Archive for the ‘Dropping Out’ Category

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Possession

March 23, 2008

I thought I’d done quite well in abandoning the materialist mindset, I don’t want for flash cars, electronic goods or plush lounge suites, nor do I desire nick nacks and concrete ornaments for the garden. However I still have one weakness in this area and it pretty much cancels out the gains I have made everywhere else.

It’s very relevant at the moment too. We’d like to buy some land but the desire to own a beautiful piece of land or one with an awesome view is kind of overwhelming. I do want to feel excited or inspired by the place we eventually buy but like everyone else I keep wanting what is out of my grasp.

Anyway, Ran has pointed out the Moneyless World blog and whileI was checking out an old post I found this paragraph which really hit the nail on the head for me.

I find that beauty is overwhelming & disheartening if I am in the wrong mind – the mind that wants to possess. Then my new Mind realizes beauty is neither created nor destroyed, but eternally goes from one form to another, and only beauty’s forms vanish, like flowers! This is when I realize that Heaven is ever at hand. But the greed mind, the mind that wants to possess & capture in picture frames, thinks that the forms are it. So the greed mind grieves when the forms pass.

The degree to which this guy has abandoned our culture makes my own attempts feel decidedly amatuerish. It’s true that we have our own path to follow but the perspective he has on our culture really shows through in the philosophy he produces. It reminds me of a quote I posted recently from Bill Mollison

I can easily teach people to be gardeners, and from them, once they know how to garden, you’ll get a philosopher. But I could never teach people to be philosophers – and if I did, you could never make a gardener out of them.

I’ve never been in danger of paying much attention to a university-taught philospher but this really does ram home how much we can learn from people who feed their mind with real-life experiences.

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Exit Conspiracy

November 3, 2007

This was supposed to be posted about a week ago when it would have been much more timely. On the better late than never theory, here it is, late;

Tim’s got a post about stepping out of the conspiracy theory headspace and it’s got me thinking about how much good judgment is missing in our world. I have friends who like to tell me that people are spontaneously getting stupid or that we have evolution in reverse or some such. Frankly I think this is just another sign of poor judgment, it’s a step up from common poor judgment but we really need to get to the top of the stairs and not just be smug about being on a different step to the rabble.

One of the problems is that our judgment is stripped from us as we grow up. We’re supposed to learn to use our own judgment via our relationships with stable adults and from our ever-growing body of life experience. School very effectively prevents this by separating us from the grounding experience of our connection with our parents and presenting subjects as discrete disconnected areas of information, which can only ever be verified by reference to a higher authority (the teacher). It’s interesting how often the word separation comes up in there, (almost) needless to say it also separates us from genuine life experiences and nature.

The mess this creates is then locked-in as adults by the media, which both distracts us and distorts the flow of information that we need to make sense of the world. By now we’re getting into the 3rd generation of this carry-on and you can see the results in these comments of an old teacher that I keep hearing about ­everywhere. It obviously strikes a chord but I don’t think anyone knows what to do with it.

The teacher is right about technology short circuiting kids brains but he misses the part of his institution in it. Both serve to provide disconnections. The technology is particularly insidious though and is worth dwelling on. Under the guise of connecting us up it actually serves to disconnect us. Teenagers don’t have to learn the dance of saying what they want to say without insulting people (it would help if their own parents hadn’t insulted them throughout their child hood of course) because it’s not necessary to worry about that when you txting. Me, I can’t stand txt, I always want to be as clear as possible because I’ve learnt the need for clear communication from a lifetime’s experience of a million communication failures. Tis is only one example of the real-life experiences that kid are missing out on as they sit in the fake environment of school texting each other under the desk.

I mentioned before that no one knows what to do with this situation but there is perhaps one person who does. Gordon Neufeld, psychiatrist, dissects the issue of ‘peer attachment’ in Hold on to Your Kids and leaves the reader with the distinct impression that teenagers today are basically a case of the blind leading the blind (with occasional help from Britney Spears). Once I read about this issue a lot of things fell into place. It certainly explains what the old teacher is talking about and has stopped me from passing off such comments as merely being the result an ever-widening generation gap.

Back to Tim:

Upon my return to terra firma, it was rather difficult to untangle the effects of looking at the world through this lens. But I somehow did it. Part of it, I think, was simply having to go through unrelated emotional drama in my own life,

Emotional drama (if properly dealt with) must be a very grounding experience. I don’t know what Tim went through but I know that my own experiences have taught me a lot about myself – basically all the things I had to forget in order to be good at school. I was very good at school so I have a lot of things to unlearn.

