From Robin Good
Originally written and published by Ran Prieur on April 2, 2004 as "How to Drop Out"
Dropping out of the present dominant system has both a mental and an economic component that go together like your two legs walking.
It's a lot of steps!
Maybe you notice that you hate your job, and that you have to do it because you need money. So you reduce expenses, reduce your hours, and get more free time, in which you learn more techniques of self-sufficiency and establish a sense of identity not dependent on where you get your money.
Then you switch to a low-status low-stress job that gives you even more room to get outside the system mentally. And so on, until you've changed your friends, your values, your whole life.
The point I have to make over and over about this process, and this movement, is that it's not about avoiding guilt, or reducing your ecological footprint, or being righteous. It's not a pissing contest to see who's doing more to save the Earth -- although some people will believe that's your motivation, to justify their own inertia. It's not even about reducing your participation in the system.
It is about reducing your submission and dependence: getting free, being yourself, slipping out of a wrestling hold so you can throw an elbow at the Beast.
This world is full of people with the intelligence, knowledge, skills, and energy to make heaven on Earth, but they can't even begin because they would lose their jobs. We're always arguing to change each other's minds, but nobody will change if they think their survival depends on not changing. Every time you hear about a whistleblower or reporter getting fired for honesty and integrity, you can be sure that they already had a support network, or just a sense of their own value, outside of the system they defied.
Dropping out is about fighting better.
[ ... ]
The path is different for everyone. Maybe you're already intuitive and decisive and know how to have fun, but you don't know how to manage money or stay grounded. Maybe you're using wealth or position or charm to keep from having to relate to people as equals, or you're keeping constantly busy to avoid facing something lurking in the stillness.
Whatever weaknesses keep you dependent on the system, you have to take care of them before you break away from the system, just as you have to learn to swim before you escape a ship.
By going out and back, a little farther each time, with persistence and patience, until you reach the skill and distance that feels right.
At the moment there's no reason to drop out "all the way" except puritanism. I hate civilization as much as anyone, but in these last few years before it crashes, we should appreciate and use what it offers. Sylvan Hart (his given name!), the 20th century mountain man who even smelted his own metal, still traded with civilization, and once carried a sheet of glass 50 miles through the woods so he could have a good window. (See Harold Peterson, The Last of the Mountain Men)
Some of the happiest people I know have dropped out only a short distance.
They still live in the city and have jobs and pay rent, but they've done something more mentally difficult -- and mentally liberating -- than moving to some isolated farm. They have become permanently content with no-responsibility slack jobs, low-status, modest-paying, easy jobs that they don't have to think about at home or even half the time when they're at work. Yes, these jobs are getting scarce, but they're still a thousand times more plentiful than the kind of job that miserable people cannot give up longing for -- where you make a living doing something so personally meaningful that you would do it for free.
"Do what you love and the money will follow" is an irresponsible lie, a denial of the deep opposition between money and love.
The real rule is: "If you're doing what you love, you won't care if you never make a cent from it, because that's what love means -- but you still need money!"
So what I recommend, as the second element of dropping out, is coldly severing your love from your income. One part of your life is to make only as much money as you need with as little stress as possible, and a separate part, the important part, is to do just exactly what you love with zero pressure to make money. And if you're lucky, you'll eventually make money anyway.
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Also check out:
How To Drop Off the Grid
Got a case of the Mondays? Why not blow off the cubicle life and try dropping out of society?
You Will Need
A soul-crushing job
Step 1: Quit your job
If urgency is not a factor, try having a private conversation with your boss well in advance about your general displeasure and desire to be a part of the next round of layoffs. Hello, severance check!
Step 2: Discard your possessions
Discard all your worldly possessions except cash. Empty your bank account. In practice, carry as little cash as possible, but find several safe places to store your stockpile. Scatter these spots around so that even if one reserve is discovered, you still have others.
Step 3: Abandon your car
Abandon your car. It might be a good idea to leave the engine running in a community that you have faith will waste no time in making it disappear for good. But be careful—you’ll still have to leave a potentially dangerous area on foot!
Step 4: Find a new home
Find a new habitat. The wilderness is an option, but is not recommended for entry-level drifters. You may want to try squatting in an abandoned space such as a warehouse, former home, commercial space, school, tunnel, or cave.
--> Know the law. Squatting is a crime in many jurisdictions and may get you arrested. However, in some places it isn’t against the law, and squatters may even be able to become legal owners of their adopted homes through an eventual process known as “adverse possession.”
Step 5: Destroy your demons
Kill off your inner demons. Discarding your old life and rebuilding a new one means scraping off some of the old baggage that brought you here in the first place. Addicted to cigarettes? Painkillers? Gourmet coffee? If you’ve decided to drop off the grid, you can’t afford these vices anyway. Get rid of them.
Step 6: Get a job
Find off-the-map employment. Farm work is possible if you can find a situation where live-ins are permitted. This type of work is usually below minimum wage. Many small towns don’t have day-labor programs, but if you’re marginally groomed, try knocking on doors & asking the townsfolk if they have outside chores you can do in exchange for lunch.
Step 7: Keep moving
Move on—to wherever the wind may blow you. It won’t be easy. Life will be a daily struggle. But hey, at least you’re not sitting bored out of your mind in some box.
--> Thanks to the United States subprime mortgage crisis, there are currently more vacant homes in the U.S. than ever in history, totaling over 2 million. Out west, nearly 7% of all homes are vacant! Happy squatting!
Vanishing Point: How to disappear in America without a trace
"In the midst of the words he was trying to say
In the midst of his laughter and glee
He silently and quietly vanished away
For the snark was a boson, you see" - Paraphrased