"In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime,
if we will live simply and wisely; It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do."
-- Henry David Thoreau
Monday, August 06, 2007
A Message of Hope
One thing I love about this blog is that it offers an honest view of the process of moving towards one's vision. A big problem with "self-help" books and programs is that they often seem unbelievable. Why? Because the authors write them AFTER they have achieved their own vision of success. No matter how many times they say "sometimes it was tough", you get the feeling that they always felt confident-- that they always knew they would succeed.
There is a lot of that in Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Workweek. Its a great book with practical advice. But as I read it I felt an almost smug sense of confidence. Sure, when you arrive it all seems easy and pre-ordained. But when you're stuck in a crap job, depressed and frustrated... nothing seems easy.
I also admire Self-help guru Anthony Robbins for his passion, but again, when I read his books it seems like this guy was always a super-charged, enthusiastic, dedicated maniac.
So, when we read these people's books, its easy to think "they are super-human freaks and Im nothing like them".
My hope is that the extensive archives of Hobopoet will provide an antidote to those thoughts. In the archives, you find that I was frequently upset, depressed, angry, frustrated, and restless. I frequently had doubts. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed by them. You see the whole process in all its roughness. You see the occasional bitterness. You see the failed experiments. You see the desperation.
But hopefully, you'll also find some hope... knowing that despite all that I somehow find myself here... free from wage slavery at last.
So what do I have to offer, in the way of advice? What were "the secrets" to getting here?
I think I can identify four... and they are Principles, Vision, A Process, and An Attitude:
1. Principles My strategies, ideas, plans, and moods have changed constantly... and quickly. But throughout I have always had a core set of principles that have not changed. For me, these include Freedom (economic, political, social), Compassion (ie. a sincere wish that other beings be free of suffering and control), Lifelong Learning, Simplicity, etc.... You may have a different set, but the important point is that we all need a set of principles that enoble, guide, strengthen us. These are our compass.
2. A Vision My serious journey towards Freedom started in 2000. At the time, I was working a horrible wage slave job as an Emergency Room social worker in a big hospital. I was doing 12 hour days... days full of crisis and chaos. Worse, I was in a new town that I hated (Greenville, SC)... a super-conservative and very Christian enclave where I had no friends. My longtime girlfriend had just broken up with me-- and I was living alone (with my wonderful dog :) in a small, dingy apartment. I was deep in debt and had just started the process of filing for bankruptcy. I was so desperate financially that I briefly got involved with a multi-level marketing company... and was bothering my friends with ridiculous sales appeals. Truly, a low point.
But I had one important thing-- a vision of the kind of life I wanted. I knew what I wanted. I knew the kind of lifestyle that fit me and pleased me. I knew I needed an independent income-- that I HAD to be free from wage slavery. I knew I wanted plenty of time and money for travel... that I wanted to travel the world and live abroad at will. I knew I didn't want or need a big apartment or a "nice" car.. but did want enough time-money for interesting adventures. I knew I needed a community of friends who shared this vision.
Though my life sucked at that time, I never forgot the vision... and never abandoned it in the name of "realism". You must do the same. Many "responsible adults" will try to convince you that your vision is "irresponsible" or "childish" or "unrealistic" or "abnormal". They'll tell you its time to get a "real job" and settle down. They'll tell you its time to conform. Never listen to these people and, in fact, eliminate them from your life. Never forget your vision no matter how far you seem from it.
3. A Process
Compared to the "experts" and self-help gurus, I have a very simple formula for living your vision (my definition of success :)
Most people make just one small mistake.... which dooms them to servitude. Most people follow the following process:
A. Brainstorm/Think B. Analyze, Plan, Debate, Research, Contemplate C. Try/Do
In fact, most people get stuck at B. They brainstorm some cool ideas. Then they start analyzing them... weighing the pluses and minuses. They think they can predict the success or failure of the idea through analysis. But since they can never be sure, they never stop thinking, debating, analyzing, researching, etc. They never reach C.
