Madness Manifested

Archive for September, 2011

It’s About Time

Dad gave me this. Fifth birthday. He said, “Childhood’s over the moment you know you’re gonna die.” ~ Michael Wincott as “Top Dollar” from The Crow

We have been considering and concerning ourselves with awareness. The concept of awareness is simple; we each have a choice. We can either choose to be aware and active in our experiences, or we can be unaware and ruled by happenstance. Much of the oppression we feel is directly proportional to the amount of effort we make to be active in our experiences, to be more aware. Freedom, or being more free relative to as we are now, is the desired end-result of cultivating greater awareness.

Our pursuit of awareness, of choosing to not allow ourselves to be dictated by happenstance, has lead us in numerous directions, all very important and required. We have explored practical matters; the laws and values of society, our roles in the workforce and the economy, how we acquire those things which are substantive needs… We have explored matters of importance to and from the perspectives of the esoteric and exoteric; our relationship with others, our responsibility to ourselves, our society, our species, frivolity… We have pursued issues of a spiritual, or mystical nature; the meanings of words like “awareness” and “freedom”, personal evolution, weighing our relative connectivity and distinctiveness from all that surrounds us…

In this pursuit of awareness, I am wondering if perhaps all these divergent potential directions are rooted in one commonality: Time. I wonder if an exploration of the concept of Time may be an exploration of the foundation of all other efforts.

We are born, and from the day of our birth, the clock is ticking. If an individual lives out to the fullness of their lifespan, they have roughly 70 years of time. All spiritual arguments aside, based on what we can observe it is safe to assume that those years will be all that one ever has. When we consider what the mind of the individual is capable of, what wonders it has the potential to explore and questions it can conceive, 70 years seems like a paltry amount of time, like a cosmic joke on the sentient being. Your biological function; to reproduce and make your genetic mark of future generations requires neither sentience (as made evident by the thousands of people who reproduce in droves) nor the fullness of the potential lifespan. With this reality before us, our sentience seeks a purpose beyond our biological function to our species.

We’re not here because we’re free. We’re here because we’re not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist. It is purpose that created us. Purpose that connects us. Purpose that pulls us. That guides us. That drives us. It is purpose that defines. Purpose that binds us. ~ Hugo Weaving as “Agent Smith” from The Matrix Reloaded

The issue of purpose is a question of whether or not purpose is predetermined by happenstance or “fate”, or if self-determination is possible. Three kinds of people seem to emerge in relation to this question. There are those for whom the question has no meaning. They are completely ruled by happenstance, guided solely by internal impulses and external influences. Awareness as we understand it is not present within them. Others have awareness, but have concluded that the thread of their life has already been measured, that they are fated, to one degree or another, to whatever end or whatever events may come their way.

Then, there are those of us who rebel against that idea, who seek to be free of happenstance and to be self-determined. “Fate” for us may exist, and it is something we can succumb to, but we have concluded that it can be resisted, or that “fate” is for those who lack the will to escape the gravity of happenstance. Awareness is our lever, the manner by which we seek to determine our “fate” for ourselves.

The issue facing us in this pursuit is time. We only have so much time to achieve our ultimate goals. In the short amount of time that we have, we must first develop to a point of physical and mental maturity where we can recognize the discrepancy between our potential awareness and our actual active awareness. The first mark of maturity of awareness is the comprehension of the fact that eventually we will die. This is, in my opinion, the end of our mental childhood and the beginning of our mental adolescence. Awareness that we have only a limited amount of time is often within us only cursory; we know it, but we do not understand it and therefore do not act accordingly. If we were aware of our limited amount of time and understood it, much of the frivolity and wasted effort that dominates our lives would cease.

We would have no time to waste.

Full mental maturity comes when we not only are aware that our time is limited, but also when we embrace that fact and begin living our lives accordingly. Those who believe that their lives are predetermined to a greater degree than what is self-determined embrace their limited amount of time with a marked serenity, a peaceful acceptance that I can only equate to sheep being herded for slaughter. Their arguments for this perspective may be sound, even convincing, but they are arguments that I cannot abide. When I look at history, when I look to the greatest examples of our potential as humans being expressed (those individuals who’s efforts and ideas shaped the course for our species), repeatedly I see examples of self-determination, people who did not go gently into the night but raged against the dwindling light of their short lives.

