Friday, November 12, 2010

Falling Leaves and Winter Migration

Chasing the Setting Sun Over the Sea

It looks like I'm blowing out of Moab soon for the winter, heading west.  Every year I talk about hopping a boat to Hawaii without money, but I never quite get inspired enough to do it.  This year all my talk infected my friends Isaac and Jen, and their passion to do it pushed me off the fence.  So we plan to hitch to San Diego and wait around until we can hop a random boat!  It's a shot in the dark, but I know of people who have done it.  Last winter was like Siberia here, so I'm itching to go to warmer climes.  Another person might be coming to join us (but I won't give his name until/if/when he actually comes).

I decided to bring the guitar that I found in the dumpster.  I can't believe how into playing it I am (since I was not much interested in it in my youth).  This old dog is learning.  I wrote down some Woody Guthrie roadie/hobo songs that I'm wanting to master as we go west.  Maybe I can write a few of my own when I get better. 

Gift Economists' Cyber-Meeting 

Since I last blogged, quite a bit has happened.  Twelve of us moneyless folks  in the world had our cybermeeting on Oct 27th.  We were, besides me:
Heidemarie (Germany)
elf Pavik (Germany)
Offie (Germany)
Mark (UK)
Sonja (South Africa)
Adin (South Africa)
Tomi (Finland)
Hugo (Brazil)
Raphael (Germany)
Benji (Holland)
The 2 girlfriends of Raphael and Benji (who just joined them. Sorry, can't remember their names).
     (Raphael, Benji, and their 2 girlfriends are currently traveling in Central America)

To see links to websites/blogs for some of the above friends, see

Lifestyle Gift Economists

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the cyber thing worked, so there wasn't much substantial conversation.  It was mostly a chance to see some moving faces of our clan with a bit of chatting, and it was fun and heart-warming.

We couldn't get some faces (like Mark's and Heidemarie's) to show up, but here's a few:

(L-R) elf, me, Sonja, Adin, Hugo
(L-R) Adin, Raphael & Benji's partners, Sonja, me, elf

It turns out Hugo, Sonja, and Roy are no longer on the moneyless path.

New Friends Joining Me, Coming and Going

Roy didn't get a chance to join our cyber-meeting (he was busy hitching moneyless into Mexicali, Mexico!).  It also so happens that, shortly after, Roy quit the moneyless path and decided to settle in LA and be with his daughter.  I think it's a good decision.  He's one of the few who actually gave up all his money to join me.  He then hitch-hiked out to the east coast and back here without money, then to LA and back and back again, then down to Mexicali!

A mellow dude named Braedyn came down from Canada for about a week with his guitar.  I was looking forward to getting to know him better, and have him join us in our go-west adventure, but it seems there were some family complications calling him back to Canada.

Shortly after that, Carolyn left to see her family for the winter.  She plans to come back to Moab in the Spring.  I'm also hoping to be back here then (If the Hawaii *cruise* happens and we find a boat back!).  Carloyn spent 7 months here, and added sparkling joy to my life.  I did a lot of fun and unique things I don't think I would have done had she not been here.  She was also by me through some intense, down times and helped keep me going.

Freegan Ponderings

Free Meal in Moab has also been a total joy, on both ends of it: eating and preparing.  It has brought a lot of people together in Moab, like a daily party.  New people from in and out of town meet all the time.  Just like Food Not Bombs in other cities, I am often pleased at how close I feel with people there.  You can go to clubs and churches and jobs and organizations, supposedly to meet people you have things in common with, but it's not the same.  What we have in common is food, and it's freely given.  That's it.  That's what Communion, (Eucharist) really is.  All food is my body, your body, one body.  No ideologies, no trend stuff.  Free Meal is not classist or hand-down like your classic soup kitchen or welfare program.  It is hand-across.  Folks from all classes and needs and no-needs show up and sit down together for food that would otherwise be thrown out.  

But I do think there's a certain kind of person who is willing to go to eat at something like Free Meal or Food Not Bombs.  It's a person willing to forget class and ideology and sit humble on the grass with everybody else and just be sincerely human.  I'm realizing that that's what's the only real common among us all: simple human-ness.  When we try to find people with things "in common" with us, trying to find people who "think" like us, that's not the common I'm talking about here.  Our common-ness isn't in what we think.  Our common-ness is when we give up thinking.  It's not about belief, it's about Being, which is the True Faith.  This is why I feel so passionate about the freegan path (freely giving, freely receiving), the path that every natural creature in the infinite universe follows.  That is the One True Church, the One Mind.

