Dropping Out

I am currently reading the book “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember – How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction”. I am almost finished it, and have found it a very interesting read, regarding the history of the earth, and humans as a species interaction with the planet. I think the most interesting thing that I took away from the book was the author’s and scientists view of humans as a species overall.

Currently, there are billions of people living on earth (and maybe a handful living just outside of earth on the space station). Most people go about their lives, with the intention of getting through the day and coming home to take part in some sort of activity before they get up and do similar things the next day. North American society has “evolved” from the time of the European arrival (I’m unsure whether “arrival” is the correct terminology) 500 years ago from a subsistence lifestyle, where much of our time was spent just figuring out how food was going to be obtained for today and tomorrow. Today, I am pondering whether I would like to buy the Playstation 4, XBox One, or hold out and see what the Steam Machine concept looks like.

Family members 2 or 3 generations ago (for me) wouldn’t have any understanding of how life works anymore. Most cities right now would run out of food in 4 days if a catastrophe hit. Most people have become so specialized in their skill set that other than their job, they are unable to really do anything for themselves. These of course are generalizations, but if you were to look at the average urban dweller, they probably would not have survived very well on a homestead.

I think that part of my desire in Early Retirement is to leave this type of lifestyle to a certain extent. I would like to live a life that is hopefully more fulfilling, where I can spend time doing more things for myself, because I have more time. To trade off a lot of the casual convenience offered in most of my life and try something different.

I wouldn’t say that this book was a life-changer, it more reaffirmed and solidified some views, while widening some of my understanding of Earth’s history. I think some of the underlying questions raised (whether stated or implied) in the book were very interesting, such as:

  1. Do we really need more people here? My answer is probably not, which is part of the reason my wife and I (besides our admitted selfishness) decided not to have children.
  2. Are the people here really doing anything? There is so much time being spent in areas which do not necessarily aid humanity in any way, and in fact is creating great harm to the environment and ourselves as a species. While technology is making leaps and bounds ahead in many areas, severe pollution and the resulting changing climate is not really even being accepted as a problem by the majority of people.
  3. How will the world look in a few hundred thousand years? There have been (according to this book) 6 or 7 major extinctions that have taken place over Earth’s lifetime. Are we on a cusp of another one? Or is another one possible in the next few thousand years?

I found the book to be somewhat profound in the information it provided me, and the avenues it made me go down while I was reading it. My plan to “Drop Out” of the way I currently live my life so that I have more time to do the things I would like to do with my time, rather than selling my available hours making spreadsheets and sitting in meetings….This is what I keep in mind when I examine my future financial plans.

Sorry, this post was a bit of a bummer…..I think I’ll switch to a much happier book for my next read.

8 thoughts on “Dropping Out”

  1. Definitely in agreement with you regarding the answers to questions 1 and 2. I am not sure why humans are unable to live in a sustainable fashion like most other species do. I think the biggest problem facing humanity in the long term will be dealing with the sheer size of our own population and associated civilization.

  2. Dave, what you describe is very much what I want to do with my life. Drop out of the city-based corporate chaos and retire to a simpler, more honest life, where I can learn about the basics of subsistence living. I already have 10 acres of raw land with which to work. Because we only can go to our property on some weekends and it is a ferry ride away, we haven’t got as much accomplished as we would like. The very instant I enact my ER plan, I plan to go all in and get this land providing all sorts of things for us…. an endless supply of Douglas fir trees to provide wood for a small cabin, sheds etc (I will likely buy a portable mill to cut my own timber)… there are fruit trees (apple and pear and plum) in dire need of some expert pruning. Wild blackberries galore. Lots of cleared, sunny south facing areas for a massive vegetable garden. Of course, being right on the coast, there is fish, clams, crabs, oysters, right on our doorstep. And such work is wonderful for ones fitness level – gym membership not necessary at all.

    Nothing is as rewarding to us as working our own land and largely providing for ourselves… of course a nice bottle of wine and a dinner out once in a while is still something we will treat ourselves to. And I’m not opposed to some PS4 or Xbox One action after a hard days work outside. I’m still a gamer. 🙂

    Some people probably shudder at the though of a lifestyle like this, but we absolutely love it. We are only in the “rat race” long enough to generate enough funds to set us up into our rural paradise.

    Dave, sounds to me as though you should keep an eye out for some raw land of your own….

  3. An apocalyptic catastrophe is inevitable just depends on the chronological scale in which it will happen. I think it’s probably more likely that you’ll survive the further you live out of the city mainly due to the fact that the available resources would be split between fewer people. It all sounds a bit “Mad Max”.

  4. Amen to this post! I sometimes think, “What the hell am I doing here? Rearranging pixels on a screen, adjusting bits and bytes inside a metal box?” I’d rather be working outdoors somewhere with my hands.

    But I had great hopes for humanity growing up to become a programmer. I imagined all the most intelligent computer guys designing and building warp core engines for our greater use–but no, the best minds are out there creating iPhone apps for a private company to show Lolcats. I imagined free education and information through the Internet, a more much more intelligent and educated population, massive strides for everyone. …But no–they’re watching “Duck Dynasty”! On “Star Trek” they didn’t use the pinnacle of human computer engineering, centuries and decades of research, technology, processors, microchips, utter and complete genius from the greatest minds ever, to design a device for folks to lay around on the couch and watching “Duck Dynasty” on. Cripes… It’s depressing. We’re supposed to be better than this.

  5. Exactly! Great post. I agree with everything Edward said.

    My mother has a large garden and freezes/cans a lot of things for the winter, but I know few other people that do that. The disaster survival is always something in the back of my mind as well as living a more meaningful life.

  6. Your observation regarding how specialized we’ve all become in our skill sets reminded me of a favourite quote of mine:

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    -Robert A. Heinlein

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