Time is neither our enemy nor our friend. If we are aware of it, the limited quantity of time we have, and that ultimately we do not know when our limit will be reached, then it is simply a motivator. Time is the reason to take action, to be decisive, to cultivate awareness and to seek self-determination. We cannot be certain of anything other than that our time is limited. Even those who conclude that there is the potential for some other manner of existence beyond this life cannot deny that this life is limited, and that our time in it must be of some importance, if only to ourselves. All time is now. Each moment is a precious stone which we can either use in building our monuments to ourselves in history, or which will be pulverized into dust.

Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time I do what I have to. ~Tommy Flanagan as “Cicero” from Gladiator

Time is the commodity which we all have that we trade for the things we want. Do you want a new car? You have to trade time for the money to pay for it (or time used to steal it, something I would not recommend but include for the sake of being thorough). Want to have sex with someone else? You need to take time to convince a partner (or to engage in an even more criminal activity than car-theft). All pursuits, all acquisitions, all goals require time. Our lives equal a quickly shrinking means of exchange for experiences, pleasures, and material goods. We all may have time, but due to its limited quantity and extreme importance for each of us, it is the most precious commodity we will ever have.

Time, like other commodities, has a variety of different values. We all talk about “quality time” and define that kind of time in different manners based on our drives and interests. I would suggest a scale that includes a transition through five distinct types of time.

Dross Time

Dross is waste metal, impurities purged during the smelting process. Dross Time is time that is wasted. A person may waste time in an ever increasing number of ways, but this particular kind of waste is due to a person not having the means to act on the time that they have. Their inability to use their time is due to pressures which are either internal or external in origin. The internal pressure which creates Dross Time are those feelings of helplessness, when it seems we have nothing but time but no means with which to use it. We may recognize a need, yet we cannot fulfill it. Internal pressures are usually due to a limited perspective, an artificial set of parameters we believe dictate our options. “We have no money, therefore there is nothing we can do” is an example of the kind of thinking which contributes to the internal creation of Dross Time.

The external pressures resulting in Dross Time often are due to having the means to use the time, but being kept in some fashion from doing so. A literal incarceration is the best example that comes to my mind of this kind of Dross Time; you could do anything, but you are limited to your particular cell. This literal interpretation is frequently and figuratively experienced by nearly everyone in our society. The limitations and walls placed around us that guide and define our behaviors encourage a feeling of oppression. We end up in a prison of the mind where apathy and complacency are encouraged. Our time is wasted as we are encourage to conclude that nothing we could do would matter.

The only value of Dross Time is to serve as a reason to cultivate better qualities of time.

Copper Time

Copper Time is better than Dross Time because it is time that is ours to spend, but it has little inherent value because it is spent frivolously with no particular direction. Copper Time is the kind of time we have been convinced in our society is “quality time”, time when we feel we have no demands or obligations, time spent doing nothing of value for ourselves or others. We are a society where mediocrity is the highest pursuit for the majority; where we want nothing more than to sit on our couches eating fast food and watching American Idol, as if time was limitless. The demands upon us, external and internal, and the obligations we have are not suspended, but during this time we struggle to pretend that they are. Still, we are encouraged by social conventions to resist having a direction or use for our time. The “norm” is to spend our time pursuing meaningless frivolities. Copper Time is unfortunately often “purchased” with a higher-quality time, Iron Time. The majority of us tend to trade that which has value for something that has less or no value at all.

Iron Time

Iron Time is time spent acquiring the things we need. “Need” here is being used in the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need” sense of foundational needs: sustenance, shelter, and so on. The way we acquire these things that we need are either external, by performing a function for another, or internal, by producing something of ourselves that is of value to others. Without regard to other nuances in method, the internal Iron Time is of a better grade than the external. Those who produce Iron Time through service to others tend to take on the mentality of slaves, “buying” with their Iron Time the Copper Time with which they temporarily and artificially part from their masters and try to enjoy a moments respite as “free men”. Those who produce their Iron Time internally tend to invest it in time that is of a higher quality, seeking to improve themselves and reduce their reliance on Iron Time to secure their needs.

