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The 'Great Escape' Support Network thread

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I thought it was very heartening to see everybody's response to the Steve Maxwell Clip (

) over in the Monkey Gym forum, so I have decided to create a thread/topic along these lines.

Basically offering a place of mutual support, encouragement and ideas for people who are wanting to break free from a 'normal' (but not desirable, or arguably natural) lifestyle - and to include more time with loved ones; more play, relaxation, restoration; more time to meditate; etc.

Not that there is any one way to do this (i.e Steve's nomadism isn't for everyone).. you may even still 'work' a lot, but you love what you do so much that work and play lines are blurred. You may stay in one place, but change up the hours or work (or work from home). It may be multiple part-time or casual employment to facilitate more play. The freeing of time-energy to do what you actually want to do in your life seems to be the key thing.

There seems to be a trend in the reduction of material possessions associated with this (having a few, high quality functional items; as opposed to a house full of clutter and 'things that were on sale').

Ok; let's go!

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Great initiative, Dave. This has been on my mind for a while, and is probably my top goal (since it will enable other goals, as you mentioned.)

As mentioned, different people have different circumstances so there is that, and as said some might even like their jobs!

I think that most of this discussion has to do with a change in attitude in outlook. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that most of the limitations are self-imposed, and most of it has do with actually getting off ones behind and doing something about it. It is also the most difficult thing to change. Steve Maxwell is just such a great example.

Here are some points I think are important:

  • Avoiding debt like the plague

  • Be a cat like mofo - seriously!

  • Avoid being emotionally tied to job / career status, ie. you are not your job

  • A low-cost lifestyle (preferably in a place with low livings costs, though much can probably be done even in high cost areas)

  • The Renaissance Ideal ie. being skilled at many things, avoiding the point diminishing returns.

  • Avoiding the Bermuda triangle of death: House( +loan and payments), car (+load and payments) and a job to pay for the previous two.

Sure, there are practical limitations:

a. that employers REALLY want you to be at work, even when it is not necessary: http://cluborlov.blogspot.dk/2014/02/the-good-life-mobility-anonymity-freedom.html

b. Some jobs, thankfully I should say, still require human interaction so "techno-nomadism" is more difficult in this circumstance.

c. If you have a job, most employers want full-time employees rather than 1½ or 2 part-time ones. Currently the choice is theirs to make, financial crisis and what not.


What I take from this is that in order to enjoy a more self-determined life it is crucial to have leverage. In this context that would probably mean to have multiple skills that can be exchanged for money.

Also I would choose at least some skills that do not need a corporate structure in order to be worth something, to avoid pencil pushing, chair sitting and office politics.

Obviously most people reading this would have at least some proficiency with-in a health care, "fitness" and movement context. And that is probably a reasonable skill-set to have.

Anyone care to elaborate on what they feel are good skills to learn?

I will just go out on a limb, and mention that some posts related to this topic has been on the archdruidreport recently - and if you haven't read John Michael Greer yet, then you probably need to.




with regards,


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I am on board with this. Thanks for the topic Dave.

I sort of have been going way off topic at a new blog on this subject, which effectively gives me a new space where I can say whatever/however the hell I want to, which is useful for a "shy" person like me. 90 day blog style.

http://ilikemovement.blogspot.com.au/ <- so if you want to visit, you have been warned highly NSFW (I hope).

I have secured my 3 days a week starting in June. To be honest, I am way off the deep end and am doing great non-work almost all day now (will not pay bills though). :D

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Dave & Frederik, I totally am into what you guys write here.

I guess a big turnaround for me was the thought that I have to have an end goal already in mind - ie a career change to x. I don't need to know the end goal, there isn't one, so why kill myself with that impossible delusion that I will somehow find a magical career just fit for me?

The paradigm shift is me just wanting to be open, learn, grow & enjoy. Where that takes me is necessarily an unknown & exciting.

Every day with this new paradigm is opening up wonderful things - helped along greatly by mind/body fear & pain reduction or outright elimination.

Also, acknowledgement of my natural advantages (many) and work at this over the years (more than I used to give myself credit for).

My little two year old (J) is the perfect little embodiment of herself. That is where I am heading, hopefully.

She and my 4 year old (D) were in the bath and had the waterproof camera. D commands sternly: "SHARE!". J whacks her in the face. D commands again: "SHARE!". J whacks eldest again in the face. I suggest: "ask nicely". D says: "please can I have the camera?" J: "Okay", and hands over the camera.

Change is deeply unsettling also. Such is life.

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Great work AndrewL and *great* post Frederik!! Thank you both for the insightful and helpful first two responses.