I mentioned before about the anchoring effect of adults in a child’s life and I think once you get to know yourself better you reclaim the internal anchor that you were supposed to have from the moment you became an adult. Once that is achieved I think we can all start to work outward from our own center to create a properly functioning model of world. The key about this model is that it will not be handed to us, we will base it on our own judgment – which is another thing we can claim back as adults.

Tim refers to Jeff Wells as being someone who has learned to swim in the world of conspiracies. It’s possibly one reason his site is so popular, I always feel strangely calmed after visiting his site despite having just read about all manner of strangeness. I really don’t understand how he does this except to guess that he is the rare, maybe unique, event of a person who really does have a handle on the conspiracy landscape.

Of course he can’t really help his visitors who still bang on about how Noam Chomsky is a CIA asset or those who think that if we could just prove the JFK was assassinated by the powers that be or that 9-11 was organized by people in power we could finally change the world.

I think the main reason Chomsky won’t go into that territory is that he’s well aware that the evidence he presents of corruption in high places should be adequate to prove things are not as they seem. If his iron-clad and easier-to-stomach evidence can’t convince someone then swimming in the much murkier waters of JFK or 9-11 conspiracies is not going to achieve it either

The reason I back Chomksy as a person of substance is less about the evidence that people put forward and more about my understanding of people and emotions. To me it defies good sense to think that Chomsky is a construct of any kind. His analysis of the issues he’s prepared to entertain is far too good to be faked and I just think that he doesn’t want to confront the weirder more confusing stuff at an emotional level. This should hardly be considered a matter of surprise given that every one has their limit and most people’s limits are much less radical than Chomsky’s. Essentially what we’ve got is a guy who is more radical than 95% of the population and people are criticizing him for not going far enough.

To be honest, even if David Icke’s reptiles turned out to be the real deal I’m not sure what I’d gain by learning about it. There’s not much I can do about reptiles, I alredy know that the mainstream is just a matrix of lies and I’ve already decided to leave the beaten track and chart my own course – what more can I do?

I’ve got far more from following the truths I’ve learned in anti-civ writing about how I have been effected and how I might change in order to have the sort of life I want. Maybe the attraction of conspiracy land is that it takes responsibility away from people so that they don’t have to enter into the much more difficult territory of working on themselves – which means that all they have done is swap one matrix for another one. If a lot of mainstream people consciously make the decision to not get into this stuff because they know what it will mean for their lives (and they do) then living in conspiracy-land where you still don’t have to change anything means all you’ve done is move sideays into a much more cunning matrix.

I think once we’ve learned enough factual truths about our reality to see that a lot of mainstream beliefs are based on lies then we need to move on to dealing with the spiritual/mental truths of reality – which is why I get so much from Ran’s writing. I’ve learnt enough about how corrupt power systems are and now I’m learning how to undermine them with a different kind of power.

Kevin has arrived at a similar point, he’s more technical about it than Ran but has proven over and over again that the most powerful act we can undertake is to drop out of their system and to stop feeding the beast.

People on the Rigorous Intuition comments board sometimes refer to people like Chomsky and Amy Goodman as being Gatekeepers who’s job is to prevent people from looking too far least the uncover truer and deeper conspiracies. In my case Chomksy wasn’t a gate-keeper so much as a gate-way who led me into a new world that included Derrick Jensen, Ran Prieur, Jeff Wells…. It’s a long list. I think if people aren’t going through the gate it’s got more to do with what’s happening in their minds than Chomsky’s.

Essentially I used Chomsky as a stepping stone as I moved further and further into the fringes and gradually built up my map of the world. I’m now in a position where I can make all the connections from my personal experience out to those fringes. I think it may well be the people who haven’t used any stepping stones but have gone directly to deep conspiracy that have lost their anchor and tend to see a conspiracy behind every rock. At the very least if I keep my emotional intuition intact I can read Chomsky and evaluate what he has to say based on, well, what he has to say. Usually it seems pretty smart and I’ll take it on board. If I don’t like what he has to say, fine, I can leave those comments behind without having to build a great conspiracy theory to explain my actions.

