Brent McMillan by Brent McMillan
Practicing Akido in a Suicide Economy
The current economy is hell bent to head over a cliff and I don't want to go along for the ride. Therefore I choose to step aside, to the degree that I am able, and got off the bus. I would like to compare notes with others that have also chosen to do so. I'm not going to try to convince the rest of you of anything, it's too late for that. Either you get it at this point or you don't. The evidence is overwhelming.
A lot of authors, websites, etc. talk about preparing for what's coming, hell, I'm already there. Where are the articles and websites for us? I no longer have health insurance. I haven't had regular work for almost nine months. I pick up a little work here and there. The dystopian future is already here for me. I find myself watching movies like The Road, The Book of Eli, and No Country for Old Men, etc. It's what I identify with. There's a kind of comfort in watching them. I don't have cable but I do still have internet access, for now. I got excited about watching the series "Falling Skies" over the summer. I'm looking forward to the return of "The Walking Dead" in the fall. Hulu has "Jeremiah" online for free. I picked up a copy of Season one of "Jericho" for ten dollars from a closing Blockbuster store that was selling off it's inventory.
Late last year I moved back to the area that I grew up. My family has maintained a farm there for almost 30 years. Today I own 20 acres outright and am making payments to the bank on another 12 acres. I'm anxious about having any debt at all at this point. I cut up and canceled my credit cards in 1998 and payed off all unsecured debt over the next six years. I made a policy of only engaging in secured debt, now I'm not even confident about that.
Last year I started making a lot of lists, including a "List of Lists". What will I need to step aside? To remove myself, to the degree that I am able, from this suicide economy.
One of the tools that I've found helpful is to take inventory. I have attempted to inventory everything I own before but didn't get very far. I'm working at it now with a vigor unmatched by previous efforts. This is helping me to pare down. I'm selling, giving away, or throwing out stuff on almost a daily basis. For some reason the act of actually writing it down in an inventory helps me make a decision about whether to keep it or not.
I have been selling books at a local used book store. I sold off a bunch of my VHS tapes at a pawn shop. I sold off much of my records and cassettes at a local used music store. I regularly donate stuff to the Salvation Army. (I worked on a project for the Salvation Army in Indianapolis years ago and came away impressed with their efficiency and effectiveness.) Sometimes I have to set and just breath for a bit before I throw something away. (Okay, so I'm a bit of a hoarder. It's a family trait. I'm working on it.) I joined Freecycle. I also have an account on Craig's List.
I occasionally add an item. Someone gave me a ten tyne rake, which I needed. I bought a new handle for that mattock I've been keeping around for years and installed it, etc. I have been doing a lot of tool maintenance over the last nine months.
I'm trying to empty out a storage space that I've been making monthly payment on for almost eight years. I can't afford it anymore. Each time I go there I try to get rid of at least one box of stuff. I usually hit a wall of resistance at some point, then I call it a day. I try not to be too hard on myself. Good orderly discipline, at least one box each visit. In time I'll get there. It won't be much longer.
I'm working to become a part of a community. I'm overwhelmed to even try doing this alone. That is not going to happen. Survival through this thing is a "We" thing, not an "I" thing. One of my mantras when I feel anxious is, "God didn't get me this far to drop me on my ass."
I work on my mental attitude. I have to remember to take this thing one day at a time. Don't give up. I keep daily meditation books by my bed. When I wake up in the morning I read an entry to help direct my thinking for the day.
Pattern thinking. Establishing basic patterns: composting, vegetable garden, etc. The flavor of the veggies from my garden is amazing compared to grocery store food. (Michael Pollen has a general rule to the effect that If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant don't. I am moving towards that rule quickly.) I look forward to Pot lucks. I probably go to at least one a month. I've cut down on going to restaurants. I believe that money spent sharing food with others is money well spent, but I rarely go to a restaurant otherwise, now.
I'm working to create a cultural map. Where are the farmers markets? Where are the second hand stores? Where are the public libraries?
I don't own a car. I borrow or rent one on occasion. I'm working on getting back into shape. I mostly either walk or take a bus to get around. I walk a lot. My record since returning to Fort Wayne is over eleven miles in one day. That's a huge improvement in what I was willing/able to do since the start of this year. I've taken in my belt three notches so far. I heard that the average Cuban lost 30 lbs of body weight during the "Special Period" from 1990 to 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I've lost 20 lb. this year and 15 lb. last year for a total of 35 lb. It's not all bad.