Frederik - I am very familiar with the Archdruids work. Really great resource (blog) and reading (books). And, yes; Catlike mofo is essential. There are many level to this.. The Renaissance person/Expert Generalist ideal is something Kit and I talk a lot about - we are definitely in on this. I even wrote a blog about it last year (http://physicalalchemy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/expert-generalism.html)

LOL @ 'Bermuda triangle'!! :D That is a great term, and one that I had not heard (until now).

AndrewL - Go the 90 day blog! Something changed for me (possible from the lack of sleep..) during that challenge. . Do it!

Interestingly; I have actually found exactly what I want to (am meant to) do with my life.. some minor tweeking and the like, but I've found it(!!). I still need to skillfully avoid the Bermuda triangle (at least two sides of it) and a few other points. Keep up the Renaissance man studies.

Man; what a great start to this topic!

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Writing @ 2.30am - WTF? I am pretty tired now. Lucky to be not suffering B) most of the time.

I was like: "do what you FEEL like", why does Kit bang on about that so much? ohhhh riiiiight, I think I get it a bit more... when I just feel compelled compelled compelled to DO IT, what else am I going to do? Sometimes it isn't very subtle, thankfully.

Congrats on your discoveries Dave.

I had an amazing day today, just amazing (at place of work). So hard to work when one is flying high - this is a big warning for people: your normal work may suffer. But I got some amazing stuff totally done today. Mind blowing stuff, which if it were to happen in its full form, would be um mind blowing :blink:. If not fully realised, it is still great work.

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Well, Dave, I have already read all of your blogposts. :rolleyes: !

As far as this topic goes, I think/hope that a part of the great escape is to make it explicit, ie. identifying it as a goal and acting accordingly.

The most elusive part of this, for me at least, is the mindset part - as far as I can see this sort of process requires a massive effort in the self-inquiry and meditation department. The rest should flow from this, see what shakes loose.

JMG is a very lucid writer, scholar and thinker. And he has definitely shaped my thinking the past few years. He also identifies that there is a certain satisfaction in making a great escape, what he calls "sticking it to the man".

As Andrew says it is a slow and deliberate process, and there probably is not any definite goal per se - enjoy the view. Or, I would say, that when you get to where you would not change a thing - even if money was not an issue,that is the "the goal". Work is play and vice versa. Kit & Steve comes to mind.

Perhaps it should be change to the Bermuda triangle of "debth": Death+Debt. - I think credit is due to Dimitri Orlov for coming up with the phrase. That does not make it any less awesome.



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You have.. :D

This (http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/12/14/how-to-avoid-work/) Just popped up in my fb feed. I've read it before; interesting some were ahead of the bell-curve (~1949).

I agree about making it explicit and mind-set. Something Kit and I were contemplating was the possible correlation of the type of hara you get from improving your physical body with the necessary drive and persistence needed to escape.. i.e it's not a matter of intellect (or intellect alone); I know many intelligent people without the will to follow it through. I am personally very intrigued by this possibility..

"Debth" - I like it! (the term, not the actuality).

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I wonder about doing it in the Bermuda triangle... our triangles are all different, but specifically within debt/car/shit job, respect if you can elevate.

I only have a shit job (my prison), the other two are sorted. Enjoy your advantages.

When I elevate out of my job, time to party. F*** it, it's already time to party.

Some many dudes from Adelaide have done it...

A goal that I am aiming for - be buddies with your heroes. I mean when your teachers are gone... what if they are already dead? Pay your respects!!!!! RIP

Get on their level. They want your there.

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Listening to hip hop makes me think it is a great culture to elevate with: mental, physical, creative, contemplative. Reminds me of something: ST.

Rocknroll not quite so much... however possible, my mate has elevated his band after 10 years. Respect to them they are playing splendour in the grass this year.

Adelaide boys elevating, showing the way.

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I just fully resigned. 3 days / week just wasn't going to cut it in prison. Plus not being able to do the work any more (in a good way), pretty much makes this decision easy. Thanks for the forum to talk seriously without too much fear. So people know me a little better, what's the harm? ;)

Plenty of other things to keep me busy.

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Go Andrew!

I resigned just before my 30th birthday (from a coveted live TV directing position) and had my 30th birthday in Japan. Never have had a 'job' since then.

Dave, thanks sincerely for starting this thread.

So, Andrew, think about contacting Hollie to talk to her about those three classes she needs teaching... And re. your comment "Get on their level. They want your there."; nothing could be truer. Congratulations.

(Still have to pay the bills; there's a saying in Zen):

​"Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water."

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That sounds great Andrew!

and yes, great topic Dave.

Apropos, I hope that the residency or in-house training, that Kit has referred to elsewhere, is going to play out - if so, then I will do whatever to make it happen. I think that would be a perfect start or stepping stone towards my idea of "non-job". The timing also seems to be just right, also it is the right amount of scary.



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I just fully resigned.

Fuck yeah! That's fantastic! Kit - give that man a free Cat-like Mofo t-shirt! (when they are actually developed).

what's the harm?

