In deciding to live without money for a year, I realized I was not the only one who had issues with the monetary system. Shortly after I made my decision in the summer of 2011, I started seeing how the Occupy movement was starting on Wall Street, giving me a boost of encouragement that I was not the only one seeking a better way. As the movement spread, so did my motivation for finding an alternate route to abundance.
Although my decision prodded me on toward a somewhat transient lifestyle, I still used money from time to time as work came and went. I wasn’t consumed by it, not that I ever really have been, but I still found myself grasping for it from time to time and relying it on like a man sitting in a chair made of matchsticks. However, finally, in November, I reignited my flame of independence, let the chair smolder and decided to stand on my own to feet by attempting to not use money for a year.
In all honesty, I didn’t really make it. Although I managed to carve out an incredibly abundant life outside of the direct current of capitalism, I did have one person give me a few gift cards for helping him with some labor on one of his properties, and during the last couple of weeks, I got a stipend to install the Labyrinth of the Unbroken Path and play music at ArtSlam in Bradenton so I used it to get some incidentals. Since I didn’t fully reach my goal, I haven’t made as much noise about my year without money as I could have, and skeptics have been quick to point out that money was still used as an ancillary provision in order to pay for the electricity, food, and water I consumed and the infrastructure that I scurried around in.
Yet beyond my fallibilities and imperfections, I’ll be the first to admit that the world I live in is largely fueled by money. For the time being, there is no escaping that. I’m only one man and do not have any grand delusions about changing the world overnight.
Nevertheless, during my lifestyle experiment, and in the time since, life provided me with an excellent pair of wheels that helped strengthen my legs for conveyance, and by working with Transition Sarasota’s gleaning project, at times, the majority of my diet consisted of organic leafy greens offered to me as a gift for my service of harvesting vegetables for the hungry. Housing was usually provided through bartering my services as either a handyman or pet sitter. Beyond that, life just provided the way it often does.
Just as the chasm between rich and poor continues to widen in this country, I feel that the use of money often serves to separate us from our fellow man. By not using it, I was much more inclined to develop stronger relationships with the people in my community, realizing these relationships to offer much more abundance than the proxy of US currency ever has. However, the greatest source of wealth I have found as of late is merely the gift of presence and realizing how much the world has to offer beyond what I can buy in the store.
If you are interested in life without money, these folks are starting a really interesting conversation on it.