“Luxury isn’t about having things…it’s about not being in a rush.” – Tim Ferriss
“No Rush, No Pause.” – a mantra fof Tim Ferriss
“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” – from Navy Seal training
I’m here on this farm where the people are trying to do a resource-based economy (I had to look it up, but it’s basically not using money and being completely self-sustainable), and it’s such a liberating and rejuvenating experience for me. I really want to come back here because I want to continue the experience, and I’m leaving today at 2pm to go back! I think that I have finally come up with some of my favorite things about this place and here are what ones I’ve got so far.
1. Everything is voluntary. Working here is voluntary. Giving money for electricity or water usage is voluntary. Coming to lunch or dinner is voluntary. It’s a fascinating experience to just trust in others and not control, not demand, not watch over or spy on…not even expect! What a crazy experience. If you want to cook, you cook. If you don’t want to, just say you don’t want to, and you won’t be forced to. There’s no assignment of duties.
2. There isn’t correction or normative instruction, and I have 2 examples. Yesterday we were taking beans out of the bean stalks for 100 pounds of beans and inevitably someone would “mess up” and accidentally leave stalks in the clean bean pile. Well just as inevitably, someone would randomly go through and clean up the bean pile of the stalks and leaf crumbs. But here’s the thing: no one said anything, no one drew attention to it. One was simply doing the best they could and trusting that others were doing the best they could, and all were letting it be. My second example is about cooking lunch today. I was cooking rice and the lady wanted me to heat oil in a pan first and then to pre-cook the rice before we added the water. (Weird?) Anyway, she thought it was clear, and it wasn’t clear to me, so I just poured the oil in the pan and then immediately put the rice in before the oil was hot. The lady said it is better to heat the oil first and then pour the rice in, but notice how she phrased it. It wasn’t a correction. There was no dismay or frustration or “I told you to heat the oil first” or even a nicer “you should do this next time…” It was just a statement of her experiences without any implication of wrongdoing or “should”s! My time here contrasts so much with previous HelpX experiences where expectations were either much clearer and kind of watched (you work for so many hours), or the person I worked with was OCD and wanted things done correctly a certain way and would watch me to make sure I was doing it correctly.
3. Their goal on this farm is to be completely self-sustaining. All they want is to have everything they need and nothing more (like monks, right?). They’re not in a rat race to plant more crops to sell, or grow their farm out and use every available plot of land, or have more worker volunteers to “exploit”, or get rich and accumulate. They just want to enjoy themselves and have enough to not worry about using money and being in the capitalist system.
4. When doing the beans, I achieved a state of flow. I was going slow and steady, basically that quote of no hurry, no pause. I would grab the bean, open it up, get the beans out, and then throw the shuck in the compost pile. Then grab the next one. It was a beautiful experience, and I was doing it with everyone else in a place of no judgment, no comparisons, no competition, and it was a blessing.
Now while we’re talking about this hippie self-sustaining farm of non-normativity, let’s change the talk completely and talk about how important products are. 🙂
But first some beauty from Medellin, where I’ve been before the farm (for 3 days) and after a week on the farm (for 3 days)!
When I think about what brings me joy, I usually think of friends and family and a few nice things.
Anyway, I don’t think it’s consumeristic to get joy from products. It seems to me that what sometimes ends up happening is people think it’s consumeristic or materialistic to get joy from products when, really, they’re after something different. It’s like being upset with money when we really are against the love of money. Here is at least how I’m thinking about it right now. (And the reason I bring it up is because I’ve talked with numerous other people who tend to either disagree with me or not understand my point initially.)
I’ll start with something very basic: I get joy from products. And, I get a lot of joy from a few products. After quite a bit of reflection, I’ve concluded that I only really care about 4 things: a manual-transmission sports car (which I’ll buy when I come back), really good sound equipment (earbuds for me, stereo for my car, and sound system for my house/apt), fashionable sunglasses, and a nice phone… I seriously think that’s it.
And yes, I can obviously survive without all of these things. For instance, for the past 4 weeks, I’ve been without nice sunglasses (I got mugged), without a phone (I got mugged), without good sound/earbuds (I got mugged), and I don’t have a nice sports car (obviously).
So while I can survive, and even have a relatively happy and content life, these objects make a big difference in the joy level in my life. I just bought a nice phone today, for $300 (including phone, case, 2 screen protectors, extra 32GB of memory). It’s the nicest phone that’s produced by this Chinese company called HuaWei, and according to 3 different store salespeople, it’s believed to be the same quality as Samsung without the name and decades of history (they only have 5 years) behind their name. Well, I can tell you that it’s a really nice phone and now I have podcasts, music, AND photos! OMG! So wonderful!
But when I ask about what other people’s products give them tremendous amounts of joy, I sometimes get really weird answers like vacation time (not a product) or having an apartment in close proximity to their friends (is an apartment in a specific location a product?), or they say no products give them joy (which I can’t actually believe).
Like, am I crazy? I can’t be crazy. I do like the idea that the most important joy-giving things in our life aren’t actually things: they’re loved ones, friends, time off, etc. I even like the idea that these most important things are actually based on being the kind of person that…has time off, or goes on vacations, or is generous with their money, or has good friends, or whatever. I really like thinking about being as compared to having, but to negate the importance of products also doesn’t seem accurate for me either!
Negating one’s relations with people and things just seems crazy. To me, it’s like saying your country/society doesn’t matter to you. Of course it matters to your identity, if it’s part of your identity – and what isn’t part of your identity, in a sense? I like thinking about identity in a dual-modality: our identity markers can all change and drop over time (in other words, our relations are all contingent) but we also aren’t more than our relations (what else would there be that persists over time? I agree with the Buddhists on this). We are a bundle of contingent relations, and nothing more. Thus, our relationship to our country/society, our relationship to our family, our relationship to our products, our relationships with ourselves, etc. all are part of our identity even if they are contingent. And just as some friendships matter more than others, or some family relationships matter more than others, isn’t it natural to think some products matter more than others?
And speaking of how some relations matter more than others, here’s a picture of my favorite abuelita (grandmother) from my 2 week language stint in Covenas, on the coast.
OK, NOW I’m done. Thanks for reading! Enjoy! Hahaha! 🙂