This is it.

I saw an article today - about a bloke who has pared down so much he now only owns 111 things.

This got me to thinking about the Man Who Lived Without Money and sundry other purists.

The thing is.

I really need to know a lot more about these people, because you know, if you actually don't have anything, that's one story, but if you don't have anything, but your dad owns half Hampshire that's a different story.
Time after time I've read inspiring and uplifting accounts of people who have done without, hacked out a living, created their own space, lived in a  bender in a clearing ... and then in the end, the inheritance kicks in. Or they sell the family jewels.
I know people, who truly believe they are carving out a life, living in rented accommodation, or in a communal setting, and they haven't even pointed out to themselves that they have wealthy parents who presumably aren't immortal. I have no idea if they're in denial about the money or the mortality, but one of  them, for sure. So before they they themselves grow old and dependent, they know full well, whether they acknowledge it or not, that this will not be all. This is not it. In the normal run of things, they will suddenly find themselves materially much better off, if sorrowful.

We had friends a long time ago, who set out to build a house in Ireland, on the wild west coast, on a plot of land they'd acquired heaven alone knows how, and at the time, I was way jealous of their adventure.
Except. It turns out his well heeled family had mucho connections in that part of the world. Mainly builders. So he kind of picked up work whenever he needed it, and also had somewhat of a helping hand on the construction side of things.
Meanwhile her parents actually did own half Hampshire. So mummy would pop over on the ferry periodically with a Fired Earth floor for the kitchen in the back of her Volvo.
Oh and then they had the rock star relative who just gave them cars and stuff.

None of this is to wish anyone any ill will. If I had an inheritance, I too would own land in Cornwall or Wales. (Would I sink all my money into it, and then live off Tax Credits? As it will never happen, I can't confirm or deny. I like to think not.)
But. And this is a big But. (I hope no-one's counting breaches of grammar around here!)
What we have to show for our lives, Is. It. The likelihood of either of us having an unknown relative about to shuffle off and leave us even a few grand is vanishingly small.
Neil's parents maxed out their house on equity release, go on a gazillion holidays a year, and are only in financial cahoots with his younger brother. Hurtful? Yes. But that's another story.
My parents are long dead, I have one surviving sibling who has five children, a dozen or so grandchildren, and lives off her state pension.
For this reason, because we chose to play the wild card when we were young, because we saw California sunsets and Carolina day breaks, because we brought our children up in the wild, home educated, taught them to milk goats and grow food and ride ponies, because we took time to be with them day and night when they were small, and treasure all those days - now, we must do the hard work, because if we don't, we will have nothing.

And I do mean nothing. This is it.


Alison said...

I get so annoyed with these people too - whether in real life, FB groups or reading about their lives in magazines!

Andrea said...

Having 111 possessions doesn't make a you a better person. Or a worse one. Rob Greenfield owns two pairs of socks whilst I probably own 111. But I can't realistically trade them for a sack of rice or a tank of fuel when I get a bit short. The best I can hope is that I never need buy socks again! And that choice supports a lifestyle featuring many wet socks, as his choice to own two pairs supports his.

As long as we use our possessions wisely, get pleasure from them and are not depriving others in their acquisition then the question of how many of them we have is entirely our own business and irrelevant to how others choose to manage their own lives.

As for inheritance ... a touchy subject. Some people will get some, some people won't, and most of us aren't fortunate enough to have half of Hampshire in the family coffers. But if we do, does that make our efforts to live the sort of life we aspire to any less valid? I imagine that when my parents die I'll inherit something, but judging by the age of my grandmother I could be in my seventies by then. It seems rather a long time to twiddle my thumbs waiting for financial rescue, and they could well decide to gift everything they own to the League for the Abolition of Hippy Offspring before then anyway. In the meantime, are my efforts to grow a garden to feed my family somehow irrelevant because my parents could step in and buy me a bag of carrots if I asked?

This IS it. Your life, my life, Rob Greenfield's life. Comparing our lives to others makes not a jot of difference to the outcome, and eats into valuable energy we could be directing towards our own choices.

Jackie said...

The thing is, I wasn't really comparing. As you can see, I said I don't wish anyone any ill will abs is do it myself.
I'm not in any way upset or envious off them. Maybe my point didn't come across?
My point is the STORY. It's often lazily told. The STORY of a man with 111 things TOTAL and the STORY of a man with 111 things and a trust fund is just different!
I'd probably like to read the first and not the second. The psychology is different. I'm not comparing him to me. You're right, there'd be no point. I'm comparing him to him, because I want to read authentic stuff.

Jackie said...

*And I'd - why can't I edit comments on my phone? !

mel said...

I've been reading along without comment this past while #internetispants but had to do battle with our dodgy signal to chime in. I absolutely *get* what you're saying - I feel so cheated (out of hope/inspiration?) when I get the not-complete version of those stories because I want to know how to live that life with/from relative skintitude, not with/from a shed load of money. those are the stories that matter to me, that are relevant to our life. we played - and are still playing - the "wild card" and it's fairly terrifying at times. I'm deeply grateful that you're sharing your very grateful. xoxo

mel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jackie said...

That's just it, Mel - I'm not saying anyone's life is less valid. I imagine it's just as much of a bitch growing a row of lettuces and finding the slugs have had the lot if you're the heir to a shipping fortune as if you're more the heir to a shopping trolley.
But we gain inspiration more from those who have started where we are, and we empathise, and in any case, we just want to know the truth!
I'm sure there's a hell of a tale in someone who *is* from an extremely wealthy background getting shot of all that and living truly free of it, forever. Might be interested in that one.
I just want the whole truth of the tale. I can't be doing with the ones where you frown at the end of the book/film/article and go 'well, OK, but how did he *do* that?'
I remember a marvelous book by Ruth Janette Ruck I think her name was, called 'Place of Stones' - I was a huge fan of that book (I know my friend Jan, the snail of happiness, actually met Ruth) it was about their struggle to survive on a hill farm, in Wales.
Years later, I read a follow up, in which she casually mentioned that her parents had also bought the farm next door at the time and rented it out, so that was an asset she had to hand.
Now, I didn't cry 'no fair!'. It didn't affect me one bit one way or the other whether she was down to her last tenner or was in fact sitting on a gold mine. (you can do that in Wales)
But it spoiled the book for me. I felt cheated and as if the story wasn't real. This is why, when I see links to money-less people and folks with only a bag of toffees and an iPhone to their name, I want to know the background.

Andrea said...

But isn't this the case with almost ALL media? We get someone else's edited highlights?

I quite like this bloke's story as he tells us how he came to be where he is now. He makes no claims to be penniless, just pared down.

I can't remember which of these living without money stories it was, but I read one which suggesting looking for cigarette lighters outside pubs where people would tend to drop them. Now that's not living without money, it's living on the detritus of other people's. Arguably commendable in it's own right, but a different thing.

Jackie said...

Oh yes, it is of course all media. And I feel the same about all of it. I want to know the actual truth, and if I feel *too* much is being withheld or mismanaged, I switch off.
I'll never forget years ago watching a Channel 4 I think it was documentary on the world of showjumping, with which I was very familiar. It was utter nonsense from beginning to end! And the light coming on and going : 'So, all those documentaries about things I'm not familiar with ...'
I didn't really go into this bloke's particular story, it was just one of those trigger points, made me think how unsatisfying it is to be left thinking 'yeh, but ...'
I kind of don't mind if people do have a safety net. I'm only less interested because like Mel said, I like to read about people coming from where I am, but I don't hold it against someone. That's just how it is.
But it's the story. What I want to read about and be inspired by.

Powered by Blogger.