Silver Time

Silver Time is a grade of time spent in intentional action, not simply sustaining the self, but improving the self in order to reduce the amount of time required acquiring those things which sustain us. Silver Time is “bought” with Iron Time, time spent laboring, either for the self or for others. Silver Time is time spent increasing our skills, developing better processes, or shifting from Iron Time as labor for another to Iron Time producing things valued by others from our own resources. The more Silver Time we tend to produce, the less Iron Time is necessary. Silver Time is the beginning of self-determination.

Gold Time

Gold Time is time spent improving ourselves, like Silver Time, and is often purchased with Silver Time. The difference is that Gold Time is completely self-determined and is time spent improving ourselves as a being, not improving our functions as a gatherer of sustenance. Gold Time is the time invested in developing what Gurdjieff refers to as “the soul”, or what I would suggest is the monument we will leave in history in the minds of others about our deeds and our life. Both are concepts which carry the idea of self forward in time beyond our lifespans. Gold Time has aspects of all the other times except dross. Like Copper, it is time spent without external demands; like Iron it involves labor; like Silver, the time is spent improving ourselves. The results of Gold Time have the potential to evolve us and also evolve our species based upon the innovations we develop and our example. Whereas Silver Time improves that which exists already, Gold Time develops innovations and new functions of the self.

Every man dies, not every man really lives. ~ Mel Gibson as “William Wallace” from Braveheart

Time, from this perspective, is something which can be cultivated and bartered, not just for those things we need, but to actually improve ourselves and the quality of time we have. Being aware of our time and how we are investing it, each moment, we begin to “buy” our freedom and become more self-determined. To do so requires a commitment to ourselves to struggle to be more aware. Awareness of time can lead to few other conclusions than that its nature is precious, and that it should not be squandered lightly.

Life is for the living. Responsibility to the responsible. These are two concepts drawn from Satanism which address awareness and, in particular, the use of time. Life is for living, for the experience, because it is brutally short. Its brevity is what should inspire each of us to live it heroically and defiantly, seeking to become immortal through our actions despite the mortality inherent in our existence. Freedom is a life lived without fear of death, but with full awareness of its inevitability. Responsibility for our lives is ours to take or to ignore. We suffer either at our own peril. With freedom comes risks. Do we face life by taking command of our time and living it intentionally, or do we succumb to happenstance and squander the moments we have?

Choice. The problem is choice. ~ Keanu Reeves as “Neo” from The Matrix Reloaded

The Choice of Awareness

The following is borrowed from Beginning to Understand, a blog by Apsara Kamalli.

Our lives are constantly in motion. This energy creates the constant changes that make up our existence. Every day, I hear questions thrown out at random like “Why is this happening to me,” and “What did I do to deserve this?” As much as some people may not want to take responsibility for their actions, the answer to both questions is “Because of the choices you’ve made.” While the questions are thrown out at random, the constant energy creating the results we deal with is not random. It is not haphazard or cast down upon you. You have created it, and it is a product of your creation.

Every choice made in every given moment creates the reality around you.

Our lives are constantly in motion. In the duration of a split nanosecond, our lives can change immensely. The energy of constant change moves more rapidly than we can consciously understand. Most of the choices we make on a daily basis are done so in a state of reaction, instantaneous and without much thought. Each of these quick, small responses carries the capability of suddenly impacting the world around us. Sometimes these transitions are invisible to the untrained eye. Sometimes, these transitions impact not only you, but all within your sphere of influence. Either way, at your core, at your soul, and with awareness, you can feel your vibration transforming. Now is the time to take control over this possibility. Now is the time to recognize the power of the vibrational shift and play a deliberate role in directing the energetic motion of our daily lives.

Every choice, every action, every formulation, or lack thereof, of intention will shift your vibrational existence.

Our lives are constantly in motion. Every moment in time is filled with infinite opportunities to manifest your will, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. Every moment comes with the choice of awareness. Choosing to not be aware of this key element is choosing to feel lost, out of control, helpless, or maybe even falsely that you are guided by a higher being. Your awareness of the consequences of your thoughts and actions provide you with the power to define your liberation. The choices you make represent your own personal power. How often you choose to be aware of your personal power will determine the amount of instances you find yourself asking, “Why is this happening to me?”

