Thursday, April 21, 2011

Redefining Poor

As part of gearing up to move, I've been rereading my dog-eared copy of Ernest Callenbach's Living Poor with Style.  This fat little book was originally published in 1972 when flower children were in bloom, and it covers an amazing number of topics in a thorough, matter-of-fact way.  The author discusses the obvious aspects of living cheaply - growing your own food, cooking at home instead of eating out, buying used items instead of new, using barter instead of money, etc. - and some more esoteric ideas - like how to get cheap legal advice - but the part of Living Poor that I most enjoy is its philosophical basis.  Callenbach is pretty clear on the difference between wanting something and actually needing it, and he tries to pass that on to his readers.  He believes that "poor" is a state of mind, and that the lack of money should be no bar to a comfortable, stylish life.  Of course, some of his numbers are woefully dated and his idea of style has a definite counterculture tilt, but his advice is sound even if it's almost 40 years old.  I'm reading the book again to remind myself how rich I am in most of the things that really matter.

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need."

~Rolling Stones, You Can't Always Get What You Want

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