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Dave and Anke
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

If Everyone Did That

Endless Suburbia
by Niko Niko

from JPG Magazine

Thank you, gentlemen. 

If you noticed, everyone started off with their own stride, their own pace. Mr. Pitts, taking his time. He knew he'll get there one day. Mr. Cameron, you could see him thinking, "Is this right? It might be right. It might be right. I know that. Maybe not. I don't know." Mr. Overstreet, driven by deeper force. Yes. We know that. All right. Now, I didn't bring them up here to ridicule them. I brought them up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. Now, those of you -- I see the look in your eyes like, "I would've walked differently." Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, "That's bad." Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Now, I want you to find your own walk right now. Your own way of striding, pacing. Any direction. Anything you want. Whether it's proud, whether it's silly, anything. 

Gentlemen, the courtyard is yours.

-- Mr. Keating to his students from Dead Poet's Society

If Everyone Did That...

If you are thinking of-, embarking upon- or engaged in a life anywhere to the side of the Main Stream, someone has likely harrumphed and said, “If everyone did that...”.

The simple act of disgorging this elliptical sentence fragment is meant to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of that. Whatever that is.

That is to differ.

Should 'everyone', it is implied, differ as you do, Civilization would collapse. No one would grow food (say those who have never worked a farm). No one would produce (say those who 'manage'). No one would create (say those who consume).

Though you might well earn your living, pay your way (stay out of debt) and must needs be creative in your entire approach to an 'under'-documented lifestyle, the way you differ is felt to be somehow subversive and/or parasitic.

Ironically, to stand out from the crowd is an urge that can seem obsessive. These same folks tend to produce, buy or sell soap in one form or another. But a fine mansion, yacht or car; fashionable pursuits, attire and tastes; a partner who reflects well... these comprise the 'standard of living' which we challenge by stepping a bit away.

The less of our life comes in some, off-the-shelf package, the greater the challenge. To ourselves, but also to them.

And how do we differ? After all, we're not talking nihilism or even cannibalism.

We live at or near the fringes of society. Consume less. Spend proportionally less of our lives developing purchasing power. Pay proportionally fewer taxes. A little more of our labor is physical, self-directed and unpaid. Not all that different, really.

There is the issue of play. We get more of it, and it shows. We don't have to work for the money to spend on vacation, and we can well afford the time. Living as and where one likes, why would one vacate? Go visitin'? Travel? Sure. But vacation? No, thanks.

Turn it around... what would happen if everyone did as everyone does? WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Can't say that business-as-usual looks too good from here to the side.

What would happen if everyone did as we do?

My guess is, the Market would adjust, and maybe even settle down to a 'real' economy. Most of us would be happier and healthier. Good times rather than (an endless parade of) nice things.

The Planet and all who live on it would breathe a little easier.


  1. I hope I'm subversive. My cousin took an early retirement from the fire service. He girlfriend has been suggesting all kinds of jobs he could do.

    . . . or, I said, you could train with me and learn how to have fun with less.

    "I like that," he said.

    She hit me.

    1. Hi Sixbears,

      Fun with less... DEFINITELY subversive. 8)

      Dave Z

      PS. In ODDS BODKINS by Dan O'Niell, one of his characters uttered American blasphemy... BUY A USED CAR!!! He is promptly blasted by General Motors with the Gift of Tongues... silenced by a mouthful of them.

  2. Luckily the woman Sixbears illuminates is in girlfriend status, which implies somewhat trouble free replacement status.

    Good one, Dave.... thanks for some rah-rah from the cheap seats, where my view is often untroubled, placid, spectacular, undirected (relatively anyway), and sane.

    1. Hi Robert,

      Resquiescat In Pace... and beat the rush. 8)

      Dave Z

  3. Sometimes it's mighty handy to have most of the human world at work and generally near settlements monday through friday. At least that's what I think when I get to be out in the world during those times.

    1. Hi David,

      An excellent point. The 'Half-Urban World' has concentrated most of everybody in places we'd prefer to avoid. That leaves the rest for fringe-dwellers!

      Dave Z

  4. Every time the wife and I drive through suburbs like the one in the photo above I always say "slums of tomorrow". How do people live like that?


    1. Hi,

      Howard Kunstler argues in The Long Emergency that suburbs will prove to be the greatest mal-investment the world has seen. They may not even qualify as slums. 8(

      Dave Z