A Sly Man’s Exit Strategy: Stage One of Five

G.I. Gurdjieff used a number of profound analogies when describing both the common experience of man and a man’s potential, often drawn from Sufism and Taoism he learned during his travels. His focus was on personal evolution; what a person could do to potentially improve his living experience and be relatively more “free” (a concept that he also points out is not really understood and must be explored). One of the analogies he used compared the common experience of most people to being in a prison. The prison limits our possibilities and defines our behaviors. Though it is a system that protects us and shelters us, it does so through limitations and restrictions at the cost of our individuality, and in my opinion our very humanity. The system is useful until its restrictions on behavior and our modes of thought become so great that self-determination is lost in exchange for security. This prison is the system which I often refer to in other forums and struggle against. It is the system of laws, regulations, traditions, values, and social pressures that artificially define our lives.

Like a prison, if you make an overt or direct effort to escape, this system will respond quickly, decisively, and often painfully to put you back in your pre-defined place. We are each a product of that prison/system, and as such our behaviors in a normal state are pre-defined. We are taught what is expected of us, to value “acceptance” and “normality”. Even our methods of rebellion and resistance are predictable, and manageable when based upon that system. If we realize we are in a prison, and we see an “open door”, the system recognizes and even expects that we will try to use that door. This system will have either safeguards in place to keep us from using the “door” or will have already defined what is beyond that “door”, leaving it open for a certain percentage of the population to use for the benefit of the system. Direct effort against the prison, direct opposition, has the greatest amount of risk with potentially the lowest likelihood of success, because it is what is expected and what the system has been most strongly designed to prevent.

Another analogy used by Gurdjieff is the Sly Man. The Sly Man analogy refers to the man who studies the three primary philosophical/metaphysical processes; that of the intellectual (the guru), that of the physical (the fakir), and that of the emotional (the monk), and uses only what is necessary from each of those processes to achieve his goal. It is considered “sly” because while the process may still take a great deal of time, it combines the essential an effective parts of the other three systems while ignoring the unessential, making the process potentially more effective. A Sly Man develops the talent to see what is necessary and to either de-prioritize or disregard that which is unnecessary.

This analogy of a person who studies a system to find what is essential to achieving his goals, being the Sly Man, is one that I would extend to any system, including our “prison”. The Sly Man recognizes that rushing the walls will more often fail and potentially result in being in a worse predicament than we find ourselves already in. This is a concept expressed in Discordianism; with Order and Chaos being opposing forces, when one force acts against the other, the other force responds with an opposite reaction at least equal to, and often greater than, the original action (causing an escalation of force against force). Understanding this, the Sly Man seeks a way to use the system against itself in order to “slip” free of it, or to oppose the system in a manner that directs the response of the system in a manner beneficial to the Sly Man. Going back to our prison analogy, this would mean knowing the routines of the guards, which work details offer the most opportunity for escape, where the tools are kept and when they would be missed, where the walls are weakest, etc. To escape the system, one must have a certain level of expertise on using that system. This requires a great deal of study.

Just because happenstance resulted in our being born into this system does not mean that as adults we have to accept it. I believe that an indication of maturity as a human being is recognition of this fact and making the move toward self-determination vs. accepting pre-determination.

Gurdjieff’s prison analogy goes further, stating that the likelihood of escape increases when you work with co-conspirators, people working toward the same end and from often different directions. However, this coordination of effort cannot and will not include everyone in the prison… the mass exodus of everyone from the system would be the kind of overt action that results in a drastic response by the system. No, in order to escape, you have to be aware that you are not free, you have to prefer the risk of existing without the prison/system compared to the security afforded by it, you have to be willing to make the effort to escape (even if on your own), and you have to be willing to take the time required to make your escape possible.

Those who do not meet those requirements will only inhibit your own efforts. Most people are content with their positions, or if they are discontent lack the ambition to take action. Indeed, many people are so engaged on that system, so dependent upon it, that they will act on the system’s behalf to erode or oppose your efforts. The system is primarily a prison for the mind, using a person identity to re-enforce its mental bars. When you or I challenge that system, we are challenging the “sense of self” that many have come to depend upon. Those who choose to remain asleep, or remain oblivious to what is happening around them, will pursue and meet their end. There is nothing that can be done for them until they begin to do for themselves.

