocket-clocking - rampantly darting my eyes back and forth at the minutes presenting themself on my screen, torturing myself as I ask questions I already know the answers to; 'How much longer?' 'How long left to go?'

And why is it we seem to be able to ask that very question in a million different ways when we vest ourselves in situations that we'd really rather not have to partake in.

I personally have two weeks left in my current call-centre job. I have already had one verbal warning, and as I count the remaining days that I will have to work, I seem to have to psyche myself up for each shift - 'Can you handle this one?' 'Do you think you'll make it?'

Due to such a short time left, I find myself pushing the boundaries further from what I already know and understand as 'the art of milking'.
Today, I found that there is a loophole in the system with regards to lengths of breaktimes - I managed to blag 20 minutes instead of the usual, standard 10 minute paid break.

But like a morphine addict, that sweet sensation just wasn't enough. Immediately my brain ticked as to how the boundaries could be pushed further, and further.

'Could I not just sit in the toilet for half an hour? Would anyone notice?' I find the devil on my shoulderblade ponering.

And so, this goes on, and on and on.
Eventually, I have to conclude - as I would expect any person wishing to keep their sanity intact - that this is NOT HEALTHY!

Realistically, if the above are your mental and physical reactions to work and wage slavery in general, then one has to ask 'WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING THIS FOR!?'

And that's precisely the point I am at right now.

The following are essays and excerpts from others out there that share my opinions on commerce, the system and wage slavery, and I do hope that you find some sense, truth and even heart-scalding resonance in what they too say about the tragedy that we all know as 'employment'.

This spawns deeper - mostly for me 'Why on Earth would you bother to commit your precious little time on this planet, to doing a 'job' which cuts your divine and unlimited potential short?'

If everyone's goal throughout life is essentially to find some sort of lasting, meaningful happiness whilst they're here, WHY would you waste that energy on status, wage slavery and above all, actions of such synthesis?

I should add that due to my less than 20 hour work week, I was confronted by one of my housemates with the oh, so eloquently-phrased condemnation 'Why don't you work you lazy shit!?'There was conviction in her voice, and to her, not working just seemed incomprehendible.

The following, Hannah, is for you:

Buckle up, it's about to get raw -

ONE.

'THE CULT OF THE JOB' By D. JoAnn Swanson
(Bold has been added by Hazardous Davis)

The Cult of the Job

I am job-free. Out of the rat race. Unemployed, as they say, but definitely by choice. My self-esteem is intact, thank you, I'm not "in transition", and I have no intention of getting a job again.

That's right--I'm on the leisure track permanently. I don't have a cushy nine-to-five job with profit-sharing, "security", stock options, health insurance, advancement opportunities, or free parking. I also don't have to deal with office politics, attending motivation seminars, climbing the corporate ladder, employee evaluations, increasing productivity, the absurd "team player" mentality, brown-nosing, mandatory overtime, stressful commutes in rush-hour traffic, being trapped in a cubicle, or the threat of being pink-slipped. Oh, and let's not forget--I don't have the expense of a "professional" wardrobe, strong coffee to wake me up every morning, or "power lunches".

I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you ask me what seems to have become the first question new acquaintances ask each other nowadays-namely, "What do you do for a living?" I'm likely to say that I'm job-free by choice or quip that I'm an "occupational tourist", as a friend likes to say. Sometimes I'll tell 'em I'm a freelancer or self-employed, specializing in leisure. Most people, when they hear this, say something like "You mean you don't have a regular job? Wow, that's great--I'll bet more people would do that if they thought they could swing it."

I'm willing to bet that more of them could swing it if they'd just find within themselves the wherewithal to question a few of the assumptions that are often taken for granted in America, particularly by the middle class and those who aspire to wealth. So what assumptions am I talking about? Well, let's start with the cult of jobs and work.