Really, I think learning on the fringes (regardless of how deep you go) is great but at some point you need to get into some kind of action because that’s a natural human response. From Ran and Kevin I would say that dropping out of the world’s system is a key strategic move but if you really want to cement these changes in place then choosing how you raise you kids is going to make have biggest long term impact. To inform this decision I think that Hold on to Your Kids, for it’s technical insight and The Continuum Concept for it’s inspirational value are important resources but essentially they the can both be summed up with the advice to simply love your children. I have to add though, because many people love their kids but somehow don’t respect them, to remember that loving them includes respecting their opinions and the choices they make, even when they’re very little.

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Stories and stuff

September 22, 2007

I’m always interested in people’s personal stories. I often think they’re of more use than all the collected wisdom that us bloggers see fit to dispense. I’d love to see some kind of collection of these things but in the meantime here’s a few:

Dan’s story, John Brady’s story, Rix’s (not yet finished) story and how Urban Scout came into existence.

In other links: from Just Folks this article about Socialisation in Schools

I can’t believe I am writing an article about socialization, The word makes my skin crawl. As homeschoolers, we are often accosted by people who assume that since we’re homeschooling, our kids won’t be “socialized.” The word has become such a catch phrase that it has entirely lost any meaning. The first time I heard the word, I was attending a Catholic day school as a first grader. Having been a “reader” for almost 2 years, I found the phonics and reading lessons to be incredibly boring. Luckily the girl behind me felt the same way, and when we were done with our silly little worksheets, we would chat back and forth. I’ve never known two 6 yr olds who could maintain a quiet conversation, so naturally a ruler-carrying nun interrupted us with a few strong raps on our desk. We were both asked to stay in at recess, and sit quietly in our desks for the entire 25 minutes, because “We are not here to socialize, young ladies.” Those words were repeated over and over throughout my education, by just about every teacher I’ve ever had.

And for the few people who saw a posting here called J2 and are wondering what happened to it, I’m feeling very harrassed at the moment and it quickly became apparent that that posting wasn’t helping. Hopefully this small note will not cause me any problems.

Lastly, The Plan from Comrade Simba outlining his survival strategies for varying degrees of crashness – notable for it’s succinctness plus the introduction to the english language of the word ‘bazzooness’.

Even more lastly from Ted some Suburban Surivival advice on how to be homeless without looking like you are. Part1, Part2

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Home Work

August 24, 2007

Further to Ran’s discussion of roofing materials yesterday, I was indeed glad he bought the issue up, We will probably end up using a modern roofing material on the house we will build but I think we will make it steep enough so that long term some kind of thatch can be used over the top of it when it begins to fail, or else make the timbers strong enough that they can take homemade clay tiles if it comes to that. 

Ran quoted an email of mine which ended with: 

This roofing issue is hard, maybe we need to get away from attempting to go long term and look at what renewable materials are available locally so we know we can always maintain it. 

If we’re looking long term then this really is our only option but I have to admit that it wasn’t my ‘position’ on sustainability that prompted me to make this comment. It was a combination of trying to think really long term along with a quote from a book called Home Work, by Llod Kahn. This quote got the point across to me in a way that no one had previously: 

In the early 70’s I got on a charter flight to Ireland, crossed the Irish Sea and got a long ride with a salesman; when he learned I was interested in building he started pointing out buildings and showing us that each was built of materials from near the site. You see the slate roofs, there’s a slate quarry nearby…” and then, “Now the roofs are tile because there is clay in the soil here…” As we travelled through England, it was striking: the thatched roofs in Norfolk, land of marshes and reeds; the sandstone walls of the Cotswalds, where the light tan colours blend perfectly with the surroundings; cob in Devon; flint in Sussex… 

I got the book because it has a photo collection of unusual and low-tech buildings in it. It will serve as creative fuel for when I get to designing our new place but it also has more than that. It’s full of inspiration for dropping out and using non-mainstream methods of constructing homes. Plus it’s great eye-candy. Here’s some of the pictures from the front cover. Note the house on the little island.

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One thing that bugged me though was the collection of people in the book who had gone off the grid. The main focus for all of them was their wind and solar power generating systems. Clearly the issue of EROEI was never discussed but somehow it seems worse that in their attempts to get ‘away from it all’ they had actually bought ‘a lot of it’ with them. They had simply altered the energy equation so that they could maintain essentially the same lifestyle – except with the addition of more trees about the place.

