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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Touring the West

We're in Seattle now, staying at the house of Mark's friends, Jim and Laura.  Our book tour is almost done (at least for now?).  We plan to go to Olympia, Washington today, then to Bellingham on Friday.  Then it looks like I'm riding back to Missoula, Montana with Mark, hitching to Moab, Utah, and probably snagging a ride with a friend to Vermont, to see another old friend.

Before I go on, please, before making general comments or questions about my life, please read the FAQ on Living Without Money.  Then, if your question or comment is not addressed, I'll try to answer it.  I hope to add more FAQs when there's opportunity.

A big one that I haven't addressed yet in the FAQ is about publicity and the book:

Are you making profit from this book, and a media whore promoting yourself?

Yes I do have an ego, and I feel sure I'll be okay if I acknowledge and admit it, and then I won't become a slave to it.  And I am human, I do have a mouth and like to speak.  Speaking draws attention to ourselves, even as crying did when we came out of the womb.  I don't believe it's right to suppress our nature of speaking, to hide our lamp under a bushel.  Lights shine and flowers bloom for a reason, and why be a liar by pretending I don't enjoy it?  I enjoy quiet anonymity also, for which people condemned me equally in the past, too!  And we all recede into quiet anonymity in the end - every one of us.

That said, the book is not and never was my idea, and I am making zero profit from it.  In 2009, after an article was written about me by Chris Ketchum in Details Magazine (also not something I sought out or asked for), Penguin/Riverhead books initially asked me if I wanted to write a book back in 2009, and I told them I'd only do it if it could be totally given away for free and I, of course, make no profit.  They then asked Mark Sundeen to write it, and I agreed to it after he wrote to me and told me his vision of what the book would be.  Mark was already going on this book tour and invited me along in his car.  We have been staying at friends' houses and camping out.  I have not once stayed in a hotel.  Mark is making money from the book, because he works in the money system and has to make his very, very modest living as a writer.  Contrary to public opinion, he is not rolling in the dough and makes way less money than most average Americans I know.

Also, Penguin/Riverhead has honored my request and given hundreds of books away for free at many events, as well as to libraries all over. 

What I find comical about the thousands of negative comments is I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  Before, when people decided I spent most my days hiding out in a cave, there were thousands of comments condemning me for being a recluse, not "contributing."  Now that I'm more in the spotlight, thousands say I'm both a mooch living off society as well as a media whore trying to get attention and profit, and that if I were truly living moneyless I'd be hiding out in the wilderness away from society!

A seed falls to the ground and dies, hiding in the soil.  It grows up into a plant that flowers in fluorescent color, attracting bees and hummingbirds and humans.  Condemn it for hiding.  Then condemn it for blooming.  Condemn it for wilting.  Then it might produce fruit.  What condemnation then?  Are we resentful because the plant knows only to follow its own nature, both hiding and blooming in glory and bearing more seeds?  I don't know how any of it works, it just does, and it's beautiful and I'll enjoy it, whether or not people like to crush plants under their feet.

What if we spoke as fact only what we know, and not what we assume, in every part of life?  How lovely life would be if everybody were innocent until proven guilty, huh?

What if we saved our anger and venom for actions that are actually bringing harm to the world? 

But I have to admit I get a kick out of the negative shit.  It's comical and entertaining, even wiping away my doubt.  Even Taiwanese capitalists have jumped on the bandwagon.  Might as well enjoy it:



Positive Response

If most anonymous Internet comments have been negative, most human-to-human response Mark and I have gotten have been positive.  And the negative criticisms to our face have been constructive and helpful.  People who have the guts to give face-to-face criticism have an integrity and courage that I'm grateful for. 

Yeah, we've been astonished at the turn-out and the openness and receptiveness of people at all these book events and media interviews.  There have been lots of hugs and even tears from "strangers."  The love I've felt has been indescribably heart-warming.  Every one of them through-out the west have been standing room only, except in Eugene and Seattle.  Seattle, in fact, had the smallest turn-out of all, which surprised us.

