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Poverty is my teacher

The sun is seeking shelter behind the clouds, taking the light and warmth with it. Normally Id find the lavender overtaking the sky soothing and comforting, but those days have long passed. As the light fades from the world, so it does from my eyes  As darkness envelops the city and the temperature drops, my heart hardens against the frostbite. Ive taken to driving through downtown, hoping to find something meaningful, a distraction worthy of my attention. As I stalk the streets into the heart of the city, I’m treated to a bevy of abnormality. An old black man in a wheelchair silently glides over the pavement at a glacial pace, his left foot his sole source of locomotion. I pass by distorted Daniel Day-Lewis in a daze. Nothing here phases me anymore. The oddities of the city are what give it its heartbeat, what imbue it with the breath of life. They are rough edges in no need of sanding, because they provide character and originality, becoming one with the intricate architecture surrounding me. I drive a few more blocks. The city’s homeless denizens have set up several makeshift shantytowns. Although their situation is deplorable and not envy inducing on the slightest but, they carry themselves with a quiet strength. These communities, hidden in plain sight, resonate with virtues long forgotten by the rest of society at large. Loyalty, companionship, generosity, and courageousness. Their nobility shines through the grime that coats them, and the vast majority walk gracefully through the streets, smiles plastered permanently on their faces. It causes one to stop and think about the futility of accumulation and consumerism. The pursuit of status in society’s eyes often comes at a great personal price. One that I’ll never be willing to pay.

In the words of the immortal Tyler Durden,
“You aren’t your fucking Khakis.” Truer words have never been spoken. On my days off, which are regrettably becoming a scarcer occurrence recently, I love to go to one of my favorite coffeeshops and people watch. This activity is most enjoyable first thing in the morning. You grab an Earl Grey iced tea and sequester yourself at a table relatively close to a heavily trafficked area. And that’s when you see them. Hunched over, eyes glassy, unsightly paunch protruding subtly over their ever expanding waistline. Regardless of gender, they always fit at least 2 of the 3 observations I just mentioned. Zombified, somnambulant automatons with no sense of personal direction. The living embodiment of failure as I define it. Six figures are meaningless if your body is rotting from the inside out through abuse and misuse, as contradictory as that sounds. I used to prioritize the acquisition of money over all else, and truthfully it’s still high on my hierarchy of needs. Paraphrasing Mike Cernovich, money is like oxygen in today’s world. You need it to function. You need it to make a change in the world. Ask any bohemian who still has their lifestyle subsidized and financed by Mommy and Daddy how important money is and you'll witness a diatribe that gives credence to the idea that they’ve been afflicted with Liberal Stockholm Syndrome. Remove their safety net and see hoe fast their illusions crumble. Make no mistake, money matters more than 95% of things in this world, and it’s not evil. It’s completely neutral, akin to the gun debate. The only things that matter more are health and relationships. You can claim to be anti-social and trendy, but no man is an island, and there’s no point in being a millionaire if you’re cold and stiff, being transformed into dirt. Make enough to live comfortably, make it earn more for you, and live.

I read a book on the life of Daniel Suelo. He’s a modern day raconteur, a vagabond that eschews materialism and the use of money all together. He travels the world by virtue of his word, his wits, and his wanderlust. His outlook on life struck me as equal parts innovation and idiocy. On one hand, he’s in excellent physical condition, a byproduct of surviving nearly exclusively on fruit, vegetables, and the occasional wild game caught and killed in nature. On the other, his teeth are literally rotting out of his mouth due to a complete lack of dental care spanning over 2 decades. Speaking as a minimalist, certain aspects of his lifestyle appealed to me. The independence of it all and complete lack of need drew me in, seduced me, and worked me over. While I may never sell all of my possessions to charity and go to live in a commune with a bunch of insufferable, unwashed hippies and hipsters, I've learned to survive without luxury. It is another form of weakness after all, another vice good sparingly but fatal if taken with any regularity. As stated before, there’s a certain nobility in desolation, and in this harsh world the underclass become the aristocrats, forged from iron tempered in the flames of adversity. They prove that not all aristocrats develop weak chins.

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