It sounds like I'm idealizing.  But idealizing is seeing Idea rather than Reality.  Realizing is not eutopic but is just Being, accepting the bad and the good, the downs and the ups.  Commerical civilization is base upon eutopism, trying to eliminate the negatives and stockpile the positives.  Realism is based upon Reality, accepting the negatives and the positives as they naturally come.  Realism is balance, peace, contentment.  Eutopism is a pipe dream that shatters.  Realism, ironically, feels more eutopic than any eutopia we chase after.

Free Meal, like everything in the universe, is precarious and could end tomorrow.  But there's a principle there that is the essence of all life.  That's what doesn't end and what we can every day cultivate within ourselves.

Catching Cynical Comments Before They Come Yet Another... Yawn... Time

Some cynical joker with a stick in his or her hinder parts will invariably come along and say all these free things couldn't happen without the businesses that create them and caste them off.  Never mind that few say anything when enough food is thrown away in the US alone to feed the entire starving world.  [Note added Nov 13: My statement probably is exaggerated, and even if it were accurate, I should have references. Now I'm dealing with the consequences of quickly writing a post without editing or fact checking before I hit the road. I won't be able to rectify this for some time, so I'll just leave this disclaimer for now. But what we do know is that the waste in both this country & in Europe is beyond obscene in a world where millions are malnourished. I recommend Tristram Stuart's writing to get these facts straight.]  Never mind that few consider that businesses couldn't exist without the sun and the clouds that freely give, expecting nothing in return, sending sun and rain on both the "deserving" and the "undeserving", or without the earth which few seem to have problems taking from beyond her capacity.  And a separate entity like free meal wouldn't need to exist if we didn't have commercial civilization.  Again and again, I say, freely giving and freely receiving, without thought of credit and debt, is the essence of all of nature.


  1. Hello Suelo:

    The trip to Hawaii sounds really cool...well...except for the hitchhiking.

    Getting the feeling you aren't the type that has ever been victimized by other human beings, but as someone that has been on the receiving end of assault and child sexual abuse, it's amazing that you're willing to hitch hike as much as you do. It does make you seem quite brave from this perspective. At any rate, this brain apparently wishes it could come along with you, assuming it was remotely possible, but logistically, it doesn't seem feasible. Also, not sure how responsible it is. Hopefully you can find some land to till and find some peace instead of wandering around searching for...well...not sure what exactly.

  2. seidos, yeah, I'd likely not want to hitch if I'd been victimized in that way. We all have something that victimized us, and we usually stay clear of things like it. If loved ones died in a plane crash I'd not want to fly. I know a woman raped by a certain ethnic type and won't go near that ethnicity. Unfair, but understandable. I know for fact the dangers of hitch-hiking are very minimal, blown out of proportion by media, and way less risky than, say, eating "food" from McDonald's. Getting out of bed is risky. Breathing air is risky.

    Why is it hopeful that I be sedentary and till land? We wished this upon our natives and look what it got them. Our bodies and minds continually search; walking to the toilet is a search for relief. But the healthy soul riding in the searching body searches for nothing, just enjoys living, seeing this beautiful earth, having peace in the moment, whether walking or sitting. Migratory geese and nomadic humans live who they are, as do as do sedentary village folk and trees.

  3. I was afraid of hitchhiking before I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Once I did it, it restored my faith in humanity. I met a lot of nice people. I realized they usually picked me up because they saw something of themselves in me.

    One woman picked me up because she felt lost and thought maybe I had an answer since I was her age and "doing something with my life". (I didn't have an answer for her.)

    A guy on a bike teased me I'd never get a ride and two minutes later someone picked me up because he could tell I was a hiker and had wanted to hike the trail himself someday and wanted to ask me about it.

    Others picked me up because every year hikers appear on that road so they look forward to helping out. I even got rides from people who never picked up hitchhikers before but something about me made them stop. I'm not young or pretty, and they were old and married, so I don't know what they saw in me, but it made them feel happy to have a chance to help another person. There are so few opportunities for people to personally do kind things for others. It was a gift to them to let them help me.

