August 27, 2014

Opting Out - Gene Wilder

The consumer lifestyle can be hypnotizing, yet resistance is not futile.

Some people get it. They know the pitfalls of fame, wealth and excessive lifestyles, and turn away from the temptations on offer. They decide to opt out.

There are many examples of individuals strong enough to say NO to the alluring yet destructive ways of the modern world. This is what Gene Wilder said about why he doesn't make movies anymore:

"I like writing books. I'd rather be at home with my wife. I can write, take a break, come out, have a glass of tea, give my wife a kiss, and go back in and write some more. It's not so bad. I am really lucky."

As a consumer dropout, this sounds good to me. It is more proof that resistance in not futile, and we can choose to opt out.

Now I'm off to take a break and kiss Linda.

August 25, 2014

Jungle Zen

It does not take much to be happy - just ask these two.

In 1967 singer/songwriter Terry Gilkyson wrote The Bare Necessities for a movie called The Jungle Book. When the first version of the movie was scrapped Gilkyson's song was the only thing that was kept. I am glad it made the cut.

I discovered the influence of these words as a lad of 7 or 8 years old. I was unused to big entertainments since my family did not own a TV, and we did not have money to take our 7 member family out on the town very often.

I can't remember who took that younger version of me to the Paramount Theatre to see the movie, but I do remember being blown away by the whole spectacle.

The Bare Necessities scene was my favourite part at the time, and now when I revisit this song I think that the struggling songwriter must have known the simple life. When I read parts of the song it reads like a Zen poem rather than a mickey mouse made movie.

For me this song represents "Jungle Zen", and I do think that it must have steered me as a child towards more sensible ideas of consumption and expectations. Even then it appealed to me and made sense

The Bare Necessities

...don't spend your time looking around

For something you want that can't be found.
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinking about it
I'll tell you something true -

The bare necessities of life will come to you.

- Terry Gilkyson

August 24, 2014

The Necessities Of Life

Life does not need to be a struggle if our wants are few, and we can find joy in the little things. 

In some small way each move toward reducing complexity and speed in our lives relieves us of the superfluous. Each time we get closer to defining the necessities of life.

The less we need to get by the less we have to engage in paid labour. We can spend more time following our passions.

There are many ways to spend the moments we steal back from multi-tasking modern lifestyles. Many people find they enjoy being with loved ones, pursuing an art or craft, or volunteering in their communities.

My local newspaper had a story today about a 96 year old that passed recently. He was well known in the area not only for his sense of humour, but also for the fact that he built a hockey rink in the yard to get his kids off the street.

That was in 1958, and after many improvements, the rink is still used by hockey teams and skaters from far around. Perhaps this community volunteer found extra time due to his simple approach to life.

His son said of his father's view on things,

"All he needed was the necessities. Luxurious things he didn’t care about. He didn’t care about trips or having the fanciest cars or anything, just what he needed to get by.”

Sounds like a great epitaph for a man that discovered that life does not need to be a passionless struggle filled with the things and situations modern complexity requires.

We can choose slower, less resource-intensive lives that enable us to live more. Acquiring the necessities should not have to be a punishment.
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