The Man Who Lives Without Money

The man who lives without money

Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here's how he finds it.

If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I'd now be living without money, I'd have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal.

The plan back then was to get a ‘good' job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful. For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour.

If it hadn't been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I'd still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven't spent or received a single penny. Zilch.

The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma's quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then.

We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.

But that evening I had a realisation. These issues weren't as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.

The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we're completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff' we buy.

Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don't have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.

Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn't waste a third of it as we do today.

If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn't throw them out the moment we changed the interior d├ęcor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn't shit in it.

So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially. So I made a list of the basics I'd need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are four legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there far too much.

On my first day I fed 150 people a three course meal with waste and foraged food. Most of the year I ate my own crops though and waste only made up about five per cent my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.

Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid. I'd use wood I either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure' for my veggies.

I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan. For loo roll I'd relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn't double quilted but it quickly became normal. To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I'd use beeswax candles.

Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that's the thing I don't get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.

Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I've more friends in my community than ever, I haven't been ill since I began, and I've never been fitter. I've found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.

Could we all live like this tomorrow? No. It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both it and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both. But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not? For over 90 per cent of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money. Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.

People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills. Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.

Source: World Observer Online

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7 comments

  1. I find it really ironic that the reason I can't read this article about how money isn't as important as our society emphasizes is that there's an advertisement blocking the text in the first three paragraphs.

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    Replies
    1. Dude, use "adblock plus" and quit the mimimi.
      If u want to read, read it without excuses, if you dont want, dont make your self a fool with this stupid comment.

      Delete
  2. I don't think that it is wise decision to live for money, but life without money is much more terrible. We live to use all the opportunities like Ideals virtual data rooms.

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  3. I'm not even suggesting that I'm right...........but, the only language that EVERYONE in the World understands, is money....whether we like it or not.

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  4. for we brought nothing into the world, because neither can we carry anything out; 8 but when we have food to sustain us and coverings to protect us we shall be well enough off. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and many stupid and harmful desires which sink men into destruction and perdition. 10* For the love of money is the root of all things bad; hankering for it, some have strayed away from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.

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  5. I built myself houses, planted myself vineyards, 5 made myself gardens and parks and planted all sorts of fruit trees in them, 6 made myself reservoirs of water to water groves and shrubberies out of, 7 bought slaves and raised slaves, also had more livestock, cattle and sheep and goats, than anybody that had been before me in Jerusalem, 8* amassed myself silver and gold too and the rarities of kings and provinces, got myself singers of both sexes and mankind’s voluptuous delights, many a lady. 9 And I grew great and surpassed anybody that had been before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom too stood by me. 10* And nothing that my eyes asked for did I cut off from them; I did not check my heart from any enjoyments, but my heart got enjoyment out of all my trouble, and this was the portion I had from all my trouble. 11 And I faced all my works that my hands had made and all the trouble that I had taken in the making, and found it was all nonsense and chasing after wind, and nobody was better off under the sun.
    12** And I faced round to see wisdom and craziness and foolery—because what is the man who comes after the king to do? what has been done already— 13 and I saw that wisdom has as much advantage over foolery as light has over darkness; 14 the wise man has his eyes in his head, and the fool walks in the dark. But I had also learned that one fate befalls them all. 15 And I thought to myself “A fate like the fool’s will befall me also, and then what was I wiser for?” and I said to myself that this too was nonsense, 16 for the wise man with the fool has no remembrance forever, inasmuch as in the coming days everything will already have been forgotten; and how the wise man has to die with the fool! 17 and I hated life, because I felt the work that is done under the sun to be a bad thing because everything is nonsense and chasing after wind.
    18 And I hated everything I had taken so much trouble about under the sun, seeing I was to leave it to the man who should be after me— 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or foolish? but he will control everything I have taken so much trouble about and been so wise about under the sun—this is nonsense too; 20 and I swung round to lose interest in everything I had taken so much trouble about under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose trouble is taken with wisdom and knowledge and judgment, and he is to give it over to be the portion of a man that took no trouble about it—this too is nonsense, and a very bad thing. 22 For what does a man have by all his trouble and his purposes that he takes trouble for under the sun, 23* that all his life he is taken up with pain and vexation, his heart does not even lie quiet at night? this too is nonsense.
    24 There is nothing better among men than that one should eat and drink and let himself see good by his trouble. This too I have seen to be from God’s hand; 25 for who should eat or find flavor in anything without him? 26 For to the man who is good from his point of view he gives wisdom and knowledge and gladness, but to the sinner he gives a task of collecting and amassing to give to one who is good from God’s point of view—this too is nonsense and chasing after wind.

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