    I came to realized my adventure wasn't mine alone. I was actually helping others, making a difference. It was one of the few things I've ever done that made a difference.

    All along the trail were people who opened their homes or cars or coolers of cold drinks for me. I have since heard similar stories from people who have ridden their bikes across the US and also from Suelo. The truth is, if you open yourself up to the gift-stream of the universe, things you need come your way when you need them and at the same time, you are there to provide help for others. It works in this really mysterious way, but it does work.

  4. The last few comments are along the lines of something I actually first heard when crating an eBay account of all things. Somewhere within all the legal text is a section about believing in "the general good of people", which is something we often think doesn't exist.

    Money or not, if we were all more trusting of each other, we'd get a lot more done. I feel that I can almost always trust an individual over a collective entity (corporation, governing body, etc) to do the right thing, but often we get stuck in these groups that we feel we can't fight the direction of.

  5. I would like to know how it is possible that "enough food is thrown away in the US alone to feed the entire starving world". If my assumption is correct that the entire starving world amounts to billions of people, then you are suggesting that the US (with only ~300,000,000 people)throws out many times more food than it consumes. I think this is quite unbelievable; just compare the size of a supermarket dumpster with the size of the store. Suelo, could you please clarify...

  6. An opinion piece in the LA times said the US wastes 40% of food produced. They did not mention the waste that is inherent in a heavily meat-based diet.

  7. Yes I know that food (other than grass) is used to feed animals for meat production and for use in biofuels, but I wasn't counting that. Even if that was factored in, I still think Suelo was exaggerating.

  8. Even if Suelo was exaggerating, the basic point remains. If the U.S. and other first world countries, weren't so greedy, most of the basic needs for EVERYONE would be met. Actually, I think 50% of food in America is wasted (

    The problem is not just limited to the amount of food wasted. Patrick, have you ever been to a third world country? Have you seen how much land is consumed for luxury crops, largely for western society? It's not just about food. It's about sugar, coffee, tea, chocolate and meat and other crops too. These products take vast quantities of fertile farmland that would otherwise be used to feed the starving in home countries. So not only do we waste enough food to feed an equivalent, bordering on obese, nation of 300 million people, we also take much of the best land so we can have chocolate mocha frappaccinos on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I like those chocolate mocha frappaccinos, but I definitely don't agree with the amount of it we consume here in America.

    Take Kenya, for example, it's a country which has suffered severe famine in recent years, yet 65% of their arable land is used for exporting crops to first world nations. How does that make any sense? That people are literally dying of hunger in a country that exports most of it's food to countries that waste up to half of it?

    It could be said that Suelo was exaggerating if he has said we could feed the 1 billion malnutritioned people on this planet with the food waste. But it's probably not an exaggeration to say we could feed those that are literally dying of starvation from the food waste in America. 1 billion are hungry, but hunger is an everyday reality for many in the 3rd world. According to wikipedia 36 million people died last year from starvation (

    If food waste was at 40% in America, that'd be enough to feed 120 million people. That's more than 3 times the amount of people that die, on average, of hunger per year. So, Suelo's original statement "enough food is thrown away in the US alone to feed the entire starving world" is NOT an exaggeration. Hope that clarifies things a little.

  9. My statement probably is exaggerated, and even if it were accurate, I should have references. Now I'm dealing with the consequences of quickly writing a post without editing or fact checking before I hit the road. I won't be able to rectify this for some time, so I'll just leave this disclaimer for now. But what we do know is that the waste in both this country & in Europe is beyond obscene in a world where millions are malnourished. I recommend Tristram Stuart's writing to get these facts straight. Thanks, Patrick, for making sure I'm accurate.

  10. There is no profit to be made in feeding the world's starving masses. Most food based aid we send is intercepted by warlords and thier ilk and then sold for weapons. So how do we properly reach the objective of ending hunger? Growing your own food seems logical but not always practical.
    Daniel, how well did your farming go this past year with regard to efficiency of resources?
    May you and your companions have a safe and happy journey.

