Mike Sliwa believes people worry about the future and miss the present.
My wife and I don’t have jobs. This makes people nervous. We obviously don’t have a steady income. This makes people really nervous. We spend money. This flips people out. We’re headed for what the privileged call “voluntary poverty.”
On many levels our lives appear to be “normal.” We don’t have a car but we rent cars. We don’t have a home but we live and sleep in homes. We don’t have cell phones but we have computers. We don’t have insurance but we still go to the doctor. People still worry.
People worry about retirement. They worry about insurance. About income. About bills. People worry about houses, cars and sending their kids to college. They worry constantly. We don’t. People sure worry about us though.
My wife and I are former high school teachers. Today we are unemployed and currently nomadic. We live on the road so to speak. When we’re not living and working on homesteads for room and board, we’re living with family and friends while trying to pay our way. Most of the time people try to pay for us. We try to pay and often do, but many times people insist and pay for a meal, drink, or whatever makes them feel comfortable. Sometimes it’s unconditional and sometimes it isn’t. Often we house sit, pet sit or run small errands to help out. Sometimes people want help and other times they don’t. Sometimes they mean what they say and other times they speak in code. In the end we generally figure out what works and if it doesn’t we move on.
Often I tell people about potential income opportunities but it’s really just to put them at ease. I have writing gigs, speaking gigs and other opportunities that sound like paying jobs but they’re often not. I’m okay with that. Many are not. My wife and I are moving towards the exit of the monetary system and towards a gift economy. Most people we know are not.
It really comes down to our basic needs. My friend Guy McPherson says our basic needs are food, water, maintaining core body temperature (shelter), a decent human community, and decent non-human community. The rest are just wants. Our wants have decreased. This make people nervous. Needs cost money so we’ve been investing in durable goods. We bought a Mongolian Yurt and some things to support our existence in it. People think it’s cool but could never live in it.
Currently we are looking for a decent human community. We’ve been on the road for over two years so we’re ready to find a place to set up shop. We still want to be mobile so the yurt was a good fit. Our second home is in our backpacks. This makes people nervous but at least they smile.
In the end we hope people see our stress-free existence and happiness and let go of their fears and worries about us. We’re not setting an example or teaching a lesson. People think we are. They like to show us their gardens, recycling strategies or the green initiatives in their communities. I think we make people feel guilty. That’s not our intent. We’re doing it because it’s a better life than our old one. Maybe we will get jobs again someday…sorry, I just said that to ease your mind.