Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What I have been reading - "The Man Who Quit Money" and "Free"

I read these two really interesting books from the library recently, both with a similar ilk, and yet both so different.
Both books are about people who came to choose to live without money, but both for very different reasons.
In "The Man Who Quit Money" the author tells the story of Suelo who commits, over a period of time to live without money.  His motivation is a spiritual one, having studied many of the worlds religions and coming from a Christian background he sees the only way to truly follow the teachings of Christ is to sell everything he has and quit money.  He sees no way of living in the money system which doesn't involve harming others or himself in some way.
The book tracks his remarkable journey through life and shares how he got to be where he is today (living in a cave in the mountains in Utah) it also tells how he lives off food that others have thrown out or don't need and enables us to get to know the man as a friend; humorous, humble, brave, ernest.  The book is very poetic in the way it is written and is very spiritual, it is inspiring but as much as the author tries to show how Suelo doesn't see himself as any kind of guru, it definitely leaves you feeling like he is on a pedestal, doing something totally unachievable to the ordinary person.  However this did not diminish my enjoyment of the book. What is frustrating about borrowing books from the library is you're not supposed to write in them so I have nothing to quote having not underlines any of my favorite passages; so here are a couple of quotes I found online:

“It made Daniel think. The people who had the least were the most willing to share. He outlined a dictum that he would believe the rest of his life: the more people have, the less they give. Similarly, generous cultures produce less waste because excess is shared, whereas stingy nations fill their landfills with leftovers.” 

Chance is God. To know the mind of Chance you must break all attachments (preplanning) and move with chance. Faith = taking a chance."

"I'm realizing that anything motivated by money is tainted, containing the seeds of destruction. That's the struggle - guess that's why Van Gogh couldn't sell his paintings - they had to be pure. There is no honest profession - that's the paradox. The oldest profession [prostitution] is the most honest, for it exposes the bare bones of what civilization is all about. It's the root of all professions." 




Free is the story of one woman's decision to live for a year without money as a personal challenge and to show others that it is possible.  She survives in London by living in a variety of squats and eating food from shop bins.  I enjoyed reading Katherine Hibbert's adventure and learned a lot about squatting and raiding dustbins, it would be a useful read for anyone who is thinking of squatting for whatever reason.  It includes lots of interesting statistics and sometimes surprising and shocking facts about quantities of food discarded and the numbers of uninhabited (but perfectly habitable) properties in the UK.  The marked difference between these two books was the motivation for their situations, Suelo had a deeply spiritual reason for living for free where as Katharine chose to on an apparent whim.   What I found amusing about Katharine's books was that as soon as she was settled in a squat she began gathering possessions, perhaps partly to show the reader how much useful stuff ends up in landfill, but also partly I think because she had some kind of ingrained instinct or desire to gather things.  A strong contrast to Suelo who chose to live with as few possessions as possible. 




In spite of the frivolous nature of Katharine's journey I still enjoyed the book and felt inspired by both of them to live a life with less stuff.
I had already concluded that more stuff just makes you stressed, tired, worried and anxious, but it was good to have this view reaffirmed by two very different books. 

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