  11. Daniel, it felt good to read your warm words, especially now when I am sad, suffering from withdrawal... withdrawal from the magnificent ubuntu of Moab. Miss you! Enjoy your upcoming adventures! <3 Carolyn

  12. "And a separate entity like free meal wouldn't need to exist if we didn't have commercial civilization. Again and again, I say, freely giving and freely receiving, without thought of credit and debt, is the essence of all of nature."

    This is absolutely true and for untold thousands of years prior to the development of farming which led to the development of cities, mankind found his food free for the taking from nature. The real problem today is that there are too many of us, close to 7 billion in fact. I suspect the coming crisis of dwindling oil, water, and good agricultural land (among other things which today it is trendy to call "black swan" events) will play a part in reducing our numbers which would in turn make it possible, once again, to return to the normal state from which we emerged as hunter gatherers when we only had to spend a few hours a day to fill our guts.

    The conditions under which so-called "civilized" man has lived for the past 25,000 years, more or less, have been the "abnormal" ones. Soon, I feel, things will get back to "normal".

    Of course, there have been what we stupidly consider to be "backward" people who continue to live in jungles as hunter gatherers who will be blissfully unaware of our "learned" and "civilized" plight.

    Speed the day!

  13. Suelo said:

    "But what we do know is that the waste in both this country & in Europe is beyond obscene in a world where millions are malnourished."

    Do you take into account how that "waste" feeds insects and microorganisms?. It's not really wasted if you think about it.

  14. Fascinating lifestyle you lead there Suelo. I understand your desire to separate yourself from our so called sillyvization, I can relate to that, but I also believe that some of the choices you make may mean a compromise toward your own health and well being. (not that society centered people don't compromise their's even more though!). I would imagine that one's diet as a freegan, does not always yield the correct physiological choices. Especially when you are putting yourself at times in situations that apparently require you to take the life of other beings to maintain your own. I've subscribed to your blog, and I'll be following your path with curiosity.
    Mango the Fruitarian

  15. @M: You can can define whether or not it's waste if a chicken spends its life crammed with other chickens in cages where they can barely move, pumped full of hormones to make them so fat they can hardly stand, with their beaks clipped, then ending up in a dumpster with gobs of other food, eaten by microorganisms, even as millions of people in the world starve. Some of those chickens may end up in an all-you-can eat chicken wing eating contest, which I recently witnessed. Judge for yourself.

    @fruitarian: Because of the horrors of factory meat, I feel the vegan diet is the best for those who live in Babylon and buy food, and I'd encourage fruitarianism if it's working, if you're in a tropical climate where it's possible. I rarely kill another animal to eat (I've often eaten roadkill), though I do kill living plants to eat, and I am sure plants are sentient. I don't believe lions and wolves or hunter-gatherers are evil for killing animals. Innuits have no choice but to eat nothing but meat. Life would cease if carnivores didn't exist. Hunter gatherer cultures are the only human cultures I know of that live in complete balance with nature, because they don't feel the need to clear entire ecosystems and the animals who depend upon them, to farm.

    I'm hitting the road tomorrow, so probably can't comment for a long while.

  16. Suelo, if you had entered into the Regis and Kelly Morning Show contest and they had called you this morning and you were watching you would have won a trip to Hawaii. See how messed up you are? You're doing it the hard way.

  17. Microorganisms have rights!

    Suelo only cares about humanity, what about those starving bacteria in the world over?.

    He probably has seen those lab images where those pesky beings are shown as if coming out of a Godzilla movie. So it's not surprising he doesn't care about their rights.

    I am going to write a manifesto for the rights of worms and microorganisms:

    "Because they have a right to eat too..."

  18. @M, that's ridiculous. You should focus more on Regis and Kelly... Especially Kelly.

  19. Is it more ridiculous than animal rights?

  20. Suelo, I just sent you an email. If you and your friends end up anywhere near Los Angeles, I'd be happy to give you a place to stay and a ride to get you to where you need to be. I live on a beautiful ranch in the mountains north of Los Angeles, so do please contact me if you end up near LA!

    -Gary D.

  21. HEY

  22. Wow. It looks like you have an adventure ahead of you. Good luck Suelo.

  23. All well and good, but how do you contribute to society when you're so removed from it? I guess you could say that you're not contributing to harmful trends in society -- not supporting wars by not paying taxes, for example. But what if the positive impact you could have by actively engaging in society is much greater than the tiny drop-in-the-ocean difference you're making by simply removing yourself? How are you making the world a better place?

