Most of my readers (more than six now thanks to Sal’s recent mail-out) think living OTG is a bit ‘out there’ (pun intended) and not the path most commonly traveled by normal people. And they’d be right. OTG’ers think a bit differently. Well, I do, anyway.
I, of course, write trying to convince my allegedly brainwashed audience of the opposite view and that OTG life is actually very normal. It is the best. By FAR! Healthy, natural, non-materialistic, sustainable, critter-friendly and beautiful, OTG is better, way better, than the constantly urban-grinding of your spirit to a nub – working so as to never-own your own home or be relieved of oppressive debt.
Confession: I do think we OTG’ers are closer to having a better lifestyle. NOT perfect – just better. But my bias is obvious. I don’t hide it. And I am not just a bit obnoxious about it. Apologies. Kinda. I am like the reformed smoker harping on those who have not seen the light and still carry a lighter to prove it.
But, I do understand any resistance you might have to the repeated message to get out, GET OUT NOW!
I was reminded of all this when a friend recently wrote to tell me that modern living is really very nice, having money is a good thing and that he recently traveled back to his home country to see family and friends and that the cost did not deter him because he was relatively well off. Furthermore, he enjoyed the pubs and the restaurants and even the madding crowds. “Modern urban life is good!”
Ergo, my message might be wrong.
He’s right. Of course he’s right. And I stand somewhat corrected. I really do. Urban life can be good. Of course it can. It helps that he is somewhat well-off being a lawyer, though. And, by his own admission, it took awhile to get there (he’s tipping the 70 mark, too). But NOT everyone living in the concrete jungle lives large or carries sway at the watering hole. Some never get there. Some never even get to drink. Some get eaten. It’s a jungle out there and I doubt that he would argue that.
But the debate is NOT really about that. His lifestyle vs mine. It’s not about living close to nature versus living close to a gazillion large-screen TVs. And, anyway, who am I to judge?
Well, I’m Dave. And I judge. So sue me. (And he might!)
No, there’s no debate. The message really is just about living more freely. Having choice. And because urban life is more expensive, living freely or even living simply and cheaply in the city is more difficult there than living in the country. In a money influenced world, it’s really that simple – you can’t live simple in the city. Those on a budget have fewer monetary based choices and many urban choices are determined by money. I would suggest that urban life is not as beautiful or healthy either but some people like traffic, sirens, chandeliers and gold plate. And they go to the gym. So, that part is just subjective.
If you boil it down to the essence, this OTG-promoting theme of mine is really just about freedom. It is about life choices and freely choosing amongst them. It’s about shedding the chains and anchors that are so easily and unconsciously acquired in a consumer society in the form of debt and obligation and, instead, living deliberately (Thoreau) and in the moment. It’s about finding value and meaning and even, perhaps, personal growth in something other than work, status symbols and manufactured loyalties and propagandized philosophies. And it is about having more time.
Put another way; politics, nationalism, branding, corporation-made mass entertainment and celebrity-worship pales into a misty grey distant fog the further you get away from it. In fact, the larger brain-control concepts such as nationalism and patriotism and other myriad popular crusades become more and more silly and irrelevant the further you get away from the source of those messages. By shedding the umbilicals and the money-chase, the OTGer tends to lose the fervor, the allegiance, the loyalty to those causes. And when doing so, we take back our energies. Feels healthier.
I mentioned in the first paragraph ‘alleged brainwashing’. Alleged because I have no idea if what I am referring to was or is conscious or not. I don’t even know if it is real or just my perception. Is brainwashing and mind-control on purpose? I dunno. But I kinda feel that I was inoculated and imbued with a pre-set social programming from the get-go. I was born into it. I was taught to love Canada, for instance, (like the Chinese are taught to love China or the North Koreans and Russians and Pakistanis are taught to be rah rah, too).
What’s all that in aid of? More to the point, who’s all that in aid of?
I was taught to value the system that so-called educated me. I was taught to be thankful for a life-style that was comfortable and modern and better than those other guys in poor countries. I was taught to be grateful. And, to a large extent, I am. But the educational system contributed less than 5% to my knowledge base. What did it really teach me? What was I taught and who mostly benefited from that?
In that great-but-subtle programming, I was encouraged to make the most of my life but, to do so in such a way that was measured by a retirement plan, plenty of money and a big house. I was told to respect and honour my institutions. And work my whole life for them.
Who was served by that?
I was and am told to trust the police. Teachers. Priests and politicians. Trust the bank. Believe 911. Believe in modern medicine, science, technology and especially NGOs that save whales and babies. Trust ’em. Follow their lead. Why? Because all those folks are supposed to know better, I guess.
The mantra: I really should follow their lead. We should all follow their lead. And pay taxes and other homages to them. Or go to jail. And I should go to war for them, too. If they tell me to.
I’m having second thoughts. They are stronger doubts than before I left.
As it stands for me, all of those pillars of western superiority have been found somewhat wanting as I aged. They are not pure. They are NOT always in aid of the right thing. They seem to have lied and cheated a lot. They are fallible. Flawed. And the common people, the animals and the earth itself has suffered at their hands as much as benefited.
I have less faith in the system. Call me crazy but I have less faith in the system than they want me to have.
Maybe getting out is a good idea. NOT because ‘being in’ is so bad – not in theory, anyway. But maybe because ‘being in’ has proven to be more than just somewhat flawed in the execution. Maybe ‘in’ ain’t right? Maybe we should all take a step back and see where this urban-centric, systems-reliant, institution-trusting, debtor-slave lifestyle is taking us. Maybe there is a better way?
Sal commented on the above blog: “Well written but you’ve said it all before.”
“Aren’t I saying something more? Something different?”
“Well, you are saying that going to restaurants is okay. Why would you say that when we have said that it was no longer okay for us.”
“Right! Why isn’t it okay for us anymore?”
“Well, several reasons. One; we don’t want to have to work and pay taxes so as to line up to pay too much for processed food in a noisy environment with all the TVs blaring. We hate that…….and two; it’s hard to find enjoyment in something like that when we have fresh oysters on the beach, fresh greens from the garden and we can afford to drink too much wine when we are at home where the food is better and it’s way more fun to entertain friends. We just think this is way, way better.”
“Didn’t I say that?”
“Nope. But I just did.”