Blackspot

Escaping the rat race

How one man left the consumer obsessed urban rat race to become self-sufficient in the desert.

Many of us feel stuck in the city living an endless rat race. We may have dreams of moving into the wilderness and becoming completely self-sufficient, but very few actually take the plunge. Today the San Francisco Chronicle reports on how one man did it, and how a growing trend may be following:

 

Carl is taking part in a long-standing American tradition of giving up on the endless drive to earn more money and abandoning a society based on consumption of goods. In the 1840s, there were the transcendentalists and writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who escaped the rat race in Boston to the quiet quarters of Brook Farm. Henry David Thoreau went to live in the woods by Walden Pond. In the 1970s, over 1 million hippies left cities for rural areas in order to grow their own food and live off the land.

These days — with the price of oil topping $130 a barrel, an ever-weakening dollar and food shortages worldwide, moving toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle suddenly seems like a good idea again.

Although there aren't any hard numbers on people like Carl, anecdotal evidence indicates that there may be a consumer backlash in the making.

 

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Comments on the article “Escaping the rat race”

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Robert Kohn

I live in Palm Springs, CA. Although this is by far the most materialistic society I've ever lived in, there are things to partake in other than mindless shopping. Hiking in the mountains is my favorite pastime. I won't move into the wilderness. I doubt that the author of this San Fran Chronicle piece would.

Revolutionary poems, page 10 and onward : www.solsticemagazine.org/Solstice%202008%20web.pdf

Robert Kohn

I live in Palm Springs, CA. Although this is by far the most materialistic society I've ever lived in, there are things to partake in other than mindless shopping. Hiking in the mountains is my favorite pastime. I won't move into the wilderness. I doubt that the author of this San Fran Chronicle piece would.

Revolutionary poems, page 10 and onward : www.solsticemagazine.org/Solstice%202008%20web.pdf

Anonymous

yeah he did that but first he made his money--that is how he was able to afford living in the desert, planning to build his windmill. I don't knock the guy for reevaluating his life and taking a different path. But his previous lifestyle affords him his new one. In this world you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Anonymous

yeah he did that but first he made his money--that is how he was able to afford living in the desert, planning to build his windmill. I don't knock the guy for reevaluating his life and taking a different path. But his previous lifestyle affords him his new one. In this world you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Anonymous

He may have seen the writing on the wall before he made the final leap. Leaving a consumer lifestyle without thought and preparation would leave one open to likely failure and possible disaster. Can't knock the man for how he did - more power to him. Where I live property is extremely expensive so I purchased a few acres very north where there is water and a possible cooler climate. I am 64 years of age and can still chop wood, haul water, fish and garden. I can also handle a rifle if it comes to that. I don't relish a bush life style, but there are few affordable choices in between and suburbia , commuting, the cost, the ever present danger in winter and the plethora of agressive, angry and downright selfish drivers have made doing this lifestyle a constant stress and aggravation. I think it's about finding peace and purpose on your own inner terms, and not according to the false values we've been brain washed into.That being said, you can make small changes that will help you feel more inspired within yourself. I keep a large vegetable garden in my landlady's back yard, and she benefits as well as I, and it has brought her back to her Italian roots-not a bad thing. We are also gathering rain water and conserving in ways that ten years ago were not considered. Riding a bike more, practing the three r's, community clean ups and tree planting are all part of a way to make a statement that frees your spirit and helps connect you with life on so many levels. Don't feel that you have to run or that your resources are to miniscule to matter. Try a small thing, learn it, share it, add to it. With a little faith and application, much can develop and grow where you are at. Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose and much to gain. Best Wishes.

Anonymous

He may have seen the writing on the wall before he made the final leap. Leaving a consumer lifestyle without thought and preparation would leave one open to likely failure and possible disaster. Can't knock the man for how he did - more power to him. Where I live property is extremely expensive so I purchased a few acres very north where there is water and a possible cooler climate. I am 64 years of age and can still chop wood, haul water, fish and garden. I can also handle a rifle if it comes to that. I don't relish a bush life style, but there are few affordable choices in between and suburbia , commuting, the cost, the ever present danger in winter and the plethora of agressive, angry and downright selfish drivers have made doing this lifestyle a constant stress and aggravation. I think it's about finding peace and purpose on your own inner terms, and not according to the false values we've been brain washed into.That being said, you can make small changes that will help you feel more inspired within yourself. I keep a large vegetable garden in my landlady's back yard, and she benefits as well as I, and it has brought her back to her Italian roots-not a bad thing. We are also gathering rain water and conserving in ways that ten years ago were not considered. Riding a bike more, practing the three r's, community clean ups and tree planting are all part of a way to make a statement that frees your spirit and helps connect you with life on so many levels. Don't feel that you have to run or that your resources are to miniscule to matter. Try a small thing, learn it, share it, add to it. With a little faith and application, much can develop and grow where you are at. Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose and much to gain. Best Wishes.

