OB012

First of all, thanks so much for the links on Wendell Berry. He is simply awesome!

Secondly to your question.

'''How did you get the courage to opt out and how does it feel to be out, not competing , not running to stand where you are?

'''

Well it is a difficult question to answer offhand. I havent thought of it as courage so far! Mostly a curiosity about how much I need the system. What chiefly inspired me was Thoreau's writings; "Life without principle" and Walden. Also Gandhi and Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful".

Opting out is the natural course for any sensible person - because the In-Thing is plain downhill. So I was thinking of it more as freedom, and my ticket to true independence than courage. It is an attempt at simplification of my needs. Somehow it gives me great joy to own only 2 sets of clothes, have my bath in a pumpset or canal and sleep under a thatched roof than to own a huge house costing 25 lakhs and paying an EMI of 20,000 per month. It is exactly as Christ said " Take no thought for the morrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". Thoreau has all the answers:

1. A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone

2. How can I earn a livelihood and still have time to live?

3. Men labour under a mistake; the majority of man is plowed down as compost.

4. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation

and so on, ad inifinitum!

I used to compare my day to day thoughts and reactions to that of birds and animals,constantly, and check how much I am in tune with them. For example, if I am anxious about my future, I will simply think of an insect or bird and tell myself , "are they providing for tsunami or a market crash?" and my doubts will wither away. I try to live in the present and manage my life in very small chunks - one step at a time. Doing that, I have found I really dont need to "manage my life" - I just need to live!

I have not opted out fully. I am still very much a part of the system, if only in the periphery, for the sake of my dependents. I do work on the net and earn around 25000 to 30000 per month and I cant say I have opted out as long as I do it. But I can say without any exaggeration or conceit that life is very easy, and an individual needs just 10 cents of rain-fed land to feed himself and be independent. And I can do it.

I am trying to opt out step by step so the shock is less for my wife and kids. I will be quitting my present job ( which I am planning to in another 18 months - more than me my clients are dependent on me and I need to phase out things) and make a living as a farmer - which I feel is my real vocation. Even farming can be very violent and competitive if we try to make money out of it. So I will just grow my food and sell the surplus ( if I have any!).

It feels great to be out; like a breath of fresh air.. as though you have just come up from a terribly crowded subway. Most days I dont remember what day it is.. and I seldom look at my watch. I have to wear a shirt only to travel to my farm (and I remove it as soon as I am there ofcourse!). So you can get an idea of the life I have.

What would you tell others? is it a naive dream?

I wont tell anything to others.. every one has to find their truth inside. There is only one way to freedom - to let go. But freedom is not happiness - it may be pleasant it may be unpleasant. We can safely trust life a lot more than we do now. If it is harsh to us we just take it in our stride. What harm can come to a person who owns nothing?

Life is a white sheet of paper for us to write. Every one needs some margin to correct his errors and feel safe.. how much margin depends on the individual - but, the more the margin, the less space there is for life! A saint is the extreme end of zero margin - a mortally afraid materialist is the other end of the spectrum - all margin and no life. Where to draw the line is subjective. I personally feel that cash reserves for one year's expense and some calling that doesnt quarrel with the soul, with a half-chance to make ends meet is all that is required. We underestimate our own capabilities of survivial - and even if we should die trying to be on our own, what is after all wrong with it? Is it not a glorious death?

Truth is not a naive dream. Our true nature is like the birds and animals.. to live in the present, to live in harmony with Nature and to be. It is the illogical human desire to perpetuate the safety and joy of the present moment, that is a foolish dream.

Will people regret it when there are times of illness , times of need for children?

Well we can imagine a million potential problems; but how much can we provide for? Providence is meant for providing for us. Let us just enjoy this moment. As Shakespeare said " much care is enemy to life"!

I am not without doubts or moments of utter confusion; it comes with the territory when you try to strike out a path of your own. But the so called 'courage' comes from the conviction that freedom is the chief end of us than "security".


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