The Second Leg of Our Tour

Our event in Missoula was splendid, and I feel like Missoula has become another home.  We had a Quit Money Day panel discussion at the Missoula Public Library with Kate Keller (Missoula Community Food Co-op), Pastor Christian Cryder (Imagine Missoula), Bob Giardano (Free Cycles), Josh Slotnick (Garden City Harves), Mark, and me.  What was beautiful about this was that this wasn't about a single dude living in a cave, but about getting heads of experience together to discuss ways of bringing out cooperation and gift economy into community!  And I got to hang out a bit with all four of these Missoula folks in the following weeks that I stayed in Missoula, & be a little part of some of their projects.  Kate & I became close friends, I got to attend the All Souls Church that Christian pastors, help out a little with one of Bob's Free Cycles events, and play in the dirt at Josh's farm, as well as strike up a friendship with the librarian, Molly, and the dude working in the library coffee shop, Evan (who also happened to work at Free Cycles).  And Evan's friend, Drew, had a wonderful 2 hour discussion with me on his morning radio show on KBGA.  I even ran into a couple old friends from Moab passing through, Val (scout for the Rainbow Gathering), and Dan (son of my good friend Roberta)! 

After Missoula, we had events in Boise & Ketchum, Idaho.  Then we went to Santa Cruz, a farm in Pescadero, San Francisco, Arcata, up to Ashland, Eugene, and Portland, Oregon, then to here.

In San Francisco we stayed a few days with Mark's childhood friend, Tim Bluhm, and Tim's spouse Nicki.  Little did I know this was the Nicki with the band Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, and Tim plays with her as well as in his own band, The Mother Hips

In San Francisco I was also was overjoyed to see my twin cousins, Sue and Annie (and her boyfriend Mark), as well as my old friends Kristen, Felix, and their Mother, Louise.  In Arcata I didn't expect to see anybody I knew, but an old friend named Mystery, who lived in Moab years ago, showed up!

After Arcata, we went to Ashland, Oregon and stayed at the house of my friends, Frank and Sara and kids, joined by my old friend Tim Wojtusik and his daughter, Logan (Tim is one of the two Tims who provided years of my letters for Mark's book).  After Ashland we went to Eugene, where I was overjoyed to see my old friend Jennifer.

Then it was Portland, which turned out another grand event.  I stayed with my old friends Satya and Sara at the house of Alex (who so generously has opened up his house for wandering penniless folks, including me, for years, and happens to be the son of Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi).  Sara and Satya cooked up a big feast for Food Not Bombs friends beforehand.  Then we all made a street procession to Powell's bookstore for the book reading.  Food Not Bombs folks even served free food on the sidewalk after the event.  The love I felt was astounding.  It was grand seeing and hanging out with so many other old and new friends, but I'm out of time and space to mention them.


We talked to an Everett Community College class, taught by Mark's friend Cobi, the day before yesterday.  They had already read and wrote analysis of the book, and taking their questions and comments was fun but also strange.  It feels quite bizarre having whole classes study things I used to only tell my closest friends. 

Though our Seattle event was the smallest of all, my inspiring friend Irv Thomas showed up, as well as a friend from my days in Ecuador I haven't seen for 25 years, Melissa!  It's amazing seeing friends from my distant past coming out of the woodwork!

Now we'll see what's next.  I'm excited and sometimes a little nervous about the wonders that keep unraveling.  Part of me has visions of moneyless community unfolding (and I still don't know how, but with so many heads and hearts together, we'll see).  But the other part of me warns me not to have any expectations.  Maybe my life will go back to quiet obscurity, or maybe not.  It's really out of my hands.  What is natural will unfold naturally, without our manipulation, if we're open to it.  So Be It.  Nature is absolutely splendid, isn't it?

How is all this publicity affecting me?

I still say the same as in my last blog post, Fickle Fun.