We need to re-evaluate the role of jobs in our lives. For far too many of us, getting a job amounts to securing a means of paying for our living expenses, and not much more. At best, this attitude leads to years of "paying one's dues" in exchange for the dubious "security" of a (hopefully) steady paycheck and the promise of finally enjoying leisure when one retires. At worst, it leads to a way of life where we devote 40 or more hours of our precious time a week to doing something we don't care about mainly for the sake of having a roof over our heads and food on the table. I know I'm not the only one who thinks this is ludicrous. It took me years of trying to fit myself into some kind of job title, of devoting myself to figuring out "what I wanted to be when I grew up", before I realized that I don't want a job, nor do I feel guilty about not wanting one.

It's time for us to make a crucial distinction between "jobs" and "work". Work--particularly the kind that is motivated by interest, social welfare, connection, curiosity, learning, beauty--can be satisfying, fulfilling, fun, and honorable. However, it's exceedingly hard to see this when we are blinded by the compulsion to "get a job" or face the poorhouse, or when we're terrified by the social and financial consequences of being job-free. In addition, we've internalized a puritan work ethic which holds that laziness is a sign of moral weakness. We sense deep in our guts that even if we were to arrange our financial affairs such that we could quit our jobs for good, it would mean we are lazy. We know we'd still face guilt, social disapproval, maybe even an identity crisis once we were unemployed--especially if we were to tell everyone we meet that we're not "in transition", not hunting for a new job, that in fact we are happy this way. I maintain that a complex web of unquestioned assumptions are what keep such fears in place, and that we need to delve into those places we fear to tread if we're ever going to make lasting changes for the better.

A job, nowadays, is used as a shorthand term for whatever it is you do that occupies a large portion of your time and provides a paycheck. In a work-obsessed culture that elevates jobs and money-making capacity to crucial components of our identities, having a job and money often provides a sense of social acceptability that cannot be found any other way, or so we believe. But there are lots of (legal) ways of getting money besides jobs, and what's more, we are increasingly becoming aware that we've paid a very high price for our myopic job-centered focus.

On a personal level, many of us find ourselves disillusioned, depressed and frustrated when, day after day, we force ourselves to get out of bed and put in another eight hours at our jobs, then come home exhausted--only to get up the next day and do it all over again. The future doesn't hold out much hope for us when we consider that we're expected to continue this way indefinitely. When do we get to enjoy life, we think as we watch the clock and count the days until the weekend?

On a societal level, we hear about corporate "downsizing" as well as environmental and human rights violations, rising rents in choice areas, the growing wage gap between executives and "worker bees", the rising cost of a college education and the lack of "marketability" of liberal arts degrees, and many other factors which contribute to a widespread sense of disillusionment. This certainly isn't the way we thought it would be, is it? It's not what were promised when we were told that getting an education and a "good" job would be our ticket into the promised land.

This concept we have of jobs as the way we make a name for ourselves, "get ahead", create an identity, and earn money is ripe for re-evaluation. It's high time for us to take a hard look at the personal and environmental devastation such thinking has wrought, and to conceptualize and create alternatives to the cult of jobs and work in our lives.
Such alternatives could take many forms: self-employment, cooperative living arrangements, simplifying our lives, changes in economic policy, and so forth. Envisioning a new way of working is certainly not a new idea, but those of us who question the conventional wisdom about jobs are still considered heretics, radicals and pariahs in many circles.

Heretic or not, I'd like to see us re-define success as having more to do with people and their values, and less to do with profits or climbing the corporate ladder. I'd like to see a world where we are less relentlessly driven by the pursuit of job growth, impressive stock portfolios, the "bottom line" and material acquisition--and more motivated by active mindful learning, joyful work, and creating a web of relationships that will sustain us in our more meager times. I'm holding out for a new way of thinking, one in which we recognize that leisure is essential to our mental health rather than cause for guilt, and that we don't have to spend our lives struggling, striving to make ends meet through working at a job.

I think we all know, at some level, that we weren't meant to live this way, and that there are better, more fulfilling, and more socially responsible ways to work than by sacrificing ourselves on the altar of jobs and money. There are the stirrings of a new social movement underway as we speak--a diverse collection of people from all walks of life who are re-examining the way we've been indoctrinated into thinking our jobs are our ticket to respectability and freedom. They are re-defining success, learning how to appreciate what they have instead of endlessly questing for more growth, and discovering their passions without worrying about trying to fit them into the form of a job.