A minor quibble though, it’s a great book, not just for the know-how but also for the inspiration.

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On the brink

August 10, 2007

I was planning to write a post about dropping out but geopolitical events of the last two weeks have rather distracted me. It really feels like the financial system is on the verge of a serious collapse. A few weeks ago there was a collapse of a couple of hedge funds in the US and this week there have been problems with funds in Europe as well and now the European Central Bank has released a truckload of credit into the system to make up for a lack of ‘liquidity’.
Basically no one is buying anymore.

Oh yeah, and China is threatening to withdraw it’s support of the US economy.

All this is kind of independent of the peak oil issue and It’s been a long time coming but I’m starting to feel like there’s not going to be much left to drop out of fairly soon. It’s not a good feeling.

I’m supposed to be working on getting prepared to ride out the crash but it’s so easy to get distracted by normal every day stuff – especially when you have children. I have to admit that when I wander round town with everyone going about their usual business it’s hard to hold the idea in my head that it’s all going to end – or at least change a hell of a lot. And when we were travelling in the bus, totally immersed in our immediate life experience it was nearly impossible to hang onto the idea.

It does feel more real this week though, especially as a friend told me ont he phone today that at a spiritual level he feels like a massive paradigm shift will happen in the next couple of days. I don’t yet know what he bases that on but it just adds to a growing sense of unease that I have – and it’s not helping me make decisions. I may actually just have to makes some guesses on a few things – which I don’t normally like to do.

However, in the event of life continuing in a kind of normal way for some time yet, which is just as likely, here’s some thoughts on dropping out;

I was looking in the Cryptogon archives the other day for an old posting and discovered this instead, it’s from the comments as opposed to an actual posting but here’s what Kevin had to say about dropping out.

… I formally studied insurgency and counter insurgency in college. I have a pretty good grasp of how low intensity warfare works, theoretically. I thought long and hard about how I could strike the most damaging blow possible to this diabolical system. Drop out.

Dropping out to the extent possible is the best choice. Doing that hurts this system in a serious way.
And, nope, it’s not easy out here on the Farmlet. But nobody said it was going to be easy! If I ever start to feel as though it’s too rough, all I have to do is think about that corporate prison camp reality I left behind. Fixes me right up.

What interests me about this is that someone like Ran agrees with him. The two guys are operating in entirely different head spaces, one a philospher, the other a techie but they’ve arrived at the same place on this issue.

The only thing I would add to that is that the simplest way of dropping out is to become debt free, or at least less in-debted. I’d estimate that roughly half of economic activity is devoted to generating income to pay back loans, meaing that half of economic activity is dedicated to gifting money to the people who own our banks, bless their flinty little souls.

Put aside things like leaving our high paying jobs and living lightly, the one, most signficant thing we can do is to focus on getting out of debt. We got our of debt in about 6 years, which means we have deprived the banking system of 19 years of interest payments. The other benefit of course, is that we have a lot more freedom because of it, which was thereal motivating factor at the time – not striking a blow to the heart of capitalism :-) Although the two issues are intimately tied together.

Basically our entire society has evolved as a mechanism for creating wealth for banks, it’s why we must have growth for the economy to function successfully. It’s so that us serfs pay our dues to our masters, except now they’ve realised there is a limit to growth and are in the process of engineering a fun new system for us.

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accidental dropout (part 1)

December 22, 2006

I’ve broken this into two parts, the first attempts to pinpoint the aspects of my child hood that set me up to a life of non conformity and the second begins as an adult when I’m beginning to think for myself. I’ve tried to make it as brief as possible but it’s been such a slow journey that there is a lot to include. I never had a desire to run out on mainstream life and I’m really missing fitting in with those around me. I just made (and my wife too after I met her) what I thought was one logical decision after another.

There’s always the dilemma in any drop out story of how far back to look for the seeds of today’s life. Not surprisingly I’m going to go delve back into my childhood for some of the route causes, it could be argued that to understand my life you need to go further back and understand the lives of those who went before me but this is just a blog post not a freaking autobiography.

In the past I’ve pinpointed schooling and university as two of the major institutions that push us toward obedience and despite having thought about this a lot I still struggle to pinpoint why they failed to properly break me in. From all appearances and by all accounts I was the perfect student all through my schooling. I was quiet, I did what I was told, I got good grades and I knew what the adults in my life wanted from me even before they did. I was ‘mature’ for my age according to school reports.