My process makes just one small change to the formula:
A. Brainstorm/Think B. Try/Do C. Analyze, Plan, Research, Contemplate
What a difference this makes. The truth is, you can't predict anything. Forget trying to do so... its impossible. Ive been shocked by so many unexpected failures and successes that Ive realized that debate prior to action is nothing short of asinine idiocy. As the Tao Te Ching says, "those who talk don't know". To that I'd add, "Those who talk don't do". Forget talking and endless planning.
Just brainstorm some cool ideas and then try one. See what happens. Save analysis and planning for after the fact... when you have something concrete to analyze. Analyze your successes and failures, not your ideas. Do that, and you will be inexorably pulled along a path of discovery and learning. Keep doing that, and you will reach your vision.
D. An Attitude
The last key is an attitude of persistence. Its not easy to do, but persistence with equanimity as an ideal is vital. Scan my archives and you'll find I often lost my cool... but you'll also find that again and again I corrected myself and tried to re-center. I tried to regard my downs as interesting results rather than failures. I whined and raged... then got off my ass and tried something else.
Persistence is more important than cleverness. I've met countless clever people who never do a damn thing but talk cleverly. They win every argument, but remain pathetic wage slaves nonetheless. Avoid these people. Cleverness is a dangerous thing, because clever people have a way of fooling themselves more than anyone else.
Persistence is a much more useful trait. Cultivate it. Try to see experiments in terms of "results"... not in terms of "success" or "failure". Develop the skill of dusting yourself off and trying again. Learn to love the challenges... and the interesting results they bring.
Enjoy The Journey
That's the sum total of my advice... nothing too clever or amazing. As usual, the doing of it is more impressive than the talking about it.
Mostly, I want to deliver a message of hope. I know there are many people in the world like me... people who hate their jobs, people who feel trapped and degraded by employment, people who long for a freer and more adventurous life. Hobopoet is dedicated to you. To you I say, It Can Be Done.
Great stuff hobopoet! Keep talking about this subject till hurts! There are so many people who are completely unhappy and utterly defeated by their current lives.
They need to find another way.
You're kind a like the character from the book, The Little Prince, sitting on a moon somewhere, starin up at all the stars in awe of life. As a civilization, as a people, we have somehow lost that. I like what the sufi poet Jalahdin Rumi said - Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.
"Poets are those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss... Follow your bliss
and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they'd be. Always go where you want to go
-- where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling then stay with it, don't let anyone throw you off."
"When you're on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away,
then you realize that the real end is the journey."
--Karlfried Graf Durckheim
Hobopoets & Freedom Fighters (Blogs & Websites)
Hakim Bey Fantastic- The anarchist-sufi prophet of Hobopoets! Visit this site!!
Anthropik Dedicated to ecology, anarchism, and primitivism. Fantastic blog.. great compliment to Hakim Bey's ideas.
Ian Trimble A fantastic blog from a fellow Georgian Hobopoet!
Plark A traveler and hater of work.... nice thoughts on living a meaningful life.
Pupil in Denial The writings of a woman who is staunchly resistent in ever parting with her lovelylife of an undergrad slash part-time barista
which is everfaithful in churning quickmoney to satisfy her wickedwanderlust!
"Because of the dogma of workerism, unemployment is a problem rather than the boon to humanity that it should be."
"Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them....
Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually, though needlessly poor all
their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have." -- Henry David Thoreau
Green Trust Dedicated to the promotion of renewable, sustainable technologies that are used to provide Food, Water, Shelter, and other survival needs.
Campmor Great source for camping (and car living) gear. Scan their "hot deals" for cheap stuff
Rolling Times TONS of information on RVs and RVing... much of it applicable to van/car living.
"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but
positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever
lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor" -- Henry David Thoreau
"A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase in life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child....
I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man;
I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby...