  24. If you make it to san diego, shoot me an I'd like to meet you. I'm living in Vallejo at my cousin's house. I would like to just chat with you about many things :)


  25. @ Ryan M: You must be new here: I get your question (among others) constantly, which is why I wrote the FAQ in the website.

    @ Gary: thanks my friend for having us stay at your beautious place! We are with Roy at his mom's now in LA, getting ready to check out the ports more.

    @L: thanks! Maybe we can meet you if/when we get to San D

  26. Yes, I am new here -- but I don't see my question answered anywhere in the FAQ. I guess the closest thing I see to my question is Point 11 ("What would happen to society...") I've read that and a couple of the other FAQs that seemed loosely related, but I didn't find anything that dealt specifically with my question. To restate: you have this grand vision for how the world should be. What are YOU doing to make that happen -- besides just living it and expecting everybody else to follow your example?

    Don't get me wrong, I give you a lot of credit for having the courage to live the way you're living. It's something I've thought about a lot. But the thing that always holds me back is not wanting to just stick a finger up at the rest of society and go live on my own. Seems selfish. I want to be actively engaged in changing things -- not just holding myself up as good example.

    So how do you do it?

  27. Yeah, you're right, I don't specifically answer that question, though it can be gleaned. I probably should make a new FAQ to make it easier.
    First, I would say, what are zebras and ants and jungle trees contributing to the world? Can you compare Bill Gates' contribution to that of a redwood tree?
    Second, I ask, why do you say I am not contributing? Must a money value or publicized credit/praise be attached to something to make it valid? I can say without doubt that the only truly authentic contributions are those done from the heart, not for reward (praise or money or conscious barter).
    Third, I can say the natural world is already perfect but we make it imperfect because we try to change it to make it better. Simply Being is the absolute best we can "do". Only that which arises automatically, by Grace, from our simply Being, is healthy contribution.
    Fourth, in our desire to change the world, we have created a cancer (uncontrolable growth which kills its host). Right now we take medicines to make cancer less painful, and we cut on it, and that's an okay thing to do for now. Better, we could not feed it at all. Can anything live if we don't feed it? You can fight evil or simply not cooperate or engage with it. Which is better?
    Fifth, if I declaired the things I do to contribute to the world, that means my contributions are illusions, so I can't answer your question. If my life is authentic, it will speak for itself. It is a principle of the world's spiritual traditions to do our contributions in secret (see the Sermon on the Mount).

  28. So I guess the short answer would be "nothing." Parsing away all the esoteric and poetical bits (forgive me, I'm a left-brainer) you expect your life to "speak for itself." Basically, as I said, living your life and expecting everybody else to be subliminally inspired by it. Correct?

    I'm not trying to attack you. Like I said, your point of view is something I've considered a lot recently. I'm just trying to suss the whole question out for myself.

    Unlike zebras and ants and jungle trees, we've been blessed with imagination. We can dream of things that don't exist yet; we can cooperate to make those things real. We can -believe- in things. (I'm sure somebody will retort some nice-sounding bit of fuzz like "well, we don't know that ants don't dream!" When an ant shows up somewhere with a blueprint to halt global climate change, I'll pay attention.) Since we have that gift, we have a responsibility to use it to the most effect in the time we're given. Trying to go back and live in some supposedly-holier animal existence is shirking that responsibility. If we've got the vision others don't, we should be -actively cooperating- with other like-minded people to -change- the things we don't like about the world we live in -- change the structure, change the system, build something lasting and more durable than ourselves. If we don't, we're just on a long-term ego trip with a bunch of well-intentioned, pretty-sounding ideas; we shouldn't claim to be doing anything significant.

    Anyways, that's just my two bits. I sincerely wish you all the best on your trip.

  29. Ryan, Suelo is contributing a huge amount to the world, in the form of sharing his work and his ideas with the whole world. His gifts are everything from friendship, to physical work, to inspiration.

