Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is Your Reason Why?

Why? Why do you want personal freedom? Why do you want to Live Free? What is your reason Why?

I pose this question simply because this may be the most important time ever to claim your personal freedom and want to live free.

We live in a world of rapid change. The population of the world has increased from two billion to 7 billion in only 84 years. The population of the U.S. has more than doubled from 151 million in 1950 to 313 million in 2012, a mere 62 years. In fact, the population has increased by approximately 335% in the past 100 years.

So, what's the big deal? It's actually quite simple. More people exponentially require more government and more laws and regulations at all levels. The population explosion of the last 100 years has required more resources and depleted those resources faster than all of the past history of the world. More energy, more infrastructure and increased costs of everything are the rule. And with the amazing advances in technology we've seen human labor become less relevant.

On the one hand, there have been many, many advances in the human experience in this country. However, on the other hand, the bigger anything becomes the more difficult it is to find balance. Since the end of World War II and more precisely after 1950 this country continually became more arrogant and over indulgent. This has, again, on one hand, made us the envy of the world and, at the same time, turned the U.S. into the target of massive numbers of the world population, possibly numbering in the billions, who feel that we flaunt our excesses in their faces and interfere in their cultures and lifestyles.

Do I feel it's wrong to enjoy a good life and lifestyle? Absolutely not! But, this goes back to my earlier statement about finding balance. Even within our own borders, divisions are forming between what is becoming a more defined class system. Changes in our economic structure, more government laws and regulations, technological advances, the obsolescence of older, no longer relevant technology and crumbling cities and infrastructure are impacting the society and culture of the U.S. Continuing mass unemployment while not creating enough new jobs to even meet the needs of new people entering the workforce seem to be a trend. Add to this a failing educational system and students beginning their careers carrying massive debt on their shoulders with a bleak outlook for being able to repay the debt.

Then we can add an umbrella over all of this of a government that is probably more dysfunctional than at any other time in the country's history. Scandals are stacking up like pancakes. Government excess and spending is out of control. The government continues to wrack up more debt everyday, still without a plan to generate the revenue to pay down this debt or to cut the fat from government spending to reduce expenditures. The government paper mill continues to grow along with the burgeoning levels of bureaucracy and red tape that fosters fraud and corruption while denying helping those people truly in need in anything remotely resembling a timely manner. This includes returning wounded members of the military, veterans of the current and past wars, truly disabled individuals and seniors who have lost much of their small retirement funds and pensions through the recent Great Recession. Many of these seniors have to take on menial, minimum wage jobs to barely make ends meet, thus denying entry level jobs to young people who are just starting out.

I could go on and on and make this sound gloomier and gloomier, but that's not the point. This isn't speculation. This all exists. The problems and challenges are legion, and while it's easy to point fingers and blame the government or big business or the world economy, that's simply passing the buck. The reality is that we, each of us individually and collectively, are responsible. We elected the current and past governments. We haven't held them to task. We have bought into the excess I mentioned earlier. We've become more and more dependent on the government to be responsible for us. And, of course, while we know there are no free lunches, we still seem to think there is. Everything the government giveth costs money and, typically, it costs the government considerably more to provide all the "free" lunches than if we bought the lunch ourselves.

So, the more the responsibility we allow the government to take over for us, the less freedom we have. Of course, we don't realize that our freedom is being eroded. It happens in small increments. Each new law and regulation has some impact on each of us even though it may be focused on someone, some business or institution three or four parties removed from us. We're losing our freedom little bit by little bit. It's like the often-quoted story of the frog sitting in a pot of water. As the heat is turned up and slowly comes to a boil, the frog is ultimately cooked alive. But, science has proved this to be a myth. The frog will actually jump out of the pot before it boils. We humans, on the other hand, actually stay in the pot until it's too late. We're cooked.


So, again, I ask Why? If you're reading this blog, you're obviously interested in personal freedom and living free. You want to jump out of the pot of water as you feel it heating up. But, life is so much more complicated than it was in 1950 when there was less than half the population or in 1913 when there was less than one-third the current population in the U.S. We know and accept that everything was much simpler at those earlier times. People were more self-reliant. There were no government safety nets or, at best, very few by the 1950's. Yet, people still lived fulfilling lives.

The vast majority of the population today doesn't remember those days. The Baby Boomer generation was growing up during the last of those days as the transition began to where we are today. While life was tougher for most folks, those folks were also freer and more independent. They maintained closer family ties. There were stronger bonds with friends. Neighbors knew each other and looked out for one another. We know the Great Depression years were extremely difficult, but people were stronger and made it through. There was no unemployment insurance and no Social Security or disability benefits. Medicare and Medicaid hadn't come into existence until the mid '60's. Families, neighbors, churches or other religious organizations provided welfare. But, as tough as it all sounds, people were still freer than they are today with all the entitlement programs, government intervention and other government dictates.