Anonymous

I used to love going hiking in the bushland near my old house, until I was slapped with a tresspassing charge. What mystified me was that there were no signs that it was private property, and the only fence in the entire area was rusty and half-collapsed. Everyone had assumed it was abandoned, and everyone walked their dogs around there because it was nice, hilly, rocky terrain that could really give your body a workout. Now, stuck out further, my only real option is walking around the streets - there's very few actual parks around here, and most of the truly good hiking areas are fenced off. I still try to take the time out to go hiking along the creek, but I'm a little more careful to watch out for other people now. On a more food-centric note, I recently started a vegetable garden with my mother. Using only horse manure, seaweed solution, lawn clippings and kitchen scraps we managed to get a 4kg pumpkin, at least 1kg of tomatoes (most of which are now being sun-dried or made into sauce because we can't eat them), enough spinach to fill a 5L bucket, and some truly gigantic zucchinis. I wasn't even aware that vegetables could get that BIG.We're not even on good soil - most of Adelaide is heavy clay, and very few things seem to like the climate. We water only once every few days, using a bucket (and we don't water if it's rained), and the plants only get fertiliser once every four or five weeks, if that. I was sure that growing your own fruit and vegetables took hours of effort, but it's actually the ultimate lazy-man's way to get food. The whole garden, for me, is only 4m away, and I can pick from it whenever I want, rather than waiting for a store to open. The tomatoes are in pots, and we're soon going to be potting lettuces, thornless blackberry brambles and fruit trees, as well as planting potatoes, onions, garlic and some raspberry canes. Even if you don't have a backyard, there's ways to grow vegetables - packing crates and old Styrofoam boxes are good, or you can buy actual pots if you feel like it. Fruit trees will even tolerate being potted, although the fruit will be much smaller (and IMO much nicer-tasting as a result). The stuff I can get from my garden makes store-bought vegetables seem bland, undersized, and overpriced for that.

Anonymous

I used to love going hiking in the bushland near my old house, until I was slapped with a tresspassing charge. What mystified me was that there were no signs that it was private property, and the only fence in the entire area was rusty and half-collapsed. Everyone had assumed it was abandoned, and everyone walked their dogs around there because it was nice, hilly, rocky terrain that could really give your body a workout. Now, stuck out further, my only real option is walking around the streets - there's very few actual parks around here, and most of the truly good hiking areas are fenced off. I still try to take the time out to go hiking along the creek, but I'm a little more careful to watch out for other people now. On a more food-centric note, I recently started a vegetable garden with my mother. Using only horse manure, seaweed solution, lawn clippings and kitchen scraps we managed to get a 4kg pumpkin, at least 1kg of tomatoes (most of which are now being sun-dried or made into sauce because we can't eat them), enough spinach to fill a 5L bucket, and some truly gigantic zucchinis. I wasn't even aware that vegetables could get that BIG.We're not even on good soil - most of Adelaide is heavy clay, and very few things seem to like the climate. We water only once every few days, using a bucket (and we don't water if it's rained), and the plants only get fertiliser once every four or five weeks, if that. I was sure that growing your own fruit and vegetables took hours of effort, but it's actually the ultimate lazy-man's way to get food. The whole garden, for me, is only 4m away, and I can pick from it whenever I want, rather than waiting for a store to open. The tomatoes are in pots, and we're soon going to be potting lettuces, thornless blackberry brambles and fruit trees, as well as planting potatoes, onions, garlic and some raspberry canes. Even if you don't have a backyard, there's ways to grow vegetables - packing crates and old Styrofoam boxes are good, or you can buy actual pots if you feel like it. Fruit trees will even tolerate being potted, although the fruit will be much smaller (and IMO much nicer-tasting as a result). The stuff I can get from my garden makes store-bought vegetables seem bland, undersized, and overpriced for that.

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