I was always perplexed as to why other children were rebelling against their teachers and parents, it seemed very clear to me where the power lay in these situations and I much preferred to minimise conflict and keep receiving all that life-giving praise. In fact now that I think about it I was kind of different, on days when we had a relieving teacher and all the other kids were running riot I just sat quietly at my desk and felt sorry for the poor relief teacher – who was so obviously failing at their job.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that because I kept my head down nobody realised I needed breaking in, no one tried to crush my spirit (until it was too late). It was a different story for my brother who obeyed the inner need to stick up for himself and got knocked back big time. Our father was a school principal too so the school environment was repeated at home.

It still doesn’t add up totally though because despite his experience my brother is still perfectly comfortable with anti-civ critique and the idea of dropping out. also have noticed that he naturally gravitates to situations that are outside the mainstream. He even reads this blog.

It may simply be that our mother was loving enough to us as infants and gave us such a strong base that we would always have a store of inner strength to cope with school. It certainly didn’t feel like it at the time, as a kid I felt deeply insecure, weak and pressured by my peers but looking back it’s equally clear that despite this I never actually compromised who I was at any stage.

Credit too to my father. He regularly gets a beating around here for his school masterly ways but via his belief in educational principles he always forced us to ask questions and I think the questioning attitude became a life long habit because of it. (it’s back fired on him now but that’s another story). He also used the word ‘different’ as a compliment. Someone who was a bit different always earned his respect. It doesn’t sound like much but it made non-conformity just that much easier to bear.

Fast forward to university. Architecture School was a much more overt attempt at breaking my spirit. It was pure misery for a long time and a shock to the system for someone who had always been the toast of his teachers to suddenly discover I was ‘wrong’. Of course by then it was too late, despite still feeling dreadfully insecure and despite still using the old tactic of keeping my head down I could not bring myself to change my value system to suit the new culture I found myself in.

The fact that I had suddenly gone from being the perfect student to a hopeless case in the space of a summer made it obvious something strange was going on. What’s more, my teachers’ cause wasn’t helped by the fact that a lot of them were complete nincompoops and holiday discussions with my educational expert father about their inability to observe basic teaching principles only further served to undermine my respect for them.

Much to my surprise I discovered myself in my final year designing a course that totally suited my interests, I got a bunch of good grades and an award for one particular project – all to the surprise of my classmates who had come to believe that I was one of the unfortunates amongst them who just didn’t have the right stuff.

Being a five year course there was a lot of flexibility in the final year but if you’d told me beforehand that I was going to do anything other than a middle of the road approach I would have said you were mad, I just felt so scared of everything. Mostly I think now it was an act of self-preservation as I tried to remove myself from the grasp of a bunch of people who seemed intent on doing me harm.

So I escaped that period of life and continued drifting. I say drifting because all I did after that was follow other people’s suggestions about what I should do with my life. The fact that that turned out to be getting a respectable job and beginning a career meant it didn’t look like drifting but I really lacked any sense of purpose and basically I was still terrified of getting it wrong.

I always look in amazement at people like Dan who is only twenty and already focussed on the important things in life but I needed a period to decompress and let the habits of childhood fade away. I hadn’t been broken but I had spent twenty years habitually obeying people and that takes a while to shake off.

I spent five years proving to myself that working as a professional was a bad idea, it might not have taken so long but I was still drifting and to start with I quite liked it. I had this real sense of elation at being able to do something genuinely useful after all that pointless hoop jumping that we’re put through in the education system.

Eventually though that feeling wore off as I went through three different employers in five years. The first were virtually incompetent and I left in frustration but the other two were far too competent, they saw in me someone who hadn’t been ‘finished’ properly and immediately set about making me prove that I would endure anything in order to succeed in my career. Fortunately I had a friend in a similar predicament so we swapped notes and charted a course out of there.

That’s the skinny version of my ‘career’ but I think that it’s significant that I just couldn’t be bothered with the effort required to turn myself into a thorough and competent professional. I was smart enough, young enough and white enough to succeed. I am creative and have pretty good people skills but I just didn’t care enough the future of my employer’s business or that thing called a career to put the rest of my life on the shelf for the benefit of… who? My bosses? My nation? My industry? the economy?