I'm happy to count myself among the proponents of that movement away from the cult of jobs and toward a new way of envisioning work--a way that gives us hope for the future.

I invite you to join us.


TWO. What I Learned When I Quit My Job: Part One


Six years ago, I quit my dreadful, low-paying temp job. After years of wage slavery, I was sick of jobs altogether. I dreamed of a different kind of life, one where I could choose my own activities and meet my survival needs with ease. It's possible, and in the long run it takes something more than winning the lottery, having a rich spouse, or inheriting a fortune. But before I delve into "survival without a job", I'd like to offer some new definitions of terms we often use when discussing these matters.

JOB:
Drudgery. Alienated effort expended for someone else on their terms, often a corporation or boss, doing something you don't care about, in exchange for external compensation - money, health insurance, benefits, pleasing others. Something done against one's will for the sake of a paycheck. See "wage slavery".

WORK:
Satisfying, self-directed activity, sometimes (but not always) with tangible results, done for its own sake, driven by interest or fascination, sustained by intrinsic motivation. Distinguished from "job" by the fact that work can be done with joy, deep care, and pride, whether or not money is received. See "leisure".

LEISURE:
Satisfying, self-directed activity, sometimes (but not always) with intangible results, done for its own sake, driven by interest or fascination, sustained by intrinsic motivation. Not the same thing as "free time", since that phrase suggests that everything else is "non-free (wage slave) time". Distinguished from "work" by…well, hmmm…see "work".

WAGE SLAVERY:
Being driven by an unhealthy work ethic, lacking a fulfilling sense of leisure (thinking of it as just "free time"), and/or feeling trapped in a soulless, alienated job you hate just for the sake of a paycheck. Failing to see possibility for joyful work OR joyful leisure. Feeling trapped in a cycle of spending most of one's time at a job, and much of the rest recuperating. Never being fully present in this moment; holding out for an elusive future promise. Unfortunately, a very common condition.

FREEDOM FROM WAGE SLAVERY:
Defining work and leisure a whole new way. Knowing deep inside, not just intellectually, that you don't have to hold a job or be a wage slave to meet your needs in life. Being able to enter that space in the present moment where the distinction between work and leisure is blurred. Being committed to a job-free life, often while simultaneously working to free others from wage slavery.
"I'd quit this lame job in a heartbeat if only I had the money." That's what I told myself for years. But I've come to believe that lack of money is not the only thing that keeps most people stuck in wage slavery. It's a factor, yes, and my intention here is not to dismiss legitimate concerns about money - but for me it was by no means the whole story. I know society makes it hard to live without a job, but what about that slave-driving, destructive work ethic operating in our minds and hearts? Many of us never even question it. We think it's just the need for money keeping us stuck in our lousy jobs, but I've learned that the problem runs much deeper.

When I tell people I've been out of the 9-to-5 grind and happily job-free for three years (not unemployed - I write, after all, but my time is all my own), the first question I get asked is how I manage to support myself. The short, incomplete answer: a combination of good fortune and deliberate, methodical planning. The good fortune part: I've never had any trouble getting jobs when necessary, I've had supportive friends and family, and I received a small family inheritance (enough to pay my expenses job-free for about six months). The planning part: I invested my money, made a few unpopular life choices, saved earnings from the years I spent being a wage slave, and embarked upon some serious self-exploration until I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life outside the bounds of a traditional job. That planning part is not as easy as it sounds, but I think it's much better than wage slavery. So I started, at a young age, to make choices that would allow me freedom to live a self-directed life. To wit:

1) I've consciously chosen to live simply and avoid debt. I know I can be quite happy with few material goods. I've also chosen not to marry, have children or keep pets.

2) I've shifted my perspective on wealth. Wealth has little to do with greenbacks. No matter how little money I may have, I can always find something to make me feel rich - like the fact that I can hear a bird sing a beautiful melody outside my window, for example.

