Monday, 18 July 2016

From 'Moneyless Living' To 'Rewilding'

Lately I have noticed that I have started to cross the fine line between having guiding principles in the service of learning about a new way of life, and having rules and dogma. The aims for moneyless living and caring for the environment have slowly progressed from being an ideal I live out, to something I put on myself rigidly and sternly. Here is how to tell the difference, why it is harmful and how we can prevent it from happening.

Rules versus guidelines
The crossing of this line becomes apparent when we start saying things like: "I will NEVER do this or that again". You cannot know what you will do, and saying things like this limits personal freedom and prevents you from doing what's right for you in the moment. It takes you out of presence and into a future that doesn't exist. Examples are: "I will never use money ever again". I have said this, although I can't know what I will do in the future; I only know what my intentions are right now. I also found there is a lot of disagreement between what people consider "using money" and "living without money". It all depends on one's definition. Of course I know what I mean by it, but it is hard to convey to others without getting wordy (after all, it involves an entire mindset). In trying to explain it, the message usually gets lost.
People often end up disagreeing with some parts of my 'moneyless' definition: For example, they argue I am still using electricity, water and internet that was paid for. I am still receiving a salary (even though I am not using it). I am still using products that required production and that have been paid for (such as my laptop from uni). And I am still using roads and other public services. To them it doesn't matter that contribution can take another form than the standard financial form. It doesn't seem to count.
To make matters worse, I am planning some trips (before I start the nomadic journey) that will be financed through my PhD travel budget. Does that mean I will be using money? Probably, yes, at least indirectly. But to me the answer to this question doesn't really matter, because living without money is not (and has never been) the end goal; it is just something that helps me to get in touch with my true goal (presence and awareness) on a daily basis. And that is all that matters. However, lately (after a series of negative comments on various Facebook pages and constantly getting the same questions about this lifestyle) I have allowed myself to get drawn into explaining myself over and over (and over), which brought me closer to the realm of the 'rules' mentality.
I find myself thinking about "money" more often, and questioning whether I live entirely moneyless or not. And while reflection from time to time is really helpful and beneficial, preoccupation is not.

What's in the name?
When I gave up the use of money in my daily life, it was freeing because I no longer had to worry about money. I simply didn't have to think about it anymore. I still don't have to think about it, because I can survive just fine without it - no matter what happens. This is what appealed to me about this lifestyle. It freed up a lot of mental space to focus on other - more important - things. However, with all the comments I kept getting about what 'moneyless' means and what it is and is not to other people, I still got drawn into thinking about money all the time. Yet this is what I wanted to leave behind.
Some people have suggested the problem largely lies in the term that I use: moneyless. It keeps bringing money into the conversation simply because it is part of the description. I think they have a valid point. So I have thought about other terms that cover the journey I am on succinctly - preferably in just one word. I think the closest term that fits is 'rewilding': the process of getting back to nature and letting go of artificial rules and structures (including, but definitely not limited to, money). From now on I hope to remember to use this term more frequently instead.

What happens next?
Does this mean I am giving up living moneyless? No, probably not. Does it mean I will never use the term moneyless again? No, probably not that either. It has no real practical, outward implications; I am just no longer going to identify as a 'moneyless person'. Instead of labeling myself, it is enough for me to know what it means to me. I am also going to be less preoccupied and (mentally) radical with following some kind of ideal - I am not going to burden myself with rules and limitations. Life is about living, and freedom and peace of mind are my main priorities.
I am also not going to explain myself all the time and explain what "moneyless" means to me, as I have done way too much in the recent past when people kept telling me why my lifestyle was not 'moneyless enough' for them and why it should not be called that. Genuine questions can get a genuine answer, but comments are not questions. I am getting tired of explaining myself, mainly because it doesn't matter - it is not the essence of my journey at all. It is not important whether I use some things that others have paid for or not. The point is to become aware and to experience life from a new perspective: perhaps a more connected and pure way. Making it into a strict rule or dogma would defeat the entire purpose of the practice.

In reality, life has only one rule:  
There are no rules.

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