An honest evaluation of yourself is important. The way I currently
see myself, from the (imagined) viewpoint of the universe, is as follows:
Hm... Potentially valuable. Just needs to keep working at it. Leave her be for now. No more stuff, but don't take anything away, either. Keep the food good enough.
Thinking I shouldn't have any more stuff doesn't necessarily translate into self-hatred. I genuinely like myself. As such, I believe I am deserving of my own honesty. That way, I can become an individual who I solidly respect even more.
Truth is, I don't really want more than I have, anyway. I don't believe I deserve it. Again, that doesn't reflect self-hatred. When I say I don't deserve it, I mean that to have more would be beyond my level: I wouldn't be capable of responsibly taking care of and appreciating any more property.
Focus on What You Appreciate
It's easier for me to express gratitude now that I have less. It isn't having less in itself that does the trick, though. Rather, it's getting rid of things I don't appreciate, so I can focus on the things that I have appreciated for some time now. By focusing on those things, I can appreciate them even more. And that's how my life becomes more joyful.
Nothing is wrong with the stuff I gave up. I just don't want it. All in all, I feel much better about myself now. I feel that I am meeting life on an equal playing field-- neither one of us is doing a disproportionate amount of giving or taking. I'm not sacrificing myself to tasks I'd rather not be doing; meanwhile, life is not bestowing things upon me that I cannot care for responsibly.
This feels good. It's liberating.
Truthfully, I haven't lost any comfort. What I regarded at the house as "comfort" seems like death in hindsight. Constantly being wrapped up in a blanket, sitting in bed while using my laptop, eating ‘til it hurts... I am glad I cannot do these things any more. I don't think these things necessarily hurt my physical fitness (and certainly not my weight), but I didn't feel good about them. I felt like a sloth.
I'm OK with suddenly having a bit of physical scarcity to contrast that experience. Eating vegetables feels like coming up for air after being underwater for 2 minutes. Almost every time I eat, I feel energy being restored to my body-- something that's not very noticeable when you constantly eat a lot.
Sometimes it gets cold overnight, and I feel thankful for the two blankets that I have. And I really like getting to walk into a warm building in the morning. Especially when the bathrooms have nice, hot air-dryers… Mmm.
Similarly, I can appreciate when it gets cool outside, because that means that my car won't boil to death that day—and that means my food lasts a little longer.
It makes sense to me to cut down to the things that you truly appreciate. What’s the use of keeping things around you don’t use or care about it? There is no neutral: if it doesn’t facilitate your enjoyment of life, it’s draining you.
I was already appreciative of my car, and I have been for most of the time that I've driven it (except for the first couple months-- then I thought it was excessive silliness). I was already appreciative of my laptop, which I am very glad I can keep with me and use regularly.
I feel very close to these two possessions in particular. I don't need them to be joyful, but I am grateful that I get to use them. I love that I can use my laptop to think, to create things, and to share my ideas and creations with others. I'm glad that I can use my car to see people and places that I care about, to store my belongings, and to keep me safe, dry, and warm. I'm grateful to have these things in my life.
On the outside, it might look like I’m moving down in life. I feel like I’m moving up. I feel empowered now. I appreciate what I have, and am willing to keep it in good condition. I feel more in charge of my life. I have been bestowed with greater responsibility, and I’m ready to meet that responsibility. I know I can do it.
For me, this is part of the path to becoming a mature, self-respecting person.
There’s nothing inherently degrading about eating, sleeping, and keeping your stuff in a car. I don’t think any less of myself for it. As long as it’s safe, I think it’s best to do those things in an environment where I feel relaxed and grateful for what is there. If there’s too much around that I’m trying to resist or tolerate, it’s not worth it. I’m better off elsewhere.
I know that I have made the right decision for myself. It’s impossible to say how long I will live like this for, but it’s beside the point. It works right now.
Money != Power
Here’s the thing. If you suddenly were bestowed with millions of dollars... Your life probably wouldn't change much. Maybe you'd buy lots of new stuff and move to a new home. But other than that, the essence of your days would be basically identical. Your worldview, the way you relate to others, and the activities you partake in would largely be the same.
Honestly, if a million dollars fell at my feet right now, I’d probably put most of it in my savings account (if you’re even allowed to keep that much… I have no idea), and basically just keep living how I’m living for now. I would stay in my car, and I would continue writing, programming, running, and thinking as I always do (and occasionally getting laid. In my imagination, at least).
The most significant change I would make is to eat more and to eat more healthily (i.e. I’d regularly get produce aside from dried fruit, since I could shop as often as needed). That aside, I wouldn’t want to change much. I want to stay on this equal playing-field with life.
There’s no need to live in a mansion with Playboy bunnies when my contribution is nil in comparison. Even that aside, I genuinely enjoy the way I live right now. It’s an interesting experience, and I am glad to continue it. Plus I can’t say I’ve ever fantasized about Playboy bunnies anyway. They’re a tad excessive for me. ;)
One of the most important lessons I can learn right now is to stop regarding money as a power source. Money does not increase or decrease anyone’s power at all. Having a car doesn’t make me more powerful than someone who doesn’t have one. People who sleep, eat, and poop in houses aren’t more powerful than me.
Your power comes from your ability to process information (i.e. to think), to make decisions, and to take action. Those are the abilities it takes to get money in the first place. Money doesn’t make you powerful—rather, it requires power to attain and use in the first place. Spending money is a form of taking action.
On the other hand, money doesn’t necessarily enable you to take action. It can make certain things get done more quickly and with less effort, but simply having the money won’t necessarily be enough for you to get those things done. You have to genuinely want them done in the first place.
Whatever you want, consider how you might do it with the use of little to no money. If you think money must be thrown at your feet first in order for you to do it, consider that you don’t really want it. You’re just spitting out words, saying, “Gee, I wish I could do that!” in order to blind yourself to your responsibility for your life.
Complaining and blaming your discontentment on external things provides you with the comfortable delusion that the current way you are living is justified. You don’t have to change anything, because you can’t, because you don’t have the external resources to do so. Therefore, you can continue coasting without ever seriously evaluating your life—and, of course, without ever getting what you really want.
Here’s a rule of thumb: if you aren’t prepared to take action on an idea without money coming to you first, it’s a safe bet that you don’t want that idea to become reality. You don’t want to take that vacation, or go on a date with that girl, or build that technology, or whatever it may be.
Either your resolve is weak, or you’ve filled your head with ideas about things that you should want. In the case of the latter, you’ve let yourself be overly-influenced by the external world. You’ve absorbed information without ever processing it. As a result, what you think are your desires are not really yours—instead, they are a conglomeration of data you have gathered up in scraps from the outside world.
I want you to become aware of and go after what you want, because doing so makes you more powerful. The act of attaining doesn’t affect your power—rather, it’s exercising the will it takes to act and make things happen that does so. Your power is generated by yourself. You are a generator. When you burn energy in the direction of your desires, you’re actually fueling yourself to continue going further.
It’s like a muscle. The more power you use, the more you ultimately have available to you. Likewise, when you don’t use your power, you become capable of less. You start to rot.
Find something worth extending your power for. Go to where you can see through all the B.S. to the crystal clear place of the things that matter to you. You don’t have to die a slave to your own weakness. Instead, you can become a benevolent master of what lights you up. You can go to where life wants you to meet it. And the two of you can just keep going, together.
Exercising your power might leave you a bit sore the next day, but you’ll be all the more thankful for it. :)
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