Somewhere inside every human there is a heart beating, wanting to be freer and happier. But, most people today have become conditioned to the government usurping more and more freedom in exchange for the government doing more, providing more, taking over more of our lives and making us less self-reliant. So, we have traded freedom for government mandated and controlled security. That's the price we pay for the government looking out for our "welfare" and providing "social" security. What we're finding out is that the government does a pretty lousy job of providing the security we believe we're "entitled" to, but alas, it's too late. We're in the pot and the water is boiling. We're no longer as self-reliant or free to make our own decisions and choices. We have less control of our own circumstances and lives.

Important Time To Claim Your Personal Freedom

So, is it too late? Are you going to boil in the government's pot of entitlements and security? The answer is yes and no. It is definitely too late for those in our society who have bought into the myth that the government is here to help us and provide us with a secure life. That's not the true function of any government. The government's purpose is to provide protection of our individual rights, provide security of our persons and property and provide defense against invasion and takeover by one or more foreign powers. That's on the simplest level and since I believe in the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), I think all governments should be kept as simple as possible. But, all levels of government in our country are anything but simple. Whatever comes after incredibly complicated or complex is still an understatement in describing our system of government.

However, there are some small segments of the population who are not completely buying into the complexity and the welfare and social state our governments have become. Unfortunately, it's impossible to eliminate all aspects of government from our lives. Some Native American Indian nations have their own governments. The Amish communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other parts of the U.S. also live in communities they have cultivated and continue to live as they have for centuries with their own social order. There are other small groups who, while living within the United States, basically separate themselves from what we would term as mainstream American society. Typically, these communities live very simple lives, practice thrift and educate their children in their own cultural ways.

There appears to be a growing number of people who are embracing the concept of personal freedom, independent thinking, self-reliance and self-sufficiency. These individuals are from all walks of life and all levels of social strata. Some are skilled artisans and crafts people. Others have advanced education with all types of college degrees. Some are stationary and develop small communities of like-minded individuals, much like a commune.

Still others have reverted back to their nomadic roots. Their homes are typically mobile and their homes are on wheels in a variety of forms. Some work traditional jobs all kinds and their co-workers and employers may not have a clue where and how they live on their off-work hours. Others operate small businesses of all kinds. They may be musicians, photographers, artists, writers, crafters, consultants and mystery shoppers to mention only a few. Some may have Ebay, Amazon and Craig's List businesses. Still others may pick up seasonal work or work camping jobs with campgrounds, state and national parks, companies like Amazon and others.

Usually, they find some way of generating revenue that requires minimal time, is something they thoroughly enjoy doing and returns enough income to support their lifestyle as they are living free and getting to do all the things they enjoy doing. In other words, they are not working to support a mortgage company or landlord, vehicle finance company or anyone else. They are working to provide themselves with enough money to allow them the most time to enjoy doing all the things life offers.

These freedom loving people are men and women and range from young adults to seniors in their retirement years. They are not impressed by status, but by creativity and ingenuity. They are generous with their time, knowledge and experience in helping others who have chosen this lifestyle to get started or to make improvements. They, of course, comply with the laws of the land. They are not derelicts or street people who beg or harass mainstream society. To the contrary, they prefer to avoid most involvement with the mainstream. They do not want to hassle anyone nor be hassled by anyone, especially the police and other government authorities that would like them to stay within the nice little boxes the mainstream population are conditioned to and conform to.

Now, here's the thing. When the going gets tough for those in mainstream society, it usually doesn't impact these folks who have chosen to live free. They have learned how to depend as little as possible on the government and the authorities. If there are benefits they have earned during their lifetime, they expect to receive those benefits since they invested time or money or both in those benefits. But, they are not looking for handouts. They are self-sufficient. They don't need a microwave to eat healthy food. They don't need a modern bathroom to keep clean and practice good personal hygiene. They are not concerned if there are massive layoffs in global, Fortune 1000 companies, because they know how to be flexible and create products and services to generate the income they require. They are typically debt free, so they are not concerned about having their home or vehicles foreclosed on or repossessed. They are frugal and thrifty and know how to clothe and supply their needs on-line or at thrift stores, flea markets, Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

Some earn very substantial incomes from their various enterprises. They learn how to live well with only what they need, splurging when the right opportunity comes along. The rest they set aside for the proverbial rainy day or unfortunate circumstance that might require them to take some time off. There is something to achieving this level of personal freedom that provides peace of mind and fulfillment, knowing that you are in control of your own life or at least as much as anyone can be in this very complicated world we live in.

The key question is do you want to continue living in the mainstream world with all the complexities, demands, controls, restrictions, rules and so on? Do you want to be controlled by a job, a traditional business, the moneylenders, the government and the neighbors who believe you should conform to the rest of the neighborhood? Do you want to live with the constant stress of realizing that any number of outside forces could drastically alter your lifestyle in a moment?

