May 23, 2012

Radical Lifestyles

Radical lifestyles ahead
Yesterday, part of our influx of simplicity seekers was from who graciously mentioned us in her blog about "living with 2 pairs of jeans, no car, no debt, more time and less stress."

NBA was mentioned in a post about people who are living different lives from the mainstream. People who are spending less, having less, and doing more of what they enjoy.

NBA's description in the post was quite accurate: "Radical living without buying anything except groceries and guitar strings and not selling anything." However, my first thought was, "Radical? Is our lifestyle really that radical?".

But of course, it is.

Canadian's household debt-to-income ratio is 150%. Yes, most of us are spending more than we make. All that money is being borrowed to buy more and more stuff to fill larger and larger houses. This is the norm today, and compared to this state of affairs we do represent a radically different way of living.

We have no debt, and have always enjoyed the freedom of being renters. Our current home is small, and when we need more room we just get rid of stuff. This frees up space - we do not need to 'move up' to acquire more.

We may buy a bit more than guitar strings and groceries, but not much. It feels very natural, but does sound radical when I think about it. But what are the real radical lifestyles on this little planet of ours?

If we were thinking soberly, living a high-impact 5-planet lifestyle would be considered the most radical of all ways of living, and what NBA advocates wouldn't appear as drastic or extreme.

Reaching sustainability will be difficult as long as excessively luxurious lifestyles are seen by society as 'normal' and the standard to which we should all aspire.

The world needs more radicals, more anti-authoritarians, more misfits and malcontents. And yes, theminimalistmom, we include you in this honourable continuum of people daring to live differently.

Such brave folks are needed to show the rest of us that we can overthrow our desires and obtain freedom from ourselves, as well as from those who wish to exploit us.

I don't mind being seen as radical, despite the negative connotations that come with this word in these times of high pressure conformity. I don't mind because I know that radicals create change.

Of course it is all relative, and when put up against the Amish, Linda and I are living a comparatively non-radical, luxurious lifestyle. We may seem radical, but we aren't that radical.

At least, not yet.

How radical are you willing to get in your efforts to simplify your life?


  1. I like how you question whether you really think it is all that radical. I never considered myself radical in frugalness anyways until I get interested and really involved in my financial blog.

    Truth be told I am radical in many ways from our lifestyle, our choice to live without furntiture for a 5 year period in our lives, to not only homeschooling but unschooling, to a non mainstream spirituality.

    It is not that I set out to be so non mainstream, it is just what seemed right and natural bringing me the greatest joy! Keep up the wonderful posts, love your blog!

    1. When we first came to the coast we were camping. When we decided to stay we furnished our apartment with our camping gear.

      We had lawn chairs with a plastic bin for a coffee table in the living room. In the bedroom air mattresses and sleeping bags.

      Our kitchen contained only our limited camp kitchen contents, but I could prepare anything we wanted.

      That was only for a few weeks, though, not 5 years. Still, we felt pretty free, like adventurers, or nomads.

      It is great when you get to the point of it feeling "right and natural", and you are doing it for the joy it brings.

      Then it becomes effortless, in a way.

      Thanks for your support. We are glad you are part of the NBA community.

  2. Pushing boundaries is important. Just so long as I'm not forcing my will on anyone else. If If I need to use force to exert my will, then I've already lost all of my persuaisive ability.

    I once had a friend who thought she could convince me to be vegan by telling me that I was "stupid" not to go veg. Well, she's not my friend anymore and she didn't convince me of the virtues of the vegan life. My sister in law has taken a much gentler approach and is having more luck pulling me over to her way of seeing things.

    1. You are right - it has to be carrot, not stick.

      I approve of the gentle approach as the only one that will yield positive, lasting benefits.

      Aggression can be toxic. I always try to balance my outrage with my more gentle side.

  3. Browsing around on your site today, I came across this post. I'm wondering if people label me "radical," "weird," "out there," etc because my living resourcefully, mindfully, and simply somehow makes them feel bad or something.

    When I talk about the things I do, how I live and my values, it seems to kind of call people out on their own crap, consumerism, and planet destroying life styles. By coming up with a slightly belittling way to describe me, it somehow justifies the way they chose to live because who wants to be radical, weird, and out there?

    Some of the opposition to how I do things is quite strong. I strive to not blame the victim and instead try to understand they are operating under the control of the skilled profiteers, those who manipulate, coerce and propel consumerism.

    I chuckled to myself when I read your comment above. I live in an apartment and had some new neighbors move in next to me recently. When I stopped at their patio to introduce myself, I could see into their living room. They had two lawn chairs and a box they were using for an end table. Most people would see it as they don't have anything, are very poor. I saw it as how cool it was that they have less and are rich. It made me go home and box up some more crap to haul out of here!

    I've been working very hard to reduce my electricity consumption simultaneously reducing my monthly bills. People were treating me like a strange person when I said I was hanging my clothes to dry in my apartment vs using my electric dryer. But several months into it, I am now reporting I've reduced my monthly electricity use by $60 a month consistently. I've reduced my monthly bills by over $200.00. Since I've started reporting this information to those in my small social network, people are acting much more interested in what I am doing! We lead by example which you and Linda do so brilliantly on this blog.

    Lovely to hear that others reference your posts on their blogs, etc.

    1. "If you could understand everything, you could forgive anything." We need to be gentle with each other, and that includes everyone. Every single person. We are all struggling to do what we think is right.

      In a more environmentally conscious setting we would measure success by our thrift and economy in everything we do. We would measure success in open space, free time, and the amount of love we channel toward life.

      People desperately need a different model for living. We never know when others are watching us and learning ways they may find make more sense for themselves, their families, and the planet. You are providing many with an excellent example, not in empty words, but in your actions.

      As you know, many others that come here are doing the same - living the change they wish to see in the world. It gives me hope that we are not all corruptible by lures of consumerism.


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