3) I've invested time in friendship and creating community. As a result, I have a lot of very good friends who are happy to share their resources (homes, food, etc.) and barter services with me.

And that's just a start. I think most people who want to free themselves from the wage slave grind have other options. It's not very widely acknowledged, though, that if we hate our jobs, the questions we need to ask are much broader than "how do I get money once I quit?" Dispensing suggestions to would-be job quitters is all well and good. However, I feel I'm leaving out a crucial factor if I offer suggestions on how to get money outside the confines of a job WITHOUT addressing our deeper attitudes on work and leisure. Our attitudes are a whole lot more important than most of us would like to admit.

For a long time I thought that the only thing keeping me stuck in a job I hated was fear of not having money to eat and pay rent. That's a socially acceptable way to complain about your job nowadays - after all, gotta pay the bills - so I had lots of company. Like many of my "slacker" intellectual friends from comfortable white middle-class backgrounds, I spent untold energy griping about my job, The System, being a cog in the machine, and selling out to The Man. But then I had an experience that baffled me, and made me question everything I used to believe about what kept me stuck in shitty jobs.

With the financial support of my partner, I gratefully quit my job to write a book. Although I made a bit of progress, I still felt very stuck (for reasons I could not identify at the time), and was unable to get far on the book, even after a year's time. I felt terribly guilty about my "laziness", which added to the problem. Rather than accepting my partner's gift gracefully, I felt weighted down - I owed, I was in debt to my partner, and this made me feel pressured, which I hated. I felt obligated to repay my partner's generous support by being "productive" (read: earning money). Even worse, I felt that I was unworthy if I did not. There was a healthy part of me rebelling against the idea that I should measure my worth by my accomplishments, but deep inside I was convinced that I'd have no friends or supporters if I didn't earn money. These two parts clashed, sapping most of my energy in fighting a psychological battle, and of course that left very little energy for creative activities like writing a book.

After years of therapy and wrestling with why I remained "stuck" even after lack of money was no longer keeping me stuck in a job I hated, I've come to believe that my biggest obstacles to living a job-free life were in my own mind and heart. I had to unearth some very deep-seated beliefs and re-think my slave-driving work ethic before I was able to successfully live, guilt-free, without a traditional nine-to-five job. Once I began this process of re-thinking, I noticed that it became a whole lot easier to attract money and/or find ways to provide for my needs. It's an ongoing challenge, of course - some days I still feel guilty if I don't live up to others' ideas of "productivity" (or worse, my own hidden fears that I won't measure up if I'm not "productive") - but then again, all of life is a process of unfolding, isn't it? It isn't as though I suddenly woke up one day and had all the answers. I've learned to love the process instead of seeking instant solutions.

So…back to the "how do I survive without a job" question. I struggled with this for years, until I realized that there was a hidden layer of confusion, often unconscious, motivating that question at the root. I think that's why I sensed that the source of my problems was not addressed simply through having my food and rent taken care of. A list of practical suggestions (for example: live cheaply in a trailer, join a squatting group, shop at food co-ops, don't own a car, etc.), doesn't really address the core question, helpful as such a list might be. So I'd like to delve a little deeper.

When I directed my focus to wondering how I'd survive without a job, I asked questions like these:

"How will I pay my bills if I don't have a job?"
"Where will I live when I get evicted or the bank forecloses on my house?"
"How will I feed and clothe myself and my family without the security of a paycheck?"
"Doesn't everyone need to work to get money?"


Although there is a certain amount of legitimate concern involved here, I phrased these questions as though I believed some secret magical ticket to job-free life would be suddenly and completely revealed, without me having to search for it in earnest, in my own mind and heart. I wanted someone to tell me the secret. Suggestions can help, but I now think the ultimate solutions will come from inside. My experience suggests that there's no instant solution - it's more like a process that we kick off when we make a commitment to be free of wage slavery.

