Thursday, February 23, 2012

Virtues from necessity

Spent the day wallowing in self-pity.   Didn't want to be at work.  Getting sick of dominance displays, need a vacation.  But I did get through the day and, after getting ashes rubbed on my head, am feeling pretty sprightly.  The sun came out and I managed to get a short walk in which brightened my mood considerably
Found a new site that may well be of interest.  I am putting this onto my reads list,   overall good.  You ought to consider putting him on your reading list.

Bu there is this one series of articles that he wrote that just makes me pee my pants laughing.

I am struck by the idea that one needs to be told how to be poor.  Man, it is easy as falling off a log.  All you have to do is run out of money.  Things pretty much take their own path after that point.

Everyone in America today is looking at a reality where poor becomes the norm.  Oh, some folks will manage to slip through without much in the way of a lifestyle loss.  But I think that those kind of folks are going to be the exception not the rule.

No, this guy seems to think that he can peer into the wizened future and tell you how to be poor in such a manner that you will even manage to enjoy it.


Having grown up on the poor side, from a family a short step away from being Italian peasants, poor is nothing new nor is it particularly attractive.  It is just the state of affairs where you sometimes currently reside.  You may be able to drift away from it, but it is always there in the background, patiently waiting for a chance to return to center stage.

Now, when you make a conscious choice to embrace poverty, there can be some spiritual and ethical rewards.  No one is going to deny this.  But it is the rare cat who chooses this route.  I can find no historical record of a society that has voluntarily chosen that route.

Even if the choice is made the life is hard.  But the poverty that is forced is a different ball of wax altogether.  The bulk of America is being forced into poverty, and that is going to be damned interesting.

Both voluntary and involuntary poverty consist of hard and grinding work.  Even living with folks in your same circumstances, the work and effort are endless and tiring.  The rewards and pleasures are few and scanty, and your life goes skating too close to line far too often.

The best that can be said is that some folks go poor with considerably more style than others.  Maybe that is the best you can really hope for.

Because in the end, there will be a whole bunch of folks who will wish fervently to take the route of Cypher.


Oldfool said...

Thanks, it's nice and informative to read others that think being poor (whatever that is) is something you can do in comfort and style.
I was not as wise as this young at that age but on reflection I see that I was sowing the seed that I'm harvesting now.

Joel Caris said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the link, the recommendation, the feedback and the laughter. Hopefully you got those pants washed.

As I wrote in the third part of that somewhat rambling introduction, I'm not really particularly poor myself. In way of income, yes, many people would consider me poor. And in lifestyle, I suppose many in this country would, as well, but that's only due to a distorted viewpoint. I have a level of comfort and security that belies the idea that I'm living in poverty.

In that sense, I'm probably engaging in a bit of dangerous rhetoric by using the terms "poor" and "poverty." I talk in the second part of the introduction as to why I'm using those, rather than voluntary simplicity. Perhaps I should have gone with frugality, which seems to be a word people are using a bit more honestly.

But essentially, it's a series of articles that's intended to help people do exactly what you write about at the end of your post: go poor with style. My gazing into the future has come up with the same conclusions yours has, which is that most all of us are going to be a lot more poor in the future, due to realities we aren't going to have much influence on. Therefore, it makes sense to me to begin adjusting our lifestyles and expectations now and figuring out where happiness might lie in that new reality.

Of course, I don't really know what that reality will be, but I imagine it'll involve a lot more physical labor, for starters. And so it's helpful to find the joy in physical labor. Maybe some people can't find that; I really like it. So I write about that. (One of my biggest failings--which has and will continue to come out in the blog, I imagine--is the tendency to broaden out my experiences and perspectives to everyone else.)

I'm writing about voluntary poverty, not crushing forced poverty. There's no sense in trying to write about that, of course--or a guide, anyway--because, as you note, that shows up when you run out of money and you have no recourse. But if that day does arrive, you might be a little better off in it if you're used to living on a few thousand dollars a year without too many frills and conveniences rather than living a standard Middle class American lifestyle.

And that's the lifestyle I'm writing about. It's the lifestyle that I imagine a lot of my readers have some familiarity with, not least of all because they're reading my writing on the internet.It's the idea of how do you scale back your life and learn to start living with less money, less resources, less things and distractions when that's the life you're used to and that's the culture you're immersed in. It's an idiotic problem to have--it speaks to how very ridiculous and screwed up our reality is--but it does seem to be a problem for many people. That's what I've been working on the last few years and continue to work on, and my hope is that writing about some of the things I've figured out will help some other people who might be on the same path.

Might not help anyone. I don't get that much traffic on the blog. But I'm giving it a whirl, anyway.

Thanks again for the feedback. I hope you'll keep commenting on the blog, and feel free to challenge me there.

Of The Hands

Joel Caris said...

A bit fuller a response, though it mostly hits the same points as in my comment: Our Distorted View.