Letter to the Editor: Driving Around With My Girlfriend

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message-in-a-bottle

Hi Robert,

I don’t know if you can still remember me but we started the last year together at S’s New Year’s Eve party and had a short but great conversation about the possibilities of living a free life. You might know me as the German gypsy with the mustache. 🙂

When I was back in Germany after our meeting I immediately got your book. It was a lot of fun to read and you write with a great style. It encouraged me to do what I had planned to do anyway: quit my job, buy an old camper van and drive around with my girlfriend.

I’d also like to have more time to realize the dream that you have already made come true: to write books (I’m working on it). I also mean to make more music again. And to teach people in workshops the method of mindfulness, which is very valuable for me to gain inner freedom and enjoy life.

I wanted to say thank you for the energy that your book and our meeting gave me back then. I now live with my girlfriend in an apartment in Berlin-Kreuzberg (when we are not travelling with our camper van).

Best regards,
O.

Robert writes:

Ah, that is a good life. Seeing the world with a loved one, writing books and making music. You win!

Sigh. Remember parties though? Under lockdown, they feel like something from another age. Rest assured, we will party again. It will feel uncanny at first and we’ll all shuffle around, unsure if hand-shaking or cheek-kissing were ever even a thing, but we’ll get over it.

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The Conscientious Objector

Something I like about the Tiny House videos on YouTube is the diversity of the stories being told. People who end up building or buying these tiny houses all come to it from different directions.

(In fact, this was something I used to like about New Escapologist as a magazine too. We’d receive writing from stock marketeers and dumpster divers, digital evangelists and technophobe shed dwellers: all arriving at the crossroads of magazine with the idea of escaping The Trap).

With the Tiny House movement, some people arrive through misfortune, others are choosing it proactively. Some have arrived because they’re 25 and don’t want to embark on a life of Wage Slavery, while others have already lost thousands of hours to it and have sold up in favour of cash in the bank and early retirement.

Others (my secret faves) arrive on points of ecological principle. They usually build homes from trash to make a point about waste or build an off-grid home to absent themselves from the ecologically costly business of work and consumerism.

The woman in this video has set up (for barely any money) an ecohouse and completely escaped. It’s extreme but she’s clearly happy and, like the hermits and vagabonds I mentioned in Escape Everything!, she demonstrates to us that something is possible. We don’t have to live lives of quiet despair if we’re determined and resourceful and clever, and when we open our hearts to what others would see as radical but is in fact something closer to the natural state.

I admire her attitude and worldview even more than what she’s achieved materially. She describes the world of work and consumerism not as “the real world” but as “The Madness – because it’s not real,” and she says it with admirable and clearly-tested conviction.

She also describes herself as a “conscientious objector to so many things.” I’ve never quite seen it put that way before, but it’s correct, isn’t it? One can say, “I will not be a part of this,” and then, peacefully, quietly… go.

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