I conducted my life as though it were a foregone conclusion that losing my job would mean homelessness, hunger, or complete insecurity. But the lesson here for me was that no matter how much we may want it to, security does not come from outside ourselves. Security does not come from having a job or money, despite what we may have unconsciously absorbed from living in a money-worshipping and job-focused culture. We can live in a shack and feel secure; conversely, we can live in a mansion and be filled with fear and insecurity. Real security, the kind that will last a lifetime regardless of job status or bank balance, comes from facing up to our fears and mastering them. We may have heard this before…but do we believe it? Failing that, are we willing to at least give it a try, and act as if we believe it? It couldn't hurt, and it might actually work. This is not meant to suggest that we don't need any money or support to live comfortably. It is meant to suggest that if we're afraid that we can't survive without a job, we have a perfect opportunity right now to face that fear and master it. We can use that fear to learn how to find real security!

My surface questions about how to pay the rent without a job were a red herring. They covered up my unexamined and deeply ingrained fears of scarcity and lack. Once I learned to ask myself some deeper questions, I was able to address what was keeping me feeling stuck in the daily grind regardless of whether my survival needs were met. Here are some examples of how the voice of my fears cropped up. Each is followed by the response my deeper awareness gave when the question was posed.

1) "There isn't enough wealth to go around, and if I don't work hard and strive and compete and achieve, I'll be homeless or hungry or destitute."

(Are you aware that the World Game Institute, the work of R. Buckminster Fuller, and many others have confirmed scientifically that we live in an abundant world with sufficient resources to care for every person on the planet? Are you aware that the only obstacles to all of us manifesting this abundance in our lives are personal and political - e.g. our deepest beliefs about wealth, and how the resources are distributed? Are you willing to let go of your fear of scarcity, work toward more equitable distribution of the world's abundance, and ALSO replace your fear with trust in an abundant world?)

2) "I hate to admit it, but I'm afraid of what would happen if I quit my job and had that much freedom every day. For one thing, what would get me out of bed in the morning?"

(An understandable fear indeed; it's very common to fear change and cling to the familiar, even if it is stifling or harmful. Are you willing to gently push yourself past the fear, trust that you will find a joyful reason to get up, and seek your freedom anyway?)

3) "I don't know what I want to do with my life, I just know I don't want to work at this shitty job for the rest of my days."

(Can you find and nurture within yourself the desire to discover what it is you really want to do? Can you be happy day-to-day even if you never find an occupation that gives you that "A-ha, THIS is it!" feeling? How about just trying different things out for awhile, and cultivating patience? How about entertaining the possibility that the "a-ha" feeling you are seeking might come more from what kind of person you are BEING in each moment than what you are DOING?)


4) "If I quit my job, people will think I'm lazy…and what's worse, I'm afraid they might be right. What would that say about my character? Would my partner leave me? Would my friends shun me?"

(Where did you get the idea that there was some kind of character flaw involved in being lazy? Are you willing to re-think that assumption, and adopt a new, more humane attitude toward leisure and idleness (and maybe make some new, less judgemental friends)? Leisure has brought us great works of art, created memorable moments in life, lessened our burdens, and contributed immeasurably to our culture. Is it really so bad?)

5) "I'm too busy (because of my job) to take the time to figure out what I really want out of life, and even if I had the time, I don't think I could get it anyway. I have to be realistic. Living without a job is nothing more than a pipe dream."

(We find time for the things that are truly important to us. Even five minutes a day of focused thinking, if you use it well, can be enough to get you going on a plan toward a job-free life. And history is full of examples of people who brought things into being because they believed in themselves and their abilities to go after their dreams. Why not try believing in your own ability to create the life you want? It couldn't hurt to at least TRY, before you dismiss the idea.)

6) "If I were to quit my job, I'd have to be totally responsible for finding something else to do, and maybe even dealing with my family's objections and criticism. And I don't think I'm prepared to face that."

(Are you prepared to deal with the alternative: abdicating that responsibility to others, and living under their rules and restraints?)

7) "I don't want to give up the material comforts I've become accustomed to, even for a short time."