This is why now is the right time to claim your personal freedom and begin living free. There are only two main things you have to decide to begin your quest for personal freedom and living free. You must define what living free means to you and what changes you are willing to make to embrace this new lifestyle. Few people ever return to the stress of their old lifestyle once they have tasted personal freedom, happiness and fulfillment. 


Per-Gunnar H Ågren said...

Hi Ed, I have been following you blog for a while now, and like it.

Yes, it is all about finding your own balance. I am on this path towards freedom also. Very Good Post.

Marshall Ellgas said...

Entering into the "free life" was the best decision we ever made. The greatest pleasure was returning to a sense of peace we had not felt since childhood. No stress and commonsense living really bring out the best in us and set us up for success on/in any angle of this mission. I mean, really, how much money does it take to live? Money does not define us. In fact, nothing defines us. We do not judge ourselves or others. Money issues do not totally define the "free life" for us. One must be free of all judgments and ego and just "be" to live the "free life." To quote a rich man, "it's simple, but not easy." One must constantly be aware of any and all thoughts and gentle enough to tame the beast called mind. Over time you become freer and freer. Its an ongoing mission. Money and societal issues actually play such a small role in the "free life" that in short order they become meaningless. What was once matterful becomes meaningless. That is free.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,
It would be interesting to find out how many people actually do try this lifestyle but then go back. I know I fall into the category of "Few people ever return to the stress of their old lifestyle once they have tasted personal freedom, happiness and fulfillment." After having tasted the lifestyle, I did in fact return to the mainstream lifestyle. I didn't really realize what I had. I was still blinded by what society expected of me and felt I had to comply or try to comply as I had tried to fit in all my life and never did. Oh I had tons of friends it wasn't that kind of "never fit in" that I experienced. It was that I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn't want to do the same things others wanted to do...marry, have kids, buy a house, etc.. I did those things, but I still didn't feel like I did them very well and I still didn't feel like I fit in.
This past year, I realized that being a v-dweller was where I "fit" in. I get itchy feet, I love the city and I love the country. I have to have both to be totally happy. Mainly I need the city to remind me of how much I don't like the city! I love people, and need them just as all people need other people, but then I want to be alone more than most main stream people need to be alone. As a v-dweller, I can go to the city and re-learn the lesson that it is not a place that loves me, but that the forest is. As a v-dweller, I can hook up with other v-dwellers to get the emotional support that I need (like I really do belong to a community!) and then go off by myself and live with nature.
Can I live main stream successfully? No. Can I be like others who live main stream? No. Can I think like they do? NO. Even those who are main stream who support me in my lifestyle think I am a bit "weird". But it is the way I am wired and in the end I am at peace, which I am not in the main stream lifestyle. And for me, that is the key. Peace. I can find happiness in the main stream lifestyle, I can find happiness as a v-dweller. I cannot find peace in the main stream lifestyle, I can find peace as a v-dweller.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thank you Per-Gunnar,

I'm pleased that you're enjoying my blog in Sweden. I hope I can keep providing information you find useful in your path toward living free. I notice you have a lot of blogs listed including about living free and simplifying. I plan to take some time and look at your blogs and will add any that seem appropriate for readers of my Living Free . . . blog to my Blog Roll.


Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

WOW! So well said, Marshall --

I am looking forward to meeting up with you later in June. We are going to have so much to talk about and I know I'm going to learn a lot from both of you. I hope you'll gain something of value from me, too.

Your points about Money issues and ego and being non-judgmental are so very much in tune with my journey and what I've been learning over the past few years. You said " returning to a sense of peace" that you hadn't felt since childhood. See the next comment from Trisha - that seems to be a common chord in the living free experience and lifestyle.

Thanks for this great comment.


Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Hiya Dr. Trisha --

I have to make the same exclamation I made about Marshall's comment - WOW!

So, you are a living testament to trying both the mainstream, conforming lifestyle and the non-conforming living free lifestyle and you had to come right back to living free. You made some excellent points. Needless to say, anyone who doesn't "conform" to what "they" all thing and believe is weird. That's why the commune living hippies of the 60's and 70's were cast as outcasts from society. Yet, they lived together in harmony with little need from the mainstream conformity world and all their rules and laws and regulations. They all contributed, they worked out their differences, they were happy and they experienced that inner peace.

It all seems so simple to those of us who choose to back away from all the complexity, "stuff," laws, rules and regulations that must be adhered to if one chooses to live in mainstream society and certainly, as Marshall noted above, learning to live frugally, without ego and not being judgmental of others certainly lends to both the happiness and peace you described.

I grew up in the great megalopolis we call the New York City metro area, so I know urban and suburban living. I've also lived in more countrified and rural areas and found I'm much more attuned to it. But, like you, I do go to the "Big Cities" periodically to take advantage of some of the amenities, but mainly when I'm there, it reminds me of why I choose to not live or stay there very long.