None at all. This is a thread for supporting people to do this. :)

Frederik - I hope this plays out too.. I will keep poking Kit until it does! Having been more or less the prototype for this (pseudo-apprenticeship/Internship), I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was/is a wonderful learning experience, on a number of levels. I hope these learning methods (apprenticeships) make a comeback...especially for movement systems. It makes a whole lot of sense (for physical methods/arts), and having a science degree beforehand facilitated another level of complexity to the theoretical discussions I could have with Kit; and likely accelerated the learning process for me. So yes; I will prod and poke.

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​"Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water."

​"Before enlightenment: care for kids, be a good dad/husband.

After enlightenment: care for kids, be a slightly better dad/husband."

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I had the most wonderful final week at work. I decided not to do any of my job & just do what is true and real to me.

My colleagues loved it, I think. I got so much real work done. I left happy, calm and content, walking down the hall and saying goodbye. It felt like a casual walk through airport transit.

I tried my hardest and gave everything I possibly could in this job, not a pleasant one. I always tried to help people. Most people leave bitter and twisted, but I left completely happily.

Hopefully more people can do this.

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I actually came out of the workshop thinking hmmm a workshop like that really needs some sort of debrief guide. Little did I know, how much of an impact such a ridiculous thing as saying "I can't do this" can have.

I haven't mentioned it, but I think a part of the reason why this moment in particular was so powerful really goes back to me as a 3 year old. My dad had a stroke and was basically unable to communicate or move for 8 years. He then died. I accepted this - I was 3-11 years old, you just get on with things. However, I realise now with my own kids how much a hole that left in our lives. Specifically: thinking about how much I have pushed my girls past the ridiculous statement: "I can't do this"... so many times. I think from 3 I just decided to do things on my own - my mum said it to me the other day: "you were climbing on the roof and sitting there with your cat, no fear. You never had any fear and just did whatever you wanted & never fell down or anything."

I think it was a big weight to be lifted, an examination and understanding of some of my fears & wow, acknowledgement that I want to do things with other people (instead of 'vicariously' or self teaching).

So thanks to Kit for being the first person that I can remember to actually push me past "I can't do this." It was always me saying, "yeah I can do that." To get beyond that self-limiting, though somewhat positive sounding position - nice.

I am pretty happy to have the space to say and examine these things among friends actually - my personal workshop debrief - thanks for all comments especially as all have been good. Pretty scary thought if I was left to deal with this alone!

;) You're not alone. :D

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Yes, Fight Club is a great movie! :D

I rate that scene where Tyler aims the revolver at that guys head; and makes him promise to start on the path to fulfilling his dreams tomorrow (and steals his license to check up on him) as one of the most compassionate scenes I have seen in a movie. I'm sure many would disagree(as Edward Norton's character does); as it is a shocking scene and a dramatic way to present the blocks people have, but it illustrates how powerfully insane people are with this stuff.. to literally need a gun pointed at their head in order to live. Of course it is a work of fiction, and not recommended in 'real life'; but worth considering what you could get done if a such an occurrence happened to you..

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On the topic of generalism...actually its more of a feeling of independence for me.

So what am I actually dependent on: I need food to survive, that's obvious. So what happens when food stops arriving at the grocery store, or if I stop having enough money to pay for it...do I know what to do?

Checklist for this:

- practising bow hunting

- what if i can't afford a bow?

- practising bow making (sweet I can make one from scratch now...soon will be learning to do it with stone tools that I also make!

- practising foraging and edible plant identification

- butchery and meat preservation without power

- making veggie gardens and maintaining them

- understanding rain catchment (see plumbing below)

Ok cool so that's almost covered, but I do need much more practise. What else?

Shelter and living arrangements! OK so I need a few things here:

- practising basic wood work and building skills. I have been helping my friend renovate his house, which includes building walls and other structures, learning basics of building and carpentry. Also currently learning some hand tool basics to get even better

- basic plumbing skills.... need to do more of this

- other basics such as fire making (can do it with a flint and a bow-drill now...booyah!)

- hide tanning (blankets alright! also other clothes! gunna get into some shoe making soon)

- basic tailoring for clothes....still haven't gotten into this yet but it's on the to-do list.

Its quite an interesting feeling when I'm reasonably close to being confident without being totally reliant on the system like some sort of large baby person. This is true independence!

I'm off to the USA to do this course soon: http://www.lynxvilden.com/

Also working closely with a bunch of pro bushcrafters around the place.

On a side note, once you learn how to forage you really never look at the world in the same way again. YOU CAN EAT SO MUCH. seriously its like a sweet salad garden just growing everywhere. I know a few guys who don't even buy food that much anymore. They have veggie gardens, and they forage and hunt and also eat roadkill and whatnot. Interesting!

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