(Are you willing to spend the rest of your days living in fear that you will lose those comforts, in exchange for the "instant gratification" of not giving them up now? Are you willing to entertain the idea that you might not HAVE to give them up, but that it will loosen your psychological shackles to at least be WILLING to do so?)


8) "I've always been taught that the way to financial security is to have a job and work hard."

(Are you willing to open your mind to learning different ways to financial security, besides having money through working at a job, particularly a job you dislike?)

I hate to admit it here, but even after I started asking the kind of questions above (and listening to the answers), I wasted a lot of energy on self-blame. It took me a long time to realize that I was not at fault for my struggles simply because I felt stuck. The System is set up so that very few other options are feasible besides earning income through a job. Not to mention that our hyper-individualistic American attitudes make us labor under an additional psychological burden: our mainstream political and social discourse convinces us that any failures to find jobs are due to individual faults, ignoring the role of larger forces. We hear that we are "lazy bums" if we can't find or don't want a job. (I hope you don't fall for this garbage the same way I did). But it won't help to use all of our precious energy lamenting the state of The System, either. We still have choices. We could be using that energy figuring out how to live a job-free life instead.

Although I don't think we should fault ONLY ourselves or ONLY The System, I can't emphasize enough that even though there are coercive forces at work in The System, we still have the most important of freedoms: to change our attitudes, and claim the power we DO have. That power turned out to be very crucial for me. It helped me immensely on my quest for a life free of wage slavery.

I've come to believe that wage slavery is, at its core, a mindset. This does not mean it's solely an individual problem and that all we have to do is adjust our attitudes and our job-related problems will disappear; there are definitely systemic factors involved. But it's just as important to remember that it's not entirely the fault of The System that we feel stuck in jobs we hate, because blaming it all on The System discourages us from recognizing our other options (and no matter how limited they may be, we DO have other options). It's even possible to have a "normal" job and not be a wage slave. But that's another topic for another time.

The way we interpret events has a lot to do with the filters we have in our minds. Let's say that, like me, you already realize that you've spent a lot of energy battling fears - energy that could be used to pursue your dreams. And let's say you realize that focusing on scarcity thoughts creates barriers to getting what you want before you've even begun. Why not continue on by digging deeper until you find your most stubborn block? For example, I once believed, unconsciously, that the only viable means to ensuring an income (and thus survival) is to have a job. That meant that jobs which provide a paycheck, or make-money-fast scams, were the only income opportunities I ever noticed. That "belief filter" made it as if I had blinders on - I didn't even perceive the other possible ways to survive or receive money, or even more commonly, I quickly wrote them off as "impractical" before giving them any serious consideration.

Once again, because I think this bears repeating: I don't mean to over-emphasize the role of the individual in achieving a life free from wage slavery. I want to make it clear that I recognize and affirm the necessity for social change work. I certainly don't intend to trivialize the concerns of those who suffer from severe poverty, homelessness and hunger; people in those situations often don't have the luxury of considering the kind of questions I pose here. In fact, I believe that the more thought we give to what it might take to have a job-free life ourselves, the more we will understand that as long as wage slavery exists, for us or anyone else, we can never be truly free as a society. When I realized that, I felt drawn toward working for social change and abolition of wage slavery, as well as my own freedom from the daily grind. The two go hand in hand.

Here are some other questions I asked myself: How committed am I to freeing myself (and others) from wage slavery? Not how committed would I like to be "if only" - how committed AM I, today? What would I be willing to do in order to be free to spend my time pursuing things I value? Am I willing to face the fear that I might end up as a bag lady? Am I willing to devote time to putting together a plan for how I'll meet my needs without a job? Am I willing to eat at soup kitchens, or cook and clean in exchange for room and board with family and friends, if that becomes necessary? Would I take the time to write up a classified ad specifying what non-traditional living situation I want and try to connect with others who could help me get it?

These questions were scary for me. For many years, I made a lot of excuses and used a lot of rationalizations. The job-free life, in a job-obsessed culture, isn't for the faint of heart. It asks of us an "I'll do whatever it takes for my freedom" kind of attitude, combined with the willingness to get very clear about what we want in life and face our fear of the unknown in order to have it. But if we are devoted to doing so, and willing to find that quiet force within us, it will enrich our entire lives - not just our outlook on work and leisure.

