January 29, 2020

Beyond Control, Toward Freedom

Like the anarchist author Jean Weir, I "experienced society like an iron vice from the day I was born." That is the main reason I find living simply so attractive - it loosens the grip of that iron vice.

Since I was young I felt the control and exploitation that I was swimming in constantly. I thought it might drown me.

Because I was born a sensitive, I keenly felt the stings of an obviously unjust and hypocritical system. It was everywhere - in the "father knows best" family structure, at school, the mall, in the playground and on the streets.

I wondered, and still do, why so few could see it. Can fish perceive the water they swim in? Maybe that is the problem.

My desire has always been to be beyond sneaky methods of control used by parents, teachers, bosses, priests and society. That is why I developed a powerful connection to nature and wild places, and honoured my desire to be far, far away from the centres of civilizational control as often as I could.

I wanted to be away from the set of laws that seek to control everyone except the rich and powerful, who are free to do as they please. 

I wanted to leave consumerism, its garish billboards and screaming advertisements, in the dust behind me. These are the rankest forms of control of all, being subtle and based on the best neuropsychology money can buy (over 1 trillion dollars a year now). 

A saner world would see them for the mind control that they are, and resist them at every turn.

The consumer lifestyle lulls us into creating our own gilded cages, then willingly walking into them. The authorities don't even have to monitor us after our initial training, because when we leave our cells to work for our keepers, we go right back to them at night.

The average person prefers the cage to the perceive dangers and discomforts of more natural surroundings. Things, they say, are not convenient in nature. Therefore, it is bad, and must be controlled, destroyed and plundered.

This shows the level of control has been complete and total. When you can successfully tear people from the land you create displaced zombies, ripe for exploitation and prone to suggestion.

So, at an early age I decided I would not work for this sick system if that was ever possible. I had no wish to aid them in their exploitations and predations. I would rather be poor and free than complicit.

I would go on to disassociate myself from the consumer lifestyle as much, and as soon, as I could. A life of buying less would allow me to work less. Working less would allow me to live more freely. 

Time, I thought, is the most valuable resource, and I didn't want to spend all mine working for the man. Or woman.

Living simply is not so much about saving the world for me, although that would be a nice fringe benefit. It is about getting out of that iron vice of society. 

It is about building a real and lasting freedom for myself, and for everyone else.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. Linda and I spent some time today reading several of your fine posts. We had a laugh or two, and learned a few things as well.

  2. Anonymous1/30/2020

    You articulate so well what so many of us are feeling, that eternal desire for freedom. And you offer us practical uplifting ways to get it. Thanks for all your inspiration, it is a refuge in the negative sea of consumerism that threatens to overcome us. I always feel better after reading this blog! Nancy

    1. This refuge is big enough for everyone. All 7.8 billion of us.

      We appreciate your feedback. It is an ongoing challenge to balance things so we don't get all doom and gloom, which is easy to do these days.

      But, it is just as easy to look at the good stuff, and there is still lots of that. Your generous comment is one such example.

    2. Anonymous2/01/2020

      Thank you, Nancy, for expressing what are my sentiments too regarding this blog. The word 'refuge' is most fitting. Consumerism, corrupt governments, prejudice - it's all so overwhelming. Thank you Gregg and Linda for these posts...the doom and gloom (but thought provoking) ones and the lovely uplifting ones. All the best to everyone out there. -- Mary

  3. Anonymous2/01/2020

    I share exactly the same sentiments and couldn't have expressed them more clearly than you have.
    It's always comforting to know there are others out there who think and feel like we do, even if they may be dispersed in far locations, there's still a sense of solidarity.

    1. What a time to be alive, that what we are doing here together is even possible. Let's hope it continues to be possible in the future.

      Our work here has enhanced the life that Linda and I are living in ways that could not have previously been imagined. We are so grateful for this blog community, and to say it has been life changing would not be an exaggeration.

      It is incredibly comforting to know you are all out there. Solidarity is the solution.