I half-heartedly proposed the idea of abandoning the system as a form of mass protest in response to a video calling for coordinated effort with no real direction (suggesting as an alternative to demonstrating our numbers and asking for recognition in the system it would be better to abandon that system). One comment I received latched onto this idea of “making a break for it”, but the person who made the comment also indicated that they would join me when I made the push. It is my feeling that none of us can afford to wait on another to lead the charge. Rather, if we have any hope of “escape”, we must already be engaged in our own efforts. My proposal in my video-response suggested a coordination date of 12/21/2012 because this was the date selected for mass protest by the person I was responding to. It is my feeling that you should not wait on a special day to begin making your effort to escape. If you haven’t started already, you should start now. I know this sounds alarmist, but by the time it becomes obvious that you should do something, it will probably be to late.

I am implementing my own Exit Strategy. This post is a description of the first stage of my strategy, already being implemented. This is not a call-to-action. This is not a direction of leadership. If you need either of those things to act, then there is little I think that can be done for you (or, rather, everything will need to be done for you by someone else which is anathema to this ideology). My Exit Strategy involves a carefully orchestrated disengagement from the system, slowly but methodically cutting the ties that bind. This is what I am doing because I have reached the intellectual conclusion and the intuitive feeling that this is the correct direction for me. If you implement your own Exit Strategy, it will not doubt be different than mine.

A major focus in this first stage deals with economics and finances. The system in my culture expresses itself as a quasi-capitalist manifestation, encouraging those within it to chase after the dollar and material possessions for a sense of security and identity. I feel that this energy is something I need to re-direct based on values that I define, seeking not recognition for what I have but instead greater freedom for the need for finances in the traditional manner. The goal here is not wealth in the traditional sense, as wealth by the terms of the system simply means a successful existence within a gilded-cage. Instead, I mean wealth as defined by a fulfilling and pleasurable life of personal growth and satisfaction. Messiah Bey, a fellow writer and philosopher, suggests a goal of true financial independence. Not becoming successfully enslaved by the need for money, but rather freedom from that need through self-sufficiency.

My first step is to begin to limit the impact of the financial demands of that system upon my own resources. Our system requires the fulfillment of our minimum needs within a particular set of parameters in order to be considered acceptable. For example, shelter is a “real” need. The system defines acceptable shelter as housing meeting certain structural codes. I have children, and I want my choices to impact my children as little as possible while also providing them a positive example and keeping the State from taking my children from me. To that end, my shelter is a minimal as possible while meeting those demands. The maintenance of that home; electrical use, water, garbage disposal, all involve steps to minimize the impact on my resources. This has required a shift in my values from convenience and the sense of affluence to independence and efficiency. Other system-required expenditures; food, gas, insurance, etc, are all reduced or (if practical) eliminated.

I pay as little as possible to keep the state out of my affairs by maintaining the minimal standards required. I render unto Caesar only what is Caesar’s, and nothing more.

I am incrementally divesting myself of the majority of my material possessions. The system encourages us to amass “stuff”, baubles and brick-a-brack as symbols to represent some artificial identity. “The things you own end up owning you” (Tyler Durden). I am reducing the possessions I have down to the essentials I need to tattoo, create art, and care for my family. I am using auction sites like eBay to sell these items and collectibles to the highest bidder, often getting a profit on my original investment. Liquidating these things used to prop-up my system-supported sense of self increases the amount of resources I have to direct as a lever to further disengage myself from the system. I am shedding the things I have been taught should be important to me to define my own sense of importance.

My expenditures are either for things I need, for things to act as a buffer between myself and dependence on the system, and for experiences. My needs, as defined above, are tattooing, creating art, and caring for my family (both essentials like food and clothing and non-essentials). When fulfilling those needs, I ignore the systems pressure to expend my resources on brand names, the latest versions, or new items whenever possible. I shop for used or discounted items. I also recycle (in the literal sense) as much of the materials I do use as I can.

All of this results in increased financial clout, whether generating an income, reducing my expenditures, or simply not spending money when I and where I would have in the past. The intent, again, is not to increase my system-defined “wealth”, but rather to reduce my dependence on system-based finances altogether. These changes in my habits and values creates a buffer between myself and the financial pressures of the system; either padding my resources with unspent funds or reducing the impact on my lifestyle due to the failure of that system to continue to provide for my “needs”. The resources previously used to feed the system and its hold on me through my personal identity are re-directed as a lever to create separation between the system and myself.

