Birthdays

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
Satchel Paige 

It’s my birthday today.

I’m older, but still no signs that I’ve grown up yet.

Perfect that.

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Welcoming the sharing economy into your home

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside”
Denis Waitley

In one sense our global economic environment is like dinner time in a large family.

Mom brings out pumpkin pie and sets it down. The pie is cut up with a huge piece for her and for dad and smaller pieces for all the kids. The children who have been around for a while, and who have some skill, can feed themselves. They quickly fill their plates with much more than they can eat, but the smaller children, the ones who need the most help, who don’t have the skills to feed themselves, or who are last in line for the pie, end up with too little to eat. There is nothing left for the baby.

Mom says the secret is for everyone to work as long and as hard as they are able. To go out and fight and compete and in doing so steal food from the table of another family.  The lesson is that If we are to have more to eat then someone else must go hungry. Over time Mom says this will mean she can bake a bigger pie for the family…and this is our economy. The pie is never, ever big enough. As the pie gets bigger there should be some crust left over for the youngest kids, but there isn’t. Mom and Dad and the eldest child each take even bigger slices. At some point their slice is essentially big enough to feed the whole family. They eat their fill then horde the rest.

The principles of the economy are pure fiction when it comes to how a single family behaves. In times of need we share and we help each other. In reality some of the older children would decide that instead of stuffing themselves silly they will share their portion with their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Dad or Mum may give up their food entirely so that his baby and toddlers are kept well. Ultimately parents would die so their children may live.

Our neighbours and friends will hear of our plight and will bring gifts of food to help us through the tough times. There will be love, sharing and care within the family and from others. Sharing, mutual aid and mutual support is very natural. It is the secret that allowed small bands of humans to tame the wilderness and build a life.

Unfortunately, what is natural is distorted by what is the economy. The real is destroyed by the idea…the monetary myth that we have all ascribed to. Our economy has been deliberately set up to actively discourage sharing, help, care, or love. Isolated, helpless fearful individuals are model consumers. The things that come naturally to every living human being have been redefined and marginalised by economic policy.

The cynical me says it is economists and their policies that foil our sharing instinct. Sharing is such a powerful force that it could distort the power base of our world. The very rich feel entitled to horde all of the pumpkin pie that there ever was, is, or will ever be. To satisfy such greed all sharing must be discouraged. Things must be bought, owned, burnt up, thrown away, but not shared. Never shared.

Through accepting simple living we can step outside the economic framework. We see the inequity. The environmental destruction. The starvation and the poverty. The endangerment of species and the global waste of resources.

We appreciated that all of these problems are somehow interconnected.

We must embrace our natural inclination to share our pumpkin pie, to help others, to create, to produce, to live lightly on this earth and to leave something behind for our family that are still waiting in the wings (the unborn).

Sharing and helping is an enormous part of the solution. Sharing has been such a positive experience in my life. It has enriched me in ways that owning all of the world never could. It fills me with hope with possibility.

Sharing, caring and helping is very pleasurable, yet the economists, marketers and business tycoons do all they can to prohibit, discourage and restrict our ability to experience the pleasure from sharing. Sharing and mutual aid are then two of the most potent ideas for social reform on this planet.

We have long since passed the age when we manufactured goods to meet our desires. We are now in a world hell bent on manufacturing desires to sustain the production of unnecessary goods. Ownership is a myth. We own nothing. What we do have is the right of storage, use and disposal. Nothing more. By cultivating an ownership illusion we support violence (or the threat of violence) for if someone were to use our supposed possession we can call in men and women with guns to get it back for us. Without this threat of violence, real or implied, ownership would not be possible. But why deluding ourselves. Let’s recognise the illusion and begin to appreciate the reality. We are all interconnected. Sharing is good. At a personal, societal and global level sharing is very, very good.

We are deceived to believe that it is right to buy, but wrong to borrow. Looking wisely we you should have a level of discomfort with buying and a feeling of comfort with sharing. The exact inverse of how the world is…

Our family has welcomed the sharing economy into our lives. It strengthens our links with our friends and the community. There is a very warm feeling when we lend to a good friend. Increasingly I feel the same vibe when I borrow.

Lend, borrow, share, love.

Make Mom proud. Share your toys!

Essentially luxurious

“Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury, starting with being in this world” 
Cesare Pavese

There are so many luxuries that we don’t consider luxurious anymore. They are just the basics that we need to make our life work.

