I’d love to say this is some grand experiment in learning. And though it might turn out to be exactly that, this semester-without-spending-a-dime is motivated by a lack of fulfillment with my education. I was an inch away from dropping out of college a couple months ago. Standing on the cliff’s edge like an anxious paraglider, overlooking a beautiful canyon. After 16 years of classroom schooling, I had no desire left to play the learning game. I was tired of the whole impress-your-peers, make-good-grades, please-your-teacher system.
Ever since I got hooked on a couple well-written books (Fight Club, Into the Wild, etc…) I have fought against a materialism that dictates our American way of life. I can’t stand the way that things, material incentives, carrots wrapped in dollar bills rule our lives. I believe in the doctrine of doing. Of finding meaning not in things, but in people and experiences.
And so I created this challenge. Something I could believe in. Something that would be difficult, even a bit extreme, that would force me to see the world from a new perspective. Something that would teach me to trust that the fabric of the universe is good. That we are a community of beings supporting one another.
And so here it is – my Riches to Rags story, in which I will shed a layer of the upper-middle-class comfort that I’ve grown-up in, to experience life as an adventure in survival and serendipity.
No buying anything. Not housing, food, or entertainment.
Trust in today. Trust that enough will be provided.
Accept compassion. And give when you can.
At UNC, I have a tuition scholarship. With this I get classes and access to all of the facilities. There are gyms, libraries, printing services, warm buildings, 2 lockers, a health clinic, and water that will be available to me. I am distilling all my stuff down to a backpack and two lockers and my bike. Only the necessities. Here is how I shall live…
-I’ve got an Eno hammock, which I pad with my yoga mat. I lay my 25 degree bag on top and have found an almost secluded spot in a dark area of campus. Heat a water bottle up in a campus microwave, and wear some cold gear. Do some aerobic activity before bed.
-There is a group shower in the campus gym, open 6AM to midnight. Hot water and free towel rental. Perfect. Deodorant is with me in my bag. Air out clothes as often as possible. Reuse for 3 weeks, then laundry at friend’s place or in homemade washer.
-Bike- Bike to and from work, always, unless lots of predicted rain. Bike travels with me on campus. Park at night in a covered area. Lock up, always lock up.
-Car- Every Monday morning move from legal campus parking to street parking, located .8 miles from campus. Every Friday around 5:15 move to legal campus parking near the center for dramatic arts.
-Bookbag- Outside: 4 blue pens, 2 carabiners, bottle opener, compass, yoga mat, red bike light, Columbia winter gloves. Top pocket: sunglasses, Burt’s Bees, earbuds, thin gloves. Second pocket: Apple charger, phone USB charger. Lower pouch: sharp knife, mosquito net, headlamp, 6 Duracell AAA’s, hairbands, hackysack, harmonica, black Sharpie, tweezers, fingernail clippers, Ipod shuffle, and charger, Emergency Wilderness First Aid pack(gauze, band aids, OTC meds, tape triple antibiotic ointment, fire starter, lighter, hand warmers, sunscreen, Carmax, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, and 2 protein bars). Back pocket: Macbook Air, soft case. Inside: Wigwam sacred socks, Columbia Packable rain jacket, winter hat, journal, book, 6 subject divider, Mead folder (addresses, envelopes, 30 stamps, and passport copy), and Sesame Street running journal. Inside Top Pocket: Reach toothbrush, Colgate toothpaste, Right Guard deoderant, floss. Inside Lower Pocket: extra toothbrush, extra toothpaste, allergy medicine.
-Locker #1- Herbal Essence Shampoo, Velocity face wash, razor, 5 extra blades, 1 pair of socks, aftershave, travel Febreeze, Mary Kay hydrating gel, and Brink lock.
-Locker#2- Eno hammock, straps, homemade silnylon tarp, and 4 strands of 6 foot P-cord.