  30. Ryan M.,

    Suelo doesn't owe you,me or anyone else anything as far as "contributing" to the world goes - whatever that means. Where do you get that people owe something to this system and this society? It doesn't make any sense to me. So many people subscribe to this mindset. Where does it come from? What does it mean. He's simply living his life as we're all living our own. What's the big deal? He doesn't have to live it the same way any of us do. Not everyone is the same or has the same wants and needs. Big deal!

    Turil, you're right on!

  31. I think you misunderstand. Maybe I'm making my point poorly.

    No, Suelo doesn't "owe" anybody anything. I'm not talking about "gifts." I don't dispute that Suelo has a positive impact in his own small sphere of friends and family -- but that's not what I'm discussing.

    My original question, again, was how Suelo is making the world a better place. Presumably, he sees a need for some pretty drastic changes in society, which is commendable. He obviously feels very strongly about it. I respect that.

    What I don't understand is how what he's doing -- living without money, being a professional bum -- is advancing that larger goal of revolutionizing the way we all live.

  32. I do nothing and can do nothing to change the world. If the inspiration within me (which is not me) is worthy to rub off on others and change hearts, it will. If not, it will die, as it should. Natural selection. Some seeds live, most die. Either way, it's out of my hands. We can only wait and see. What on earth makes you concerned about my "contribution"?

  33. Just wanted to see where your head was at -- if your lifestyle was worth emulating or not. Like I said, it's something I've thought about. I've been trying to weigh the merits of staying involved in society, doing what I can to make things better in spite of the costs. The alternative is just looking out for myself and the people I care about, removing myself, finding a way to live apart from all the evil and drudgery. Your lifestyle obviously represents one extreme of that spectrum. I was hoping you might have something inspiring to say about it.

    Once again, best of luck.

  34. @Suelo,
    I just looked at this comment thread again, and noticed you replied to my comment.. somehow I was expecting to get any follow up comments sent to my inbox, but doesn't look like that happens.

    Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to respond. I've been an ethical vegan for nearly 25 years, half my life, and am glad you are able to see that facet of things too. Although I can logically agree on the ethical acceptability of roadkill, or naturally dead animals otherwise stumbled upon, I still don't believe it should be valid fair for humans. If you found a mafia victim shot and dumped in a skip, would you look at the corpse and think food?

    Besides, I also believe, that humans are like every other animal in that our true foods should be eaten raw and fresh, thus any true carnivore/omnivore would not benefit from cooking it's meat first. Indeed doing so only makes the food ultimately more difficult to digest (despite sometimes contrary belief expressed by many!) Equally humans are not designed to eat cooked foods of any kind, the kitchen can be compared to a chemical laboratory that effectively changes the molecular structure of food, thus rendering it no longer physiologically completely compatible with human needs. Of course, meat could be eaten raw, and maybe that is how you do it(?), but then you run a high risk of bacterial infection and worse.

    Inuits may be in a position where they rely heavily on meat, but that is clearly to their detriment. They have probably the shortest life expectancy of any group of indigenous people on the planet, often lucky to reach 40!

    I would have to disagree that hunter gather tribes live in complete balance with nature. I suppose my emphasis is on the "complete" because I am not going to deny they are generally far less environmentally destructive than most other forms of society I can think of, but even their lifestyles could be improved.

    I also categorically disagree with your statement that "Life would cease if carnivores didn't exist", how can you possibly know that? The eco system would have to undergo radical changes, that's for sure, but eventually it seems clear to me that things would balance themselves out. Nature has a way of taking care of itself. And no, I'm not recommending we eradicate all carnivorous habits, just supposing what would happen if such a thing came about as a natural consequence of a global mind shift toward more harmonious living.

    I share your views that ultimately there could exist a human society that is no longer based on accounting and exchanging, but rather things shared harmoniously. (in fact, being the optimist I am, I like to believe that given time, such a scenario is inevitable) But even the hunter gatherers use trade between tribes. They have a lot of good things going for them, yes, but I think it is wrong to idiolise them too much.. I believe taking the life of others can be avoided to the benefit of everyone (ultimately). Our societies once too, resembled their's, and what they evolved into.. NO, personally I think something totally new is required, and what you are doing is admirable (in my eyes), but I think also encouraging people to eat more fruit and thus minimise global destruction (which would I believe be a natural consequence!)..

    Just thoughts..