Wednesday, November 25, 2009

dropping out and dropping in

Per Lesa's request, I'll type up some more on dropping out and dropping in. Ten years ago, I was a professional employee, complete with suit, health insurance, regular shopping trips, car, salary, and ever-increasing debt. I did NOT enjoy the middle-class life in the least, but felt trapped. I mean, I couldn't just quit my hated job, could I? How on earth, in the free-est country in the world, did I manage to enslave myself?!

I was blessed to have Michael Fogler's book Unjobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook cross my path. After reading it, I realized that with all the expenses I had from work, and all the time commitments as well, I was making chump change--and this was the "best" job I ever had! Fortunately, our at-the-time foster daughter arrived, and although I had planned on working from home, that did not work out. I quit my job and became a stay at home mom. Between diapers, spitting up, and learning to walk, somehow I found my way to paradise.

We consolidated our debt and focused on paying it off. We bought a small inexpensive house, and made extra principle payments to pay it off quicker. We kept track of where every last cent we spent went, and were appalled. We changed our behavior accordingly, shopping at 2nd hand stores and asking around for anything we needed. We grew some of our own food, and dumpster dived. The car died and was not replaced, except by bikes and a bus map. We stopped paying for entertainment, got rid of the tv, and made good friends instead.

It turns out, friends, aka community, is where it's at for me. I stopped focusing on the money economy, where scarcity rules, and started focusing on the abundance in my life, mainly human relationships. It turns out community can provide anything and everything I need, and it does, without bureaucracy, paperwork, and undignified subordination.

Sure, I still have a part-time job that pays the bills, but my bills are miniscule compared to most. I rarely shop, and if I do, it's usually for 2nd hand items, having replaced most of my "disposable" consumer goods with the real deal (hankies, cloth napkins, etc.). The waste stream in America offers plenty to choose from, as does the friend network (friendcycle). I don't know if I have amazing karma or what, but whatever I need seems to find me. I live in the hands of the gods, as do the lilies of the field, and I am cared for, without a doubt.

So when I blow my nose into what used to be my t-shirt, I don't feel any sort of hardship, just relief that I didn't have to take a bus to the store and trade my life's energy for what used to be a tree, that I'm just going to throw away anyway. When I grow my own food, I don't worry about the labor it takes to plant and harvest, I think about the good medicine entering my body, keeping me healthy. When I hang out with my friends, listening to the deafening roar of crickets punctuated by our laughter, the thought of what movie is opening this weekend doesn't even cross my mind. When I get to spend each day with my child, watching her grow and learn, I feel so blessed. There's no money in the world I would trade for these experiences.

There's dropping out of the money economy, and then there's dropping into the community economy. I've been told by people they admire me, or respect me, for my "sacrifice", but really I do it for selfish reasons. Living in a community, living in the hands of the gods--it just feels right, and it makes me happy. It's a life worth living, full of meaning. I am wealthy beyond compare. I turn my eye to look for beauty instead of despair, and amazingly, beauty is everywhere I look. I have no doubt I live in the garden, in paradise.



little castle said...

I can relate to so much you shared here. We unjobbed and dropped out of so many we could drop into the things that really make my heart sing. Loved reading your post!

Mammal_Mama said...

Wow! What an awesome blog, and I'm so glad Lesa provided the link to you!

I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past 10 years, ever since getting pregnant with my first. So we've been a one-income family, with dh sometimes going through times of unemployment, such as now.

In our case, we actually use some public assistance, but don't feel we are treated as inferior.

And we live in what many consider a "bad neighborhood." We are (I am) working to get more connected with community, because I agree with you that people are where it's at.

Lesa @ Conveniently Simplistic said...

yeah, Carey, that was awesome. I've been slowly working towards this myself. Much of it out of necessity (little $) and out of my love for our planet and it's people. Now that I quit my job back in Aug. I'm having to do even more trimming. I just feel lost at times. Using cloth instead of paper is easy. It's the other aspects of homesteading like gardening and preserving and all that that overwhelms me.

I don't think we could ever go without an auto. Decatur doesn't have busses that run in the evenings when Dayle's classes are and it's too far to bike in the dark. But since leaving my job, I drive as little as possible. When she goes to her activities across town, I stay instead of driving back home or to the store so I save $ by using less gas.

D. Lollard said...

Every person/family/household/neighborhood/city has to do what works for them. Take it slow and easy, one step at a time. Heck, since I moved out from Carey's I've been starting over not just from zero but more like from negative one. And, Carey will assure you, I move VERY slowly. But--still no TV, still don't miss it.

Chronologically for us, I think first unplugging, then eventually getting rid of, the TV was our first major step. Then we heard about Un-Jobbing (it was mentioned in Daniel Quinn's Beyond Civilization) and read it. Around the same time, we were getting started on getting rid of debt. At some point, I stopped wearing a wristwatch.

There times when we had a car but no phone, and times when we had a phone but no car. I'm a little bit surprised Carey hasn't rid herself of the Internet yet (though I have a hunch why).

When people say "community" I often feel they're referring to organized groups, and while they're not necessarily bad, I find so much more satisfaction with the community of like-minded friends and (if you're lucky) family. Just having free time (from unjobbing and unschooling) allows one to invest in quality time together, everyone helping everyone out as needs and surpluses and opportunities arise. The love around me overwhelms me sometimes. That's a feeling I've never gotten from a job!

It's an always ongoing experiment, and experiment means PLAY.

Caeseria said...

Appropriate subject for the day before Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful you're my friend.