56 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm your sis. HAHAHA! What in the world with the video?!

    Well, this IS an interesting turn of events, though I have to say I did expect it. How far it will go though I wait with bated breath to see.

    As far as your critics? Well, as you know, I've been one of them, though I like the foundational principle so much I have done some promotion of you myself. Otherwise, folks have never been fond of those that veer off the beaten path, no matter what they believe.

    Whatever you are or do, I will always love you, that I know for sure. <3

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  2. You're on the internet, so expect negative comments. They can get you down though. Glad the book tour went well. Cheers.

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  3. Suelo, I think you are so amazingly beautiful. When i first read the article about you in a composting shitter in North Carolina I never dreamed I'd meet you in the woods of Washington last July. I think about you often, and about the way I use money. I didn't use it for many months after meeting you. But now i'm in a job with a salary for the summer. But it has completely changed the way i feel about money, i just use it like a monopoly game. It helps i have no bills. Maybe i'll run into you in the north east, i'll be here all summer. thanks for the ego comment, i need to remind myself more often of how prevalent mine is. much respect. - leaf

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  4. Your Moab family is waiting to hug you.

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  5. I have read your book since your last post and I am turning much of it over in my thinking. It may be that your ideas slowly take root and spread. Like you, I once did a bit of an author tour...and while I liked the attention, I was also eager to get back to my usual life.

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  6. I am a teacher, a mother of five, and a moderate conservative, and a Christian; and I LOVED your book. I think anyone who constructively challenges the status quo should be applauded. You helped renew parts of my faith I didn't know were stagnant, and anyone who thinks you're mooching or freeloading should watch that little film mentioned in your book, "The Story of Stuff." Your friend Mark did an excellent job telling your story. I've encouraged both my children and my students to read your book to inspire the simple idea that you can indeed take the road less traveled, and your life will probably be all the richer for it. God Bless. :)

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  7. Good luck forever. I would like to read your book but I don´t know if I can to get it here, in Austin, TX. And, Mr. Suelo, don´t forget that "en la vida no hay azúcar sin sal".

    The best

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    1. You can order the book from amazon.com, thats what i did :)

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    2. Free is best, but if you use money, use it ethically. If it's not in the Austin library, and you want to buy, buy locally! If your local independent bookstore doesn't have it, have 'em order it rather than buy through Amazon! It might then be a bit more expensive money-wise, but way less expensive human-wise.

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    3. Thanks a lot. I will try to get it by a way or another way.

      The best

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  8. I like how the noodle eatin', gameboy gooks use stereotypes that reflect their Hello Kitty depth of reasoning. I have never thought of using stereotypes. But that's just me.

    I never thought of using classic Americana stereotypes and merge them with super icon Suelo.

    Danielo, a wild west gun totin' spaghetti western hat wearin' americano / a modern bling gangsta cavin' with his homeys / a Marvel comic Captain Americano. To use a classic line from Outlaw Josey Wales, "Dyin' aint much of a livin' boy."

    Or in gook's case.
    "Buyin' aint much of a livin' girls."

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  9. "noodle eatin', gameboy gooks"
    "their Hello Kitty depth of reasoning."

    "I have never thought of using stereotypes."

    :-/

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  10. Congratulations on the book tour! My mother-in-law and father-in-law went to the Powell's event and had a great time and were inspired. If you get out to Joshua Tree (the Mother Hips and Nicki Bluhm perform at the local honky tonk pretty often) you've got a guest room at my house. As for Internet comments, here's a positive one. It's an ideal time for getting people talking about getting away from money obsession.

