“From my tribe I take nothing, I am the maker of my own fortune.”
I am a very fortunate man. Although I have not historically been compelled to amass large sums of money and what might be considered material fortune, I am remarkably blessed to have cultivated some wonderful relationships with several outstanding people while thoroughly enjoying a dizzying number of incredible moments. When I shared my intention for living a year without money, I received many offers for help from a variety of good folks, from food and shelter to tools and transportation, and just enjoyed the ride, appreciative of the knowledge that whatever universal energies have been conspiring to provide for my life up to this point would keep up the good work. However, since I joined the ranks of the homeless and found my way out again, I have noticed many folks who feel much less fortunate than I, and quite a few of them have a steady stream of money to provide their basic needs.
Part of my fortune lies in the fact I have learned to find fortune everywhere. Even when I have fallen on hard times (or when they have fallen on me), I have still maintained the arguably maniacal outlook of idealism, in at least the resilience I have in riding it out. This generally comes from faith in a Higher Intelligence which has constantly taught me new things about myself and the world around me, and which I believe is sculpting me into a man who can make a positive difference in the world. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my faith, and when many of them go through hard times, they do not necessarily do it in as buoyant a fashion as I.
Perhaps it is my desire to always look for the positive, or perhaps it is because I have not been kicked as hard as other people. I have been extremely blessed to have been born a white male with bright blue eyes, a healthy head of hair, what has been called an infectious smile, and what some consider to be handsome features. I also have an affable personality, and I think I shine best when I’m acting, playing guitar, or delving into some other creative act. Admittedly, this may make it a little easier for me to approach other people, and ask for or offer help as it is needed. This is all to say that although I may drift down to a level of society which may be deemed as a hard knock life, there seems to always be someone getting knocked harder than me.
Years ago, when I was backpacking through Santa Fe, I met a homeless man playing a didgeridoo. An artistic type who enjoyed his leisure time with Buddha-like sensibilities, I asked him about how he found food and basic needs. His reply was “Life provides,” and throughout all of my explorations of whatever limitations I’ve subjected myself to, I have found this to be very true.
Yet there are many who cannot see the good life provides. Instead, having been raised in a culture that leverages scarcity for financial gain, they have grown accustomed to the challenges life provides, each day a struggle for survival. For some, life provides an endless stream of crises which makes life itself unmanageable, and truly, as the Buddha called it, suffering.
Unfortunately, as much as I might want to, I also realize there may not be anything I can do to help a lot of these people. For some, the life of destitution is simply a habit. We learn by what we see and do day in and day out. And for many of these people, the ones who have been living on the streets for years, and the ones who grew up in the lonely lap of luxury, there is hardly any other reality they can even imagine.
Although I have high hopes for shedding light on some of the challenges in order to see the possibility of solutions, I have to swallow the harsh fact I can’t change everything for everybody. Some people, even when thrown a lifeline, won’t reach for it because their repetitive circumstances have trained them not to. Nevertheless, it is not the case for all of them, or all of us. For those who are at least willing to squint to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I do hope I can shine one bright enough to guide them toward a more fortunate reality.
Ultimately, the point of this book, and perhaps the point of my life, is to assure readers that life doesn’t suck as much as we often think it does. Or at least, it shouldn’t suck as much as we often force it to. We get obsessed sometimes with the particularities of life that don’t behave the way we think they should, but when we ease up on our need for control, and step back to look at the bigger picture, we can see even the things we consider blemishes up close add great beauty to the larger portrait of life.
Some of the particularities we’ve become attached to are ideas like money, government, property, and religion. In my exploration of the monetary system and the civilization that has borne it, I’ve noticed quite a few synchronicities which seem to have helped guide, or at least danced with, the movement of our culture over the last 11,000 years. If we are to truly rethink our economics and create the kind of sustainable world we imagine, I think it will serve us to take a broader view of the ideas that have conspired to bring us our current understanding of reality.
The better we understand where we’ve come from, the better able we’ll be to get where we’re going. Although the gist of my research has been on the monetary system, I have found that it is inextricably woven into the fabric of our civilization, affecting, or being affected by, our sexuality, our drive for power, and our ideas of faith. Since there is no quick fix for the crises of civilization, like most of my projects, this one has grown to a much grander scope.
And while people have been asking for a while to read the book about my year without money, this book isn’t about me. I’ve written my story in other books, and I would much rather tell the Story of Us. Essentially, they’re the same story, but the one about Us is quite a bit longer.
I can probably finish mine up before we even get into the meaty stuff.
As I am working on the revisions to my next book Money, Sex, Power, and Faith: The Convergence of Culture, I plan to release it, section by section, through this blog in hopes of raising awareness about the ideas in it. This segment is from the Introduction. Stay tuned as the rest unfolds…