Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ground rules


Going purely moneyless is a difficult option for me for four reasons:

  1. I am married and my wife definitely does not want to go moneyless.
  2. I have several chronic medical conditions that require approximately $15,000 in medication and more in tests and doctor visits per year merely to keep me in a reasonably non-dying condition.
  3. I am a seasoned indoorsman with little or no knowledge of basic outdoor activities and extreme vulnerability to outdoor menaces, such as West Nile virus and skin cancer.
  4. I am a musician who wants to continue playing the instruments I have. I play bagpipes and guitar and each require the acquisition of small amounts of maintenance and other items from time to time, not limited to reeds, strings, and repair services. Also, rehearsals and performances require some mode of transport, and, though I endeavor to reach these through human power alone at some point, that is not feasible right now.

To sum it up, if I went completely moneyless and attempted to live an outdoor-oriented, hunter-gatherer existence, I would likely be dead within a year. Further, I fear that I would have to give up playing music with the people and in the venues that I have been. That fear is probably ungrounded, and I seek to overcome it. However, the immediate prospect of losing performance opportunities works against my central ambition -- to do what I do for love, so I have created rules to protect that part of my life in the meantime. The ground rules that flow from these circumstances are as follows:

  1. Don't use money unless I've exhausted other alternatives and I face health or well-being consequences.
  2. I will accept gifts, including the purchase of gasoline, health insurance, medical services, and medications, freely/gleefully offered by my wife or any willing patrons.
  3. I will accept money for musical performances that I would have performed anyway. This will help offset the costs of transportation and instrument maintenance, if those become an issue.
  4. I will occasionally make purchases or barter to improve the moneyless sustainability of my life. This is a controversial rule for me because it's very difficult in practice to distinguish consumerist indulgence from sustainable acquisition. To help limit this expenditure category, I will offset all such purchases through the liquidation of existing possessions. For example, I am purchasing virtually indestructible plastic bagpipes to replace my fragile, maintenance-prone blackwood set. I will offset the purchase by selling the old set.
  5. I will liquidate unused or unnecessary possessions through donation and sale. Proceeds from sales will go into a joint bank account in order to provide my wife some relief in knowing that I'm not completely insane. She will have use of this cash, which is fitting and proper, since I won't.

As you can see, I am not a purist, like Daniel Suelo, who hasn't used money of any kind for exchange nor used any for-pay services for the past 9 years. (BTW I am a big fan of his blog and website -- see the links below.) I am more of the mind of Ran Prieur (see link below), who recommends a more gradual approach to going moneyless. What I take from his philosophy is that as members of an industrialized society, we no longer have the knowledge, skills, and natural inclinations to live in a moneyless way. Deep down, we are money-based, despite whatever vows or pledges we take, and breaking this attachment is painful and difficult, not the least because important parts of us still crave the warm feelings that having and getting money produce.

My hope is that, through the exercise of these rules, I can free myself from attachment to cash and the exchange mentality.

Next post: Why? What is point of all this?

Links for this post:

Daniel Suelo's sites
Moneyless World -- Free World -- Priceless World
Living Without Money

Ran Prieur's site
Ran Prieur

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