  4. Anonymous2/02/2020

    I have just finished re-reading Tom Hodgkinson's book 'How To Be Free'. Gregg, I think you may have mentioned this author some time past? I find it comforting to read about a lifestyle similar to mine and be reminded that it is rational! All of the 'boxes' I do not fit into are not rational. And yes, NBA is a 'refuge' for those of us who want to get off the treadmill and live a low-impact, beautiful life :-)


    1. I do not remember mentioning Tom, but will be looking him up as soon as I have a "free" moment.

      It is said that the human brain is the most incredible computing apparatus that we know of in the entire Universe. It is a beautiful thing, but can be corrupted by so much of what passes for rational thought these days. It is the old "garbage in - garbage out" thing.

      "For those who want to get off the treadmill and live a low-impact, beautiful life" could be the new tag line for this blog. I love it. That is the group to which I wish to be a part. And I am not usually a joiner.

    2. Madeliene, Tom Hodgkinson also has a website called The Idler. He is an old favourite of mine, in fact my husband and I have his Idle Parent Rules framed on a shelf LOL. He has some great ideas and theories about how to be free and how to be idle...I'm definitely the first, and working on the second :)

    3. Gregg, beautifully written as usual. Most people don't want to be off the treadmill, and some don't even seem to think they're on it.
      I"m starting to be asked what do I do now all our children are at school? Are they serious? I garden, I grow food. I parent (endlessly). I keep my house warm in winter and cool in summer and bake healthy delicious food for my family and mend clothes and spend our limited income wisely and volunteer and learn other languages...all of which is apparently not enough though. I need Paid Employment with a Company. I'm ok being a stay at home Mother. I'm happy to not be on the endless wheel of consumerism. My husband is happy. We're living this way to be as free as possible now, with a view to be totally free by retirement (or earlier!!). Thanks to this community for being here and understanding those of us content to not be on the ladder.

    4. Anonymous2/04/2020

      Karen, what a lazy slacker you are!! Seriously, you are ahead of the game in managing to escape the mass hypnosis we all grew up with. What lucky kids you have, and yes, I bet your husband is happy.

      My wife and I have just been discussing this, and it seems that what we are all wanting to do is just 'live' - chop the wood, light the fire, mend the trousers, bake the cake, read to the child. Somehow they've convinced the masses that they should and must work 50 hours a week or more, and with the little energy and time left, squeeze in a bit of 'life'. It is absolutely sad, especially when people don't even realise they are no better than slaves or the piece workers of the Victorian era.

      Enjoy your new-found freedom!


    5. Ah-ha! The Idler I do remember. Thanks for that mention, Karen.

      The Slackers - I had so much hope for them. I want to ask "What happened to the slackers?", but I know what happened. The same thing that happened to the Diggers, and the Hippies, and Occupy Wall Street. The same thing that happens every time the people come up with ideas that do not support the mainstream capitalist narrative.

      Our movements don't ever fail - they are always crushed by the violence of the system.

      That is why simple living is such a radical idea now more than ever. We don't have a centralized structure they can target. There is no leader, except each individual that strives to live simply in a complicated world. This is one movement that they will not be able to crush.

      The Victorian era - they are forcing the 99% back to those days. We have been backsliding since the 80s when Reagan and Thatcher saw they had no competition (because of the "fall of communism"), and world domination was finally a possibility.

      This time they are going for a global takeover, and it looks like they might get it, too, if we don't start fucking up their program. Living simply is a great foundation from which to start, but it won't be enough. We all have to be wrenches in their odious machine.

    6. Karen, congratulations on extricating yourself from the treadmill. It has been one of the hardest things to do for people living over the past few hundred years. It is our power. They can not yet force us to buy their trinkets and baubles, and freedom is still possible.

      Grab it while you can get it, I say. Nothing is more precious than time with loved ones, and the activities and enjoyments of an unrushed intentional lifestyle.

      Living is my career. Kindness my religion. Compassion my creed.

  5. Anonymous2/04/2020

    I agree whole heartedly with the comments here. History has taught us that real change always originates with the grass roots masses. The government and powers that be are always on the wrong side in the beginning and struggle to keep up when the masses won't back down. Remember, what if they gave a war and nobody came? What if nobody came to the consumer game, what would they do then? It begins and ends with us, we are the change we want in the world. Nancy


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