And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity." --John Steinbeck, Travels With Charly
"Trust yourself to react appropriately when catastrophe happens.
Failure of nerve is really failure to trust yourself." -- Alan Watts
"The negative refusal of Home is "homelessness", which most consider a form of victimization,
not wishing to be forced into nomadology. But "homelessness" can in a sense be a virtue,
an adventure- so it appears, at least, to the huge international movement of the squatters, our modern hobos."
Vipassana Meditation Fantastic meditation courses all over the world (free)!! I HIGHLY recommend them.
"Act as if you were already free... take the risk, dance before you calcify."-- Hakim Bey
We must constantly remind ourselves (since our culture won`t do it for us)
that this monster called WORK remains the precise & exact target of our rebellious wrath,
the one single most oppressive reality we face. - Hakim Bey
Poetry, Writing, & Art
Cafe Press A fantastic self-publishing site. No upfront costs. The wave of the future for DIY publishers.
Written Road Jen Leo's travel writing site. Very good and very informative.
Published! Great site with information about being a freelance writer.
Arthur Rimbaud A glorious site with poems and a biography of the restless mad genius.
Aldous Huxley A collection of links and info on the great writer-philospher.
"In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex,
and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness" -- Henry David Thoreau
"Altough we all realize that monotony is boring, almost every form of industrial work- banking,
accounting, mass-producing, service- is monotonous, and most people are paid for simply putting up with monotony..."
Indy Media & Politics
CommonDreams A fantastic source of independent and progressive news! Highly recommended!
Flagpole Magazine Athens, Georgia's standard-bearer of indy journalism, art, and music.
Truthout Another incredible site for independent news!
Indy Media Another great source for independent news
FAIR The name says it all: Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. A media watchdog (but the name may be an oxymoron :)
Michael Moore The guy who brought us "Stupid White Men", "The Big One", and "Bowling for Columbine"
This Modern World A brilliant cartoon, more informative than most mainstream media and alot funnier
Ted Rall Biting political satire and great cartoons!
"And what is the nature of a wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do--
doing as you're told, with no courage for your own life. To live an authentic life, Take your wisdom from your own experience.
Because in thinking, the majority is always wrong." --Joseph Campbell
"All societies tremble when the scornful aristocracy of the tramps, the inaccessibles, the uniques, the rulers over the ideal,
and the conquerors of the nothing resolutely advances." --Hakim Bey
Nomadism & Travel
BootsnAll Independent travel stories from around the world. Contribute your own.
World Hum Travel dispatches from a shrinking planet. Good travel writing site.
Ajarn This is the largest and most comprehensive website for English teaching in Thailand.
Has an extensive job board, plus general information about living in Thailand
Stickman's Bangkok An in-depth site with practical information about living and working in Bangkok.
Cocky, cynical and negative- but the basic info is good.
Tealit Site for teaching English and living in Taiwan, including a job board.
Another year is gone -
A travel hat on my head,
Straw sandals on my feet
"If there's one thing I hate, it's the word "safety". We live in a civilization of safety, in which we are
eventually cocooned from all danger, that is to say, from all experience. What we are left with is a vegetable
plugged into a computer, who never leaves the room, like a hideous vision of a William Gibson novel.
We would be well advised to rediscover risk." --Hakim Bey
"Remember above all things that to write is not difficult, not painful, that it comes out of you with ease,
that you can whip up a little tale in no time, that when you are sincere about it, that when you want to impress
a truth, it is not difficult, not painful, but easy, graceful, full of smooth power, as if you were a writing
machine with a store of literature that is boundless, enormous, endless, rich. For it is true; this is so. Do
not forget it in your gloomier moments. Make your stuff warm, drive it home American-wise, don't mind critics,
don't mind the stuffy academic theses of scholars, they don't know what they are talking about, they're way
off the track, they're cold; you're warm, you're red hot, you can write all day, you know what you know...."
-- Jack Kerouac