Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Failure, as usual

Well, I failed to get up early enough and get together the gumption to play pipes in downtown Willimantic on the Fourth of July. There would have been a good audience for the parade and the road race, but I slept in. I thought I could stay up til 8:30 AM, but I crashed at about 6. I did play for a while on my front lawn and entertained a few folks. Some of the playing wasn't great--I was trying out some of my new, hard material.

Another opportunity for failure emerges tomorrow. I have a chiropractor's appointment in the morning across town. I plan to bike there and back. I will have to stop and get some meds at the pharmacy tomorrow, as well. With hope, I can make one trip.

Contemplation of the moneyless condition has led me to believe that I might be too lazy for it. I hate to drive, but I like it better than walking or biking the distances that dominate modern suburban life. Likewise, with food and shelter, I like meat, air conditioning and heat and I prefer shopping to foraging or farming. "There's got to be some way out of this place said the joker to the king." The suffocating hierarchic totalitarian capitalist system or a lifetime of drudgery just to survive. Oh, and complete isolation from friends, family, and my long-suffering spouse. I'm hoping to ease that isolation tomorrow with some social interaction.

I hoped to develop some new social contacts locally during this experiment, but I haven't done any of that so far. Part of my reason for going 6 weeks rather than a day or week or month is that I wanted to force myself to have to see other people and interact with them, even give and receive with them. Otherwise, I'm just hiding out here not learning anything about going moneyless except that there's some cool stuff on Netflix Instant.

Going to read Tonya's story tomorrow--that should be interesting, and I can send her my thoughts on it, which will be a nice way of flexing old fiction muscles.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Six weeks free from using money and driving

I'm currently conducting an experiment to see what it would be like not using money or driving for six weeks. I'd at first decided not to blog this experiment because let's face it, my moneyless forays have failed utterly in the past. I think I made it one week the last time I tried this experiment. I didn't want to make a big announcement that I was going moneyless for six weeks and then have to post the next day that I drove to an appointment with my chiropractor.

So far so bad, actually. I haven't used money to buy anything but I drove back from the train station yesterday. My wife drove herself to the train station yesterday and I relented and drove the car back home. I suspect I'll pick her up next week at the train station as well unless I can find some way around it.

But that's only half the story. For this moneyless experiment, I'd hoped to solve the main problem with my last, week-long moneyless experiment, and, no, it wasn't the distance to the chiropractor's office. It was social isolation. I play in a band, I visit people I know, I go to friends' gigs, I go out to lunch with people. I did none of that when I tried going moneyless before and it resulted a complete disconnection from my friends and colleagues. This time, I reckoned, I would develop closer ties within human-powered travel distance from my house. So far, though, I've failed completely on that front. I've pretty much stayed in the house and not seen anyone or done anything in the community.

However, today I walked down to Walgreens and picked up a prescription. (There was no copay.) On the walk, I identified a number of edible forage plants that I didn't know grew in town. I also spoke to my neighbor and she asked if I was going to the Fourth of July boom-box parade downtown tomorrow. What a great idea! I think I make take the bagpipes down there and play either before of after the parade at the war memorial. What a great way to meet people and enjoy some time with other people. Sounds like a plan!

I also had an idea for another experiment. When I was walking back, I walked by a church where services had just finished and people were leaving. I wondered what would happen if I stuck my thumb out and tried to beg a ride. It's nominally a Christian church, but I wonder how many people would be charitable enough to stop and essentially offer what amounts to almost nothing in actual money costs to someone in need. I thought it might be more fun to do this with the a small handwritten sign that says "A true Christian would help" and have someone videotape the interactions (or lack of interactions) I would have with the parishioners. Then I could post the edited videos from a variety of different churches on youtube or somewhere. I'll have to think about think about how to do that--I have a friend who might have the time and interest.

That got me thinking about interviewing religious people and asking them how they live their faiths and what that would mean to them. Most religions give lip service to helping others and eschewing wealth. Jesus was pretty explicit about it, for example, telling people to abandon their families, give all their wealth to the poor, and follow him. I just wonder how people square participating in money-based industrial civilization if they're religious. Suelo has a great discussion of what all the major world religions say about money at his website, Living Without Money:

Here's the One Point We Know the World's Religions Agree Upon (in Word)