Go to part 2

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accidental dropout (part 2)

December 22, 2006

Go to part 1

Where the dropout proper really starts is back in my first professional job. In 1997 I took a three month trip overseas (at someone else’s suggestion), I was very careful to make sure I had a job to go back to before I left but when I did get back I discovered what a dumb idea that was. I hated returning to the same depressing job so much that within six months I’d left again on another overseas trip. This time to Canada, with an English friend doing a climbing trip (We shot video of the trip which is what I have been editing this year).

The trip was notable because it was the first serious risk I had taken, not only was I a bit short of cash but this time I had no job to go back to. It seems pretty tame to me now but it took a horrible job with no apparent alternatives to get me going. As with most risks in our culture it was only a perceived risk and my life improved immeasurably when I took it.

The most significant event on the trip happened in a guy in Calgary when I guy we were staying with handed me a Noam Chomsky book. Suddenly everything fell into place, finally I had a decent explanation for the state of the world! It didn’t cause me to change my life right then and there but it did start me on a path that has lead me to here.

The other book that changed my life was Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’.

I bet that’s got a few people scratching their heads but I’ll explain. I saw the book lying around at my parent’s place one day and picked it up after reading the blurb – which had me convinced it was piece of sociology about how rich people passed on their callous attitudes to their children.

I swear I’m not making this up. More importantly though, this was around the time that Karen and I had become engaged and I had finally started thinking about what I actually wanted to do with my life.

We sat down one might and sketched up a plan of our ideal house. It was the sort of thing engaged couples do but after that we drew again, this accounting for how much money we could raise for a mortgage. It was pathetically small (Architects in New Zealand earn diddly squat – another long story) and I knew we would need to extend it as soon as we had children and we were only planning to wait a couple of year’s at most for that.

It was at this point that I got this alarming vision of what my life was going to be like. At this time I was working for my second architecture firm and was fairly sure that it wasn’t what I wanted to spend the rest of my days doing. The thought that I would be trapped there for the next 25 years as we paid off a mortgage was incredibly depressing. I didn’t want to be one of those Dads who came home from work exhausted and grumpy but I knew that if we did things the normal way that is exactly what would happen to me.

It was after this terrifying vision that I read Rich Dad Poor Dad. I now understand that in the world of financial advice the book has nothing new to say but as the son of a teacher and a nurse the idea that regular jobs were an impediment to making serious money a real eye-opener.

A few days after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad a friend of mine who had just moved to Raglan (which was half an hour’s drive to the west of Hamilton where I lived at the time) dropped in and told me about this piece of land he’d just seen out there. He wanted to buy it but it was too much for his family to afford. Apparently it was the right size to subdivide into four parts, it had water views and was relatively flat. In short it had development potential

This was my opportunity! My get rich quick scheme – or more accurately, my pay-of-the-mortgage-quick scheme. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep, I lay there nearly all night planning how we could make it work. We had no money but we did have comfortable middle class parents with nice houses that could be used as collateral. My father who had spent his adult life renovating and building houses on the side in an attempt to build capital was more than happy to help out. He wished he’d been as daring as we were. Now instead of working hard in the building industry only to see the profits going somewhere else I would be keeping that money in-house.

We signed for the land the day before our wedding and trucked the first home on six months later. With great enthusiasm we flew into the work of renovating the house, adding a deck and carport and redecorating the inside. It took a year before the combination of doing that on weekends and holding down a highly stressful job started to get to me.

We were also pregnant with our first child so naturally we extended the mortgage and I left my job. It was six weeks before our first child was due and I’d just told my bosses that I was leaving because working for them was bad for my mental health. I was tired but surviving on the buzz all of this gave me.

Now instead of being in an office all day I would be outside doing something physical, building, painting and digging (OK, I wasn’t so keen on the digging) with just a bit of office work thrown in for wet days. It was certainly a change and I like being more active but I have also learned that if I’m going to work it needs to be with people. In fact, not just with people, it needs to be about people.

I was so quiet as a child that I still find it hard to believe I have an extrovert type personality. I keep being surprised at how bored I get working alone but all those personality tests keep putting me out there so I guess it must be true. At least now that I was taking risks I was able to learn more about myself.

At last in my 30s I was finally figuring out who I was.

I count myself amongst the lucky to be at home while my children were young, it has I hope, saved me from turning into the distant grumpy Dad that you commonly find in suburbia.

