Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it:
"If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal. The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.
For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.
The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then. We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.
But that evening I had a realisation. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.
The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.
Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.
Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today.
If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior décor.
If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t shit in it.
So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially. So I made a list of the basics I’d need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are four legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there far too much.
On my first day I fed 150 people a three course meal with waste and foraged food. Most of the year I ate my own crops though and waste only made up about five per cent my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.
Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid. I’d use wood I either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure’ for my veggies.
I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan. For loo roll I’d relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn’t double quilted but it quickly became normal. To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I’d use beeswax candles.
Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.
Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.
Could we all live like this tomorrow? No. It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both it and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both. But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not? For over 90 per cent of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money. Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.
People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills. Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.”
Labyrinth rock carving found at Meis, Galicia, Spain, possibly from the Atlantic Bronze Age (c. 1300–700 BC)
Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked
Roads and paths pervade our literature, poetry, artwork, linguistic expressions and music. Even photographers can’t keep their eyes (and lenses) off of a beautiful road or path, which is why we collected this list of 28 amazing photos of paths.
Paths like these have a powerful grip on the human imagination – they can bring adventure, promise and change or solitude, peace and calm. There’s nothing like a walk down a beautiful path to clear your head – or to fill it with ideas!
I’ll leave you with an excellent quote from J. R. R. Tolkien’s works while you enjoy these images; “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.“
- Autumn In The White Carpathians
- Rhododendron Laden Path, Mount Rogers, Virginia, USA
- Spring In Hallerbos Forest, Belgium
- Autumn Path In Kyoto, Japan
- Autumn Path
- Bamboo Path In Kyoto, Japan
- Hitachi Seaside Park Path In Japan
- Dark Hedges In Ireland
- Winter Forest Path, Czech Republic
- Path Under Blooming Trees In Spring
Disney x Marvel -source-
One does not simply handle the awesomeness of jack sparrow and loki in the same pic
I feel all sorts of insignificant. The world is so big and I am nothing but dust.
five sets of two hands, fingers spread wide
my best friend lying next to me squeaks out
“never have I ever masturbated”
a chortle and a shrug between the boys as they flick down their obligatory fingers
and I can’t help but feel a twinge in my stomach as my pinky follows suit
the silence in the room is thick and grey and suddenly sliced by
have you ever experienced fun?
I pull away a hair caught in my scarlet lipstick
in my reflection I see my table mate from english class
behind me she blinks twice and scoffs
“who are you trying to impress?”
the bathroom door is closed behind her before I can ask
the last time she did something to impress herself.
before a trip to the mall
one of my friends spends two hours
perfecting her bronzer
and choosing the perfect pair of shoes
the other rubs in dry shampoo
and is out the door in less than five minutes
they are two of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen.
my father calls me beautiful through a mouthful of popcorn
as I pour a glass of milk to accompany my now third piece of leftover birthday cake
he plants a kiss on my cheek and I grin as I wipe it away.
she asks me what to do to start loving herself
and I send her away to my full length mirror
and demand to only speak to her
when she’s found something to adore
the way I did with my knobby knees
and tiger-striped hips
and big square teeth
fifteen minutes go by
and she finally points to the freckles on her nose
splits into a grin
the one that makes everyone weak in the knees
and I watch the lightbulb go off above her head
as she realizes
it’s never been her job to hate her body
i tell my sister she looks cute today
and the look on her boyfriend’s face
when she blurts out “damn right I do!”
I used to worry that I’d never find someone who loved me at all
and now my biggest fear
is finding someone who can adore me as much as I’ve come to.