Unconventional Living: Arguing Against It


For Rainy Days

“Tradition is what you resort to when you don't have the time or the money to do it right.” ~ Kurt Herbert Alder

Diana said...

“We made friends with this one Argentinean guy here in Jeddah, his name is Camilo. He reminds me of you. No worldly possessions (or at least just a little bit; he has an iPhone and a laptop, that’s it), and more importantly, no DESIRE for worldly possessions.What's that like?

What it’s like? I don’t know. I can’t imagine not having desires for worldly possessions. I can’t imagine not going to sleep in a safe place at night, knowing for certain that I’m going to wake up tomorrow with proper breakfast, lunch and dinner at the exact time I have had them today, yesterday and everyday.

I have desires for worldly possessions. Hoards of desires! I want things and places and people! I want a 60 digit income, renovating the family home in Jakarta, buy a massage table, visit friends and family in Bali and Seattle and Pretoria on a whim. I want those things too!

I just don’t feel so bad about not getting them. For one reason, my relationship with the things that I want and don’t have is pretty much like my relationship with Prince Charming: probable but not really realistic. So if these wants do come true, I would be pleasantly surprise, and if they don’t, well, basically I just have a lame fairy godmother.

Which is where being lame begins.

Historically, there are two kinds of people who would and should avoid worldly possessions:

  1. The Brahmin/Monk/Priest, people who dedicate their entire lives answering a holy and divine call to serve the Lord and humanity for the greater good.
  2. The second kind, the kind that the prophet had warned against entrusting them with material and worldly possessions, simply because they can never handle worldly possessions without fucking it all up: the Fool .

Which brings us to the second reason why my relationship with the things I want and don’t have is so calm and timid. You see, by default, I’m the fool.

You know all that jazz about living this unconventional lifestyle, with possessions that fit into one backpack and never worrying about the next 5 years from now? Well, those are just intellectualized arguments, sublimated and fluffed up to deviate your attention from the simple truth: “That I have absolutely zero self-control in financial management.”

And I’m stubborn at it too. So stubborn that I’m trying to convince you into it. But you’re not buying this load of crap, are you? Yeah, neither is most of the population who know for fact that having money – even just a little bit - is better than having none at all.

Okay, so maybe you do buy it, just a little bit, but not all of it.

And let’s say you want to fix me and my silly attitude towards money and life, what would have been your troubleshooting darts?

Possible Troubleshooting Darts for the Chronically Foolish Money Manager:

  1. Shock Therapy. Give me a good wallop in the ass, throw me on the street and make me know exactly how uncomfortable it is to live without money. [Dude, I spent my entire income from working in Aceh on funny cigarettes and vacation trips that I couldn’t afford].

  2. Role Play. Force me into being responsible about someone else’s life. [Done that a couple of times. Couldn’t take care of a cat and a dog, thank heavens I never had to take care of a living human being.]

  3. Coup d'├ętat. Give up on trying to teach me financial management, seize all my accounts, allow me only allowances. [Which is why a hefty chunk of my income is automatically debited to a saving account.]

  4. Rabbit’s Foot. Cross your fingers and pray that I always have people to count on, based on the fact that I’m such a nice and useful person so far that money isn’t the issue. [“Will cook and clean and massage for food and accommodation.” – Sounds pitiful, but has been going fine so far that I still have hands and eyes and feet, no?]

  5. Old Schooling. Give me a job. [Hm. Now, there’s an unoriginal, conventional, politically correct thought – That might only work if you’re offering me a job in the Timekeeper’s home.]


I don’t seem to really want to leave the comfort of my home; especially because knowing that – out there – I’d be out of words to say, paralyzed with a debilitating self-pity/agoraphobia, and gorgeously slim with all the meals and stress of working for money.

Can we leave it there? Dude, I can afford this life, and maybe it is the only kind of life that is right for me, right now.

If YOU want to have a try at it, make sure that nothing else works for you too. Because, just like everything else you invest your time and effort in, you can’t love it if you don’t really want it. And sometimes, it’s a little worse if you had to do it when you don’t know WHY.

This post, my friend, had been my self-argument about why this lifestyle has been the only way that it works for me right now. It wouldn’t have worked for me 3 years ago, when I had just left Saudi. It wouldn't have worked for me 7 years ago, when I was still robust with so much energy, fresh undergraduate in my early-twenties.

The best thing about this post, now that I’m almost done writing it, is that if things do change, I have the assurance from a list of troubleshooting solutions to work from. And until that time comes, I only need to get the next thing on my to-do list crossed out: Post. Shower.

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