The next step for me was to apply what I'd learned about where real security comes from. I began a shift in my life that continues to this day. Here is how I maintain it.

1) Every day, I consciously cultivate a feeling of gratitude for the things I already have, rather than endlessly pining for more. If I just ate a good meal, and have a full stomach, I recognize that as a blessing. If I have a comfortable place to sleep tonight, that's certainly worth feeling thankful for. If I can name friends and family who love and care about me, and who teach me to stretch my own ability to love, I am deeply blessed. These are the important things in life - not "what I do for a living" or how fat my pocketbook happens to be. Keeping the focus on the blessings we already enjoy (and away from those insidious survival fears) opens the way for more blessings to flow in life.

2) I ask myself often, honestly and unflinchingly, what my life and the world would look like if I could wave a magic wand right now and miraculously cure all my money or job problems. What would I do if I never had to work solely for the sake of a paycheck again? What would I be doing? Where would I be living? These questions inspired me. Once I got crystal clear on the answers (and it didn't happen overnight), I didn't want to waste another minute. Life is precious and short, and this realization gave me the courage to take action now to move toward the kind of life I longed for. It might not look exactly the way I've planned, but I don't want to die without giving it a shot. Of course, the kind of life I wish for may change over time, and that's fine too.

3) I make a point of re-thinking the nature of work, jobs, and leisure. As mentioned above in our "new definitions", work does not have to equal suffering; it can be done with ease and joy. "Jobs", on the other hand, usually involve doing things we'd rather not. Even if I end up as one of the lucky few who happen to get paid for doing exactly what I'd be doing anyway regardless of remuneration, I know of FAR too many others who'd quit their jobs tomorrow if they felt money was not an issue. This suggests a social problem that cannot be cured by "creating more jobs", as politicians often claim. I continuously educate myself about it, and am doing my part toward creating a world where wage slavery is a thing of the past. Want to help? You can start today, right now, with yourself. Besides, the more self-respect you develop, the less you will be willing to settle for a job that deadens your soul.

4) I remind myself daily that not wanting a job does not necessarily mean I am "lazy", and even if it did, there is nothing morally wrong with laziness. Wage slaves are sometimes driven to suffer in jobs they hate by the fear that others would think them indolent or somehow remiss if they admitted their love of leisure and their disdain for jobs. Remember when people were saying that technology was such a huge blessing because it would take over much of the "grunt work" and provide us with more leisure time? Do you think the people who spearheaded this movement stopped pushing for progress because they feared being considered lazy? On the contrary…leisure was seen as a good thing, not just what you do when you're not at your job. Leisure is much more than just the time you have when you're not getting paid. Refer to our new definitions above.

For me the process I've described above was necessary before I could really, seriously consider the alternatives to taking a wage slave job. I've gone into detail here about my struggles in the hopes that I'll be able to shed some light on the portion of living a job-free life that can't be addressed by having more money. That part, I've found, isn't very glamorous, but it's a crucial step. I know it's only part of the story, though - so Part Two of "What I Learned When I Quit My Job" will offer some down-to-earth, practical suggestions that I have found useful in my quest for a job-free life. Until then…good luck. Believe in yourself. You can realize your own unique beauty and go after your dreams.





A lot of this has to do with self-respect and delving within oneself and asking questions that most of us don't want to ask.

However, if you know you're selling yourself short living as you are now, then there's really no thought needed as to which path to take; stifled, or free?

There will be some more posts on this subject coming soon - my latest escapade is my move of location to southern New Zealand to Queenstown. Yet again I can experiment with some of the afformentioned ideas and theories, in realtime and see where the balance lies in the toss up between 'to work, or not to work?'

Hopefully you've taken something from all of this. And if you haven't, well, then you're one of those then aren't you...


Blessings,


Links; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-work
http://www.whywork.org/about/features/books/leisuretrack.html