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  11. Sounds like your book tour is overall successful which is great news. I wish you could make it down to St. George, UT...maybe one day. I love that you are getting the attention that you are. There are people out there that are really bothered by the fact that they live in society where money is so vital and that everything revolves around it. People now can know that there is an alternative and that, though they may not go moneyless, they can simplify and focus on the more important parts of life that are truly beautiful and not just the job and the bills and feel good about it. I know that is what your message has done for me. I use money...I get it, but I know there are way more important things to life. Since finding this blog years ago and catching your vision in the small way that I have, my relationships are more pure, my time is more valuable, and my mind is more free because money is just a thing that comes and goes, but means very little in the grand schemata. For that assistance in becoming free from mental and monetary slavery I thank you. Keep up the good things that you are doing and disregard much of the naysayers...I tell you that if they were honest with themselves they would get it.

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  12. I would like to say Thank You. The essay on your webpage:"East embraces West, Non-Dualism embraces Dualism". My eyes were opened to dualism and your essay opened my eyes even more to the beauty of life all around us.
    I applaud you for taking what you were given and multiplying it many times over.

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    1. I'd like to read that post, "East embraces West, Non-Dualism embraces Dualism"- but I'm having a hard time finding it. Do you have the URL, or maybe remember which month it appeared? Thanks!

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    2. It's on the website Living Without Money, not this blog:

      http://sites.google.com/site/livingwithoutmoney/east-embraces-westnon-dualism-embraces-dualism

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  13. Just a couple of things from your book (which our friend Bill B. lent me.)

    I don't like that phrase - "It's better to give than receive." Two things - If no one receives, how can anyone give anything - and the second, how about "it is better to receive than to take."

    Also, if someone asks you if you're hungry, just say yes. No need to lie. :-)

    Charlie (formerly from Moab.)

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  14. "What I find comical about the thousands of negative comments is I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't."

    Nothing changes, man. The first thing that came to mind was the familiar gospel excerpt. To quote the old tymie KJV:

    And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children.

    Critics/haters are the same today as they were 2000 years ago.

    That Taiwanese video (mis)representation was pretty crazy, though. Don't know why they made you out to be some kind of violent psychopath, but I assume the only reason why they're trying to paint you as a hypocrite has to do with how money mad they all are now with their booming economy. Anybody who doesn't buy into the capitalism uber alles philosophy has to be denigrated and marginalized just like in the media in this country on this side of the world.

    Loved the book. Wish you would have made it out to Wisconsin on the tour, but that's ok. Take care and put the collective doubters out of your mind. They're not worth listening to.

    ~ Ancient Weaver

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    1. "Wisdom is justified of all Her Children." There's the Divine Mother peaking out from Her veil of secrecy ;-)

      The Taiwanese video is goofy enough it's actually a parody of the naysayers, & I can't help but feel its makers are secretly helping me.

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  15. Hi Suelo,

    Did the video crack you up like it did me? Were you laughing out loud or did you go out, kill a rabbit then throw it the TV? I could see you teaming up with John Francis-The Planet Walker, Peace Pilgrim and Robin Hood and becoming the new Avengers or something in a feature length cartoon.

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  16. Hey Suelo, thanks for this blog, its been keeping me up late some nights reading it. I am getting out of the military in a month and I will be moving away from where I grew up and starting over in Philly. I am set on learning how to live free of money and thanks for all the questions you answer from everyone, I have learned a great deal. I see no use for money and I am much happier without it. I would love to hang out with you some day and have a chat. Keep doing what you are doing and your book is awesome, its one book that will be with me most of my life

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  17. You are a luminous being, Suelo.
    Shine on!!!!!

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  18. I don't know where to write a message to you so I write it here:

    Considering food, have you heard of breatharianism? I think you don't have to eat at all for your survival. It's really something. Recently I've watched a dabate with a French guy who hasn't eaten anything for 9 years. You have a perfect conditions to practice this. I also want to try it but... well... I'm still a capitalist slave... not forever though :)

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    1. Breatharianism is a joke. Literally.

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    2. True, you can live without food, but perhaps not without water.