What was really interesting too was that now that I didn’t have a regular job some of my beliefs started to change. Although I never liked my job and knew that my bosses’ desire that I help them ‘grow the business’ was nonsense I was still in a position where I had to stay in denial about the true tragedy of paid employment in order to get out of bed each day. Without the need to believe this nonsense I was able to see more clearly the lies I had been telling myself. Especially the lie that I had no choice but to kill myself a little bit day by day in exchange for money, prestige and security.

The flexibility of working from home also allowed for other things to happen. I’d discovered via Znet (which I had found while looking for Chomsky articles) a website for Alternative Radio. The website said that they gave their show free to community stations and I immediately thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if our local station would play it?’.

It soon became apparent that if I wanted it to happen I would have to play it myself and so I soon found myself on-air introducing the show and playing music in between segments. I had previously held no interest in being a DJ but I quickly found myself reading out news items, playing other alternative news shows, and filling out the entire 3 hour slot. Eventually I began conducting my own interviews on New Zealand based issues because there was no one else doing it and then syndicating the show to a handful of Low Power FM stations in Auckland and Wellington. For good measure I also set up my own low power station in nearby Hamilton, transmitting from the roof of my parent’s house 24 hours a day.

As well as this I began to get active in both Indymedia and the anti-GE campaign, the latter after being utterly freaked out by the thought of pharma-crops when I read an article by a prominent NZ anti GE campaigner. I think every second radio show was about GE for a while after that. I was getting a real buzz out of my newfound ability to have an effect on the world. It was also tremendously satisfying to be working on things I genuinely believed in for the for the first time in my life.

Another thing I noticed is that my music tastes began to expand again, I hadn’t been exactly stuck in one place like some of my old friends had been but leaving work seemed to shift me to a state where I was (and still am) in need of something quite different. I now like far more experimental music than the mostly commercial stuff I used to listen to.

Initially I was too scared to tell people I met through my activism that I was a property developer. It didn’t really fit my identity but eventually I started to state it outright and enjoy the bemused reactions. It did come in handy though, when our anti-GE group made a presentation to the local council. I was able to stand up and say “Hi my name is Aaron, I’m a property developer and I’m very concerned about release of GE organisms in the district”. I was not what they were expecting to say the least.

About the time our second child was born (and we’d moved the third house onto the property) my friend in Auckland who runs Radio Chomsky recommended a talk by Derrick Jensen. I was so impressed by the talk that I took A Language Older than Words out of the library and found myself reading another of those life changing books.

This new critique of civilisation coupled with an awareness of peak oil really started to change my ideas of what our future might hold. The development was coming to an end and although I didn’t know what I would be doing afterwards I knew it wasn’t going to be more of the same. The original motivator had been to escape the mortgage and now that it was gone I found that making money for it’s own sake to be kind of dull. Added to that it had gradually dawned on me just how environmentally damaging our building industry is and I wasn’t sure I could keep sticking used chemically treated timber in the ground and new chemically treated everything into a house that my family was living in.

I discovered Ran’s website one night while trying to research the abiotic oil issue after an on air argument about it with one of my regular guests and quickly warmed to his take on the anti-civ world. His conclusions suit me better than Derrick Jensen’s and I spent many an evening reading his old essays and zines. A few months later I found myself setting up a blog after mistakenly thinking I had to do so to comment on someone else’s site – I quickly realised I had plenty to say and enjoyed that initial buzz you get when people start to visit. Now I’m really enjoying the interplay between the various blogs that exist round these parts. All this from another chance occurrence.

I don’t quite know what will happen next, I’ve had a lot of fun since leaving work but the excess of enthusiasm has left me a little burnt out. We’ve sold out last house and we’re travelling around the country in bus visiting old friends and seeing the country one last time. We might visit a couple of eco villages along the way and next month I’m doing a one week earth building course in Whangarei.

I’m dead keen to get a community around me, I know a village is one way of doing it but we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out. Right now I need to chill out for a little while and let the experiences of the last few years wash over me before I do anything else. I may have left the working world behind but I still find it damn hard to sit still and relax.

One thing where I think I have been really lucky is that even though Karen is a few years younger than me and I’ve kind of pushed her into things faster than she would have liked we still haven’t had the sort of major disagreements that I see happening amongst other couples about life philosophy. Best of all we’ve always been able to turn in-ward for support when the external criticism about how we live our lives or raise our children gets too great.