What expenditures I do make are less for things and more for experiences. Life is for living, and is woefully short. I prefer to indulge in it, to do and see things that normally would not be afforded to me. I make as much use of the system’s means of expediting these expenditures, or I seek out experiences that are outside that systems purview. The point is to live more freely and fully. I seek those experiences that satisfy this desire, and support those endeavors that remind me that I am a free, self-determining being. I strive to give my children less things, and more memories.

I am also engaged in a variety of income streams; tattooing, selling my artwork and merchandise, writing and selling books, etc. While this may seem opposed to the idea of separation from the system (as I am engaging the established economic system), I am establishing means of acquiring resources, with the common transitional medium being the near-valueless green-back. I am converting things that I can do that others cannot do into things I need and cannot produce myself. If I were working for another, I would begin thinking about ways to augment my income through my own efforts while diverting as much of those slave-wages toward the acquisition of things I need (vs. things I want). I would try to shift my perspective from working for another to simply survive toward working for myself with the intent of being free of the need of as salary.

In seeking additional income streams, I would recommend considering all alternatives, even those that include some social stigmas. In the pursuit of our goals, we cannot cater to the value-structures that the system has established within us. I had a friend, John, who was at one time destitute. He had lost his job, had no savings, and possessed nothing of value. He was struggling to find work, and at the time did not qualify for unemployment. While he searched for work, he found other ways to support himself. He sold blood-plasma at a local plasma center. He volunteered for paid medical-studies, He modeled for art classes at the local college (unfortunately, in some of the classes I was taking). He collected and recycled aluminum cans. Through these many efforts, he was able to sustain himself. He wasn’t proud of these activities, but that kind of pride is a value engendered by the system.

If our focus is survival and freedom, our thinking must be “by any means necessary”.

The next aspect of my Exit Strategy involves developing additional skill-sets that could prove advantageous should I find myself in a situation where the system is not available to be relied upon. Primary in my mind are skills dealing with the environment and survival; how to hunt and gather food, what in the wild is edible, how to create shelters and fortifications, etc. I also am learning or refreshing my knowledge in skill-sets that were common to my grandfathers and great-grandfathers; engine repair, farming, brewing beer, making butter, making bread, sewing, carpentry, basic plumbing, basic electrical work, etc.

These skill-sets not only help prepare me for a system-less existence, but also can be applied now to make myself less dependent on the system. The less reliant I am on the system for my needs, the less, control the system has over me and the more resources I have to allocate as I see fit rather than based on system-initiated pressures. This means spending time studying, testing, and implementing many of the things I am learning. This also means spending less time engaged in the frivolity that the system offers as “entertainment” to placate the masses. Boredom is a tool used by the system to drive us toward the meaningless distractions it offers as a means of validation. I don’t want to simply have something to do. I want to do something.

Key among those skill sets is self-defense. This means a little more than practicing a martial art… as a former soldier, in my opinion it means cultivating a martial attitude. I am learning and practicing a martial art; this has a two-fold benefit. Obviously, this aids in my self-defense, making more capable of preventing harm to myself and my family. This also improves my over-all health and fitness, making me less prone to injury and disease and less likely to need the system’s health care.

I am learning and practicing unconventional defense strategies. I am re-learning to set traps, create devices for my defense, use concealment and camouflage, and other techniques taught to me while in the military. These strategies and techniques apply to both the real world and methods that apply to the digital realm.

I am also acquiring, learning to use, and learning to maintain, a variety of weapons. Most of these weapons are duel-purpose; self-defense and for hunting. This allows me to develop a sufficient stock for my needs while avoiding having to register those weapons with the system.

Practice is key in all of these processes. It is not enough to simply know or have on hand these self-defense elements. They have to be ready to use.

One of my concerns is greater restrictions implemented by the system due either to civil unrest (an economic collapse that places the 51% of the US population which is dependent upon the system directly without the social welfare to pacify them) or a natural disaster (with the potential effects of a major solar-storm on our electronic and digital systems resulting in civil unrest). My fears are of my neighbors when the chains of civility are no longer present and the system when they step in to establish order. A more likely scenario is the slow, inevitable collapse of Western Civilization, with ever greater limits on individual liberty. While much more insidious, this third scenario at least offers some time to prepare.