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  19. Daniel.....Just when I thought I felt alone on this issue I come across this web site! Where are you man? I'd love to come share my skills and knowledge in every way possible! I'd much like to hike the Rockies from Monatana to Arizona with just a pack on my back striclty for the adventurous challenge! I was born wealthy but hate money....go figure eh! I'm a BIG fan of Dick Proenneke. His documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" has captured my dream and not living this way is just boring...society provides little to no adventure and being wild at heart makes it even harder. jsl122981@yahoo.com hit me up =)

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    1. I'm traveling, not back in Moab for a while.

      Still brainstorming over possibilities with folks who want to join me. Since moneyless community might not be sustainable in the Utah desert at this time, maybe a wandering moneyless tribe?

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  20. Suelo

    I admire your stance on not accepting money for a book or articles of the same sort. You have a journey your on. Good on ya. Doing my own walkabout in June. Stay happy and stay safe
    Zman sends

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  21. Suelo,

    1. How do you make fire?
    2. Who or what taught you which plants are edible?
    3. What motivates you to blog about your life? Also an add-on to that question: Why bother leaving nature when your website already shows people that you can live without money?

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    1. 1. Fire: I find discarded lighters & matches. I've made fires with bow drills & magnifying lenses, but rarely.

      2. Learning wild edibles: library books, from friends & workshops, & trial & error :-/

      3. Motivation to blog: the same thing that motivates any human to speak to others. I obviously still have that motivation, because I'm still blogging & I haven't yet even shared the tip of the iceberg of what's inside me.

      We never leave nature (including our own nature) when we freely give & freely receive, regardless of whether or not we're in 'civilization.'

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  22. The book was great Suelo, thanks for letting Mark share your story! For all who have not yet read it, it is not exclusive to Suelo it is about society, religion, new and old forms of self sufficient life styles. Mark is telling a two fold story mixing how one man (Suelo) made his personal/spiritial quest to where he is now, but also side lines to where it appears (and I would personally agree) we are as a country/civilization and where it appears we are going, the picture is bleak and we can learn a lot I feel from men like Suelo and Mark Sundeen. Namaste. NinaB

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  23. Just reading the book Suelo.....I'd love to hear your views on architecture....I'm an architect in San Francisco.

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  24. What I mean is - how do we trully define our compulsion to dwell in the world in relation to the expression of that desire through wealth. So much of what defines "culture" is wrapped within hyper-expensive built works.

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    1. David, I see human creativity (including architecture) as the same natural creativity that makes trees and ants. If we but look inside, we see that thinking about money stifles our creativity! What the money system does is hijack creativity and mass markets it. Notice how inventors & artists are mostly anonymous, often poor, rarely reaping monetary rewards. Of course, this is the dilemma. It's the marketeers who've spread our creations. Then our creations usually become too much, and we become slaves to them. e.g., Cars. But because of marketing you know about me now! Is it possible without marketing? Maybe our creations would spread more slowly & be in balance, serving us rather us serving them? Cottonwoods are propagated for miles by the wind, coconuts by sea currents, without marketing, after all.

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  25. Daniel Suelo,

    Do not give your path up! You are one of the few people to see beyond the immediate brick-wall illusion of monetary wealth.

    I agree nature does not operate on monetary wealth, it is a shame most would barrage you with negative comments while hiding behind a mask. They think hiding has a strength. If they had nothing to hide, why would they wear a mask?

    Keep it up Daniel! You are on the golden path.

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  26. I actually have a waiting list for my copy of the book! I bought mine so I figure Mark got something freely given (my money lol!). The final person who gets the book will be my best friend for her birthday, although she lives with money she does not use like the normal american, she tries make everything from scratch and buys what she cannot. So her journey is more about not buying into commercialism and consumerism. So she will be tickled pink when I give her a book that was first read by many before she received it! NinaB

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  27. I've read the book and I attended the San Francisco reading. Both are true gifts. Your courage in everything is a gift. THANK YOU, DANIEL SUELO! :-)

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  28. eeWWw...! you people keep talking about suelo as if he's a celebrity. I mean, he's a bum! aHahAHahah...B.U.M! I mean, seriously, you guys need to hang out with me more often and see what Paris Hilton is up to.....aHAHAhaAahaHHaaaH.....

    no. just kidding.

