Monday, February 05, 2007

T-Shirt #2.1

JK somewhere in CA -

Getting by with Less (Minus) Having More Time for What Really Counts (The New Plus)

It began six years ago. I was making great money for a 22 year old but I hated my job. I had the things many would consider important in life. I had a new car and a 4x4 toy for tearing up the woods. I had plenty of disposable income. I traveled and spent money like there was no tomorrow.

Then I read a book called Culture Jam. This book changed the way I felt about life. I quit my job and got a room above a bar for the summer at the beach. I worked only enough to barely pay my bills. I surfed and mountain biked and hung out with my friends. I only lived 1 mile from the beach yet in the beginning of the summer still drove there. I began to realize the insanity of this. I fixed up a junk bike and bought a surfboard rack for it. This is when I began to see the Bicycle as more then just an object for recreation.

The key vehicle for my childhood mobility took on a new meaning. I began to ride more. I went from driving 20,000 miles a year to about 5,000. I sold my 4x4 and my only car began to sit more and more. When I moved back from the beach I continued this positive inertia to find new ways I could substitute car use with the Bicycle. It became a challenge to see just how much I could accomplish.

In May of 2002 my girlfriend and I found out we were going to have a baby. He was not planned yet turned out to be the best surprise of my life. With the new values I had in my life I really wanted one of us to stay home with my son. My wife worked a job she attended college for and had great benefits. I was only spinning pizza at a local shop so the choice was an easy one. I would be a stay at home dad. This turned out to be the most life altering experience ever.

As soon as he could hold his head up I got him a trailer to tow behind my bike. He loved it. He would just stare out of the side window and watch the world go by. We traveled everywhere by bike and people were surprised if we showed up by car.

In March of 2005 I got rid of my car. It seemed pointless to pay insurance on something that just sat there. We used the money this freed up to pay down our dept and for more time together. I shop at thrift stores and try to never pay full price for anything. I break out the sewing kit to mend clothes. The less we spend the more time we have together. I have worked occasionally full time but for the most part I stay at home with my son.

A few months ago I purchased a used mini van. The idea of facing another winter without a car and being home stuck indoors with a 3 ½ year old clouded my judgment. It gets driven very little and I look forward to becoming a car-lite family again in the spring. The frugality of my life these days allows our family many freedoms I feel sorry others don’t enjoy.

I say “don’t” instead of can’t because the changes we have made are within reach for most. Our friends have been influenced by our decisions and this way of thinking is very contagious. Decades from now when the Voluntary Simplicity Revolution is analyzed, Minus being the New Plus will definitely have it’s mention. Am I naive? I hope for the future I am not.

“One must become the change they envision” Gandhi


Jeff Moser said...

Great essay! Every bit is true what he's saying. Getting rid of stuff and slowing down to enjoy life is where it's at! A lot of careful thought goes into my purchases these days. Do I really need it? Can I rent it instead? Can I recycle it? Does the neighbor have one I can borrow? I still have a ways to go, but I'm enjoying my journey towards simplicity. I'll look for Culture Jam at the library...

Curtis said...

Great to hear the story behind the -.

Incidentally, if you're not already familiar (and you certainly may be), you might want to check out a book by Andy Singer and Randy Ghent called CARToons. A friend in Australia sent a copy to me and I've been evangelizing it just a wee bit, especially among cyclists and peds. It's published by an organization called CarBusters, and much of Mr. Singer's work is available online.