To that end, I am working to prepare for what could be a very long “camping-trip”. I am in the market for a late-model conversion van, something along the lines of a 1970’s VW autobus-camper. I am investing on hunting and fishing gear, camping equipment, and food for long-term storage. I am studying how to store water and food, and what is edible right outside my door. I am reviewing SAS Survival Guides. I am getting into the habit of practicing what I am learning, and looking forward to frequently “getting away from it all” with the family. We are building up a sizable store of food and water for long-term storage.

I am re-evaluating my values. I have mentioned a couple of examples above; becoming less invested in material possessions, becoming more self-sufficient, creating and expanding a buffer between myself and the system, etc. I am looking at all of my value-structures, determining which of these values are for my benefit, and which support my dependence on the system. Something as basic as the food I eat is defined by my society and culture; defining what is an acceptable option and what is not. These limitations shackle us to the system’s authorized sources for the food-items that are considered acceptable. Many of our values, such as the concepts of family and community, have either been perverted to make us feel more isolated or to make us feel that we have responsibilities that we did not choose to have. A re-evaluation of these particular value structures is a key component to the second stage of my strategy. For this stage, my focus is primarily on how I perceive these values and recognizing how they may be artificially inducing some of my behaviors and choices.

Finally, I am engaging in political discourse, but in a manner that requires minimal participation in the systems established channels for that discourse. What I am seeing is movement toward failure in our system. Even though this movement is in a negative direction, it is momentum that can be re-directed and used. My political efforts serve three purposes, often in combination. They strive to change our social values into a form more aligned with my own interests. For me, this means increased personal liberties and responsibilities; legalize marijuana, legalizing prostitution, and stricter controls on welfare allotment are my top three points of focus. Whether I succeed or fail with these aims, the discussion generates awareness of the skewed values and oppressive nature of the system.

That is the second purpose, to call attention to the system’s corruption and to get people to discuss and implement alternatives. Self-responsibility involves the recognition that even the most thorough preparations and efforts by an individual will not withstand a numerically superior force and is always threatened by failure. By calling attention to the system’s eminent collapse and the need to make changes now, I hope to increase the pool of people to engage with in trade and mutual support.

The final purpose is the erosion of the system. By implementing value-shifts, encouraging non-participation, and shedding light on system corruption, the hold that the system has upon us is weakened, and may be eventually broken. The primary means for this is discourse, sharing information, discussing what I am doing, and learning from others as they implement their own exit strategies.

To summarize:

-I recognize that the system is bound to fail, either due to a sudden and adverse internal shift or outside force, or due to its own bloated growth and corruption.

-I recognize that I have a choice; either to be invested and beholden to that system or to disengage from it.

-I recognize that the process must be through subtle but consistent and willful effort.

-I am disengaging myself of economic entanglements; retaining and stock-piling my resources, divesting myself of frivolous material possessions, and seeking means for creating my own resource streams instead of indulging in servitude.

-I am developing additional skill sets which include practical knowledge of basic mechanical systems, survival skills, and self-defense strategies.

-I am preparing for an emergency situation and long-term self-sufficiency.

-I am re-evaluating my value-structure, seeking greater self-determination.

-I am engaged in political discourse and the exchange of ideas with individuals who share a common interest.

I discussed recently with a friend who questioned whether all this preparation is rational. Her argument hinged on the idea that the system collapse I think is coming may not come, and that all the energy and effort I am investing may be wasted. One of the things I am doing is storing water. While my preparations are with the idea that the worst is going to happen, possibly sooner than I would like, these preparations also make me better prepared for short-term issues. Recently, there was a water-main break in my neighborhood, and we spent the bulk of the day without running water from our taps. Having the water in storage meant that I would still be able to flush my toilets, boil water for food, clean myself and even my dishes, etc. Texas, the state I reside in, is in the grip of a major drought, one that may last for years. Each summer, cities in my area have established ever stricter water conservation ordinances. Whether it is a minor inconvenience or a major system failure, I would prefer to be prepared.

These are my “Stage One” efforts. I am interesting in learning from others about their own practices and techniques… what they see happening and the steps they are taking to deal with it. I would like to discuss with others their own plans. I have been intentionally vague on many points simply due to a sense of self-preservation and this being a public forum. Further disucussion will illicit more concrete ideas. This discussion will, I hope, be mutually beneficial, and lay the groundwork for the next stage of my Exit Strategy.