    Suelo, I've never met you in person but in my head you're just magic. you make me want to believe that god does really exist in human. at this age of 31, it's more than sick and tired to be high-minded on divinity as if it's a real thing inside my head. for the time being, I just need to be a melting ice in patience, instead of insisting to become a wholly flowing water. There has been too many tears, but maybe someday I could become like you in my own way.

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  29. I am half way through reading the book. I have always, always, always had a desire to give up material wealth and live as you do, but I never realized that people in this day in age actually do it. I thought that was something that you could only do in stories.

    You have inspired me, and I hope that I can follow in your footsteps and one day live without money.

    I hope that I can meet you some day. As for your critics, they clearly do not understand. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Hi Suelo,

      It would be awesome if you and Harvard professor Michael Sandel put your heads together. He just came out with an important book, "What Money Can't Buy". Here he is discussing the book with Tavis Smiley on PBS

      http://video.pbs.org/video/2232859353?starttime=1200000

      Sandel is best known for his Harvard course "Justice".

      http://www.justiceharvard.org/

      "Sandel's justice course is said to be the single most popular university class on the planet, taken by more than 15,000 students to date and televised for a worldwide audience that runs into millions."

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  30. Hey Suelo,

    Thanks for staying in touch with the world, even when you're a busy celebrity! ;)

    We love to hear from you whenever and however we can.

    BTW, that video was hilarious! "We love to criticize what we don't understand".

    Love,
    PunkyG

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  31. There ia a canadian documentary 'Surviving Progress' on iplayer bbc4, that does a good analysis on how we have reached the present moment situation, from an anthropological point of view (interesting to watch). Ana

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    1. Can't watch in the US. How to get around this?

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  32. Suelo,

    Why do you dumpster dive? Is there not enough food in the canyon to sustain yourself?

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  33. Suelo! How happy I am to find your blog!

    Currently I am living in Vail, CO although I consider myself a citizen of the planet and the universe. Thank You for doing what you do, and writing about it.

    I think I have heard stories of you from other Moab, UT travelers. I love that part of the world!

    I searched "how to live without money" because I am trying to do it too. I am just starting, and de-creasing my dependence on money slowly, and you are such an inspiration.

    I started a blog earlier this month called - the money-free living project - and you are welcome to see it if you want here http://moneyfreeliving.blogspot.com

    My name is Sofie and maybe some day we will meet. I look forward to reading your blog and learning a lot from your lifestyle. I quoted you on my blog's home page, I hope you don't mind. What you said about freely giving and receiving touched my heart in a very special place.

    Mahalo! (Thank You!)

    Sofie K.

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  34. THAT VIDEO WAS HILARIOUS!!!!

    Forget the haterz.

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  35. hi daniel - libby here (i stopped you on your bike to tell you about the blm coming to your cave...) - i haven't gotten to your book yet, but have been admiring you from afar (no, from aclose...i'm here in moab :-) anyway, it seems you have no shortage of friends - what a blessing! - i hope to be included, soon. i'll stop you again, when you come home, and hopefully, we can have a lovely chat. until then - libby

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  36. Hi Daniel, I'm a high school senior who read your book as extra credit for an English 1A class last semester. The Man Who Quit Money opened my eyes to so many things in society that I never questioned before. What really touched me was when you said something about feeling free when you finally quit money, feeling more free than Bill Gates probably ever feels. Though I must admit that I have no intention on giving up money in my lifetime (Unfortunately, I'm a believer in the dollar bill illusion), I have started to reevaluate my priorities on making, saving, and spending money. I don't know if you will ever read this, but I would just like to say that you have touched at least one person from that book written about you. I'm in awe of people who have the guts to choose to live their lives (what is considered) unconventionally so that they can be happy.
    Good luck in your many future adventures & Thanks for being you :)

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