In a passage in Walden titled Baker Farm Thoreau discusses his advice to the Baker family.

“I tried to help him with my experience, telling him that he was one of my nearest neighbors, and that I too, who came a-fishing here, and looked like a loafer, was getting my living like himself; that I lived in a tight, light, and clean house, which hardly cost more than the annual rent of such a ruin as his commonly amounts to; and how, if he chose, he might in a month or two build himself a palace of his own; that I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system- and so it was as broad as it was long, indeed it was broader than it was long, for he was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain; and yet he had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day.”

We see coffee as a necessity in our household, but it is really a luxury and there are many other luxuries consumed in such an everyday manner. If we were to correctly view consumables (that would be incredibly impossible or ridiculously expensive to produce ourselves) as luxuries and if we were to go further and treat them as such then we would use them sparingly or not at all. In doing so we may simplify our life again. Saving even more money, effort and time in the bargain.

Our thinking is along the lines that if we can make it we should, but if we can’t then it falls into the category – luxury. Where before we treated these things as consumable commodities in future we shall savour, use sparingly and generally reduce our use to the point where we regain pleasure and gratitude from the experience. If by way of example you were to drink coffee everyday it quickly loses it’s pleasure. However, if you only drink it on Sunday morning or only on your birthday you may enjoy the experience immensely more than your regular coffee fix.

Apertures into reality

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself”

Alan Watts

Our five senses are our world. They appear to reveal to us all that there is in the world. Really our senses are very limited. We conceive that they tell us the entirety of reality, but the truth is that we miss out on virtually everything.

Our eyes can only process the small red line between ultraviolet and infrared light (the red bar is so small in the picture you might miss it):

vision

Our ears can only process the blue part of a scale of sound energy that extends infinitely.

sound

Our other senses are equally limited. Our senses do not relay the totality of the world. They are merely apertures that give us a glimpse. Like staring at a garden through a small crack in a fence. With such small apertures we are essentially peeping at the world through a pin prick.

This creates illusions and supports false thoughts about who and what we are, and what is or isn’t real.

An economy of our own

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”

Winston Churchill

In the New Year we will embark on another journey. It is time that we created our very own economy.

Our partial dependence on corporate economy now comes with too many strings. We opt into the system when it works for us and look to opt out, or work around the system, when it doesn’t work for us. You can take from this that it no longer working for us.

We feel that by creating our own economy, through entrepreneurial endevour, we can regain more freedom than we have at the moment.

By decoupling, or rewiring our relationship to money we hope to graduate from those who earn (that is trade their time for money) to those who generating value for others.

We expect this to be wildly successful. There is no point focusing on what will go wrong (see point 10).

Our business goals are highly philanthropic.

We will measure profit and success in terms of the spillover social good (charitable contributions) that we generate beyond that which we require to sustain our simple existence.

It will be an exciting and challenging year and we are both looking forward to it.

Happy holidays.

Pick a peck of pickled peppers…sweet sweet spicy peppers….ughhh

“Mmmmm Guatemalan Insanity Peppers”

Homer J. Simpson

As I munched on a pickled jalapeno pepper straight from the jar…

[Ok, I am a bit weird. In terms of my plant strong diet these are like my version of KFC’s addictive chicken!!]

So as I munched on a pickled pepper Ms Simple begins with …’You know what…?’.

I do.

She didn’t need to say it, but I knew she was going to burst my delicious jalapepper bubble.

First she pointed out that the peppers tasted so hot and good because they were covered in salty sweet brine. Would you like some peppers with your sugar and salt?

Then she pointed out the country of origin was China. Nothing against China, but that is a lot of food miles for something I can get free from our garden. Also their food safety record isn’t all that good.

With the barest minimum of research I discovered fairly concerning human rights issues for workers of this pickled pepper company I was chowing down on…

…and so on many levels she compelled me to awaken from the spell of the pepper…to give up this scorching sweet wee treat.

Eating them doesn’t fit with my diet for healthfulness.

Eating them doesn’t fit with our no harm intent.

Eating them is not doing the planet any favors.

They are hot going in and they are much hotter coming out. I don’t really enjoy the conclusion as much as the inclusion!

So this is my farewell to pickled peppers post.

Hopefully my next addiction, while being equally idiosyncratic, will be better aligned my personal and our family values.

Hopefully.