An facinating human interest story with thought provoking questions of some of the assumptions we have about life….
“In the first year of the 21st century, a man standing by a highway in the middle of America pulled from his pocket his life savings – $30 – laid it inside a phone booth, and walked away. He was 39 years old, came from a good family, and had been to college. He was not mentally ill, nor an addict. His decision appears to have been an act of free will by a competent adult…..
“I know it is possible to live with zero money,” Suelo declares.
I had met Suelo long before he gave up money, in Moab, Utah, a haven for seekers and dropouts. We ran in the same circle, worked a stint together as cooks, and squatted on public lands. But over the years, we drifted our separate ways, geographically and otherwise.
I had heard of Daniel’s attempt to live without money, and I’d assumed he had simply lost his mind. For my part, I was no longer an itinerant river guide, but a professional writer. I had acquired a second car and a second house, contributed to a retirement account, and filed 53 pages of tax returns.
Then came 2008. Twenty trillion dollars in world assets were incinerated by bad mortgages and speculation. The real-estate bubble splattered into foreclosure and bankruptcy, taking down with it the pensions and savings and jobs of millions of people.
My paltry retirement account became paltrier.
Suddenly that big monthly payment on my home didn’t seem like money well spent. No number of trips to Home Depot would make the house worth what I had paid for it. Those naysayers who forecast that my generation, born in the 1960s and 1970s, would be the first in America’s history to be worse off than their parents: Maybe they had a point.
Suelo meanwhile had gained a little notoriety, thanks to stories in Details magazine and the Denver Post, and an interview with the BBC. His blog and website got tens of thousands of hits. As I pored over the writings he had compiled, from Thomas Jefferson and Socrates, I began to think about the choices he had made. Here was someone who had said all along what the rest of us were being forced to contemplate for the first time, now that our bubble of prosperity had burst: money was an illusion.
“I simply got tired of acknowledging as real this most common worldwide belief called money,” cried this voice in the desert. “I simply got tired of being unreal.” …..
Daniel had opted out entirely, rejected what I had pursued. What was I missing out on?
Finally I decided to find out.