What is wealth? If you listen to talking heads on the television, it would appear that wealth is money. Over the past 50 years, the concept of wealth has become very artificial. Fiat money (the government issued and controlled paper kind) is an artificial abstraction of wealth. On it’s own, it’s pretty useful to trade for goods and services. However, most of the wealth in the world is tied to complex artificial financial products that are completely useless to the average person.
Homesteaders leverage the purest forms of wealth from two finite buckets: Time and Land.
Wealth is what you have that can be leveraged to construct your own quality of life. Yet, most people, like me, are not wealthy. I do not have land. I do, however, have complete control over my time and I consider this to be immense wealth because I have spent decades acquiring tools and skills. I was told by parents, who seemed to hate their work, that I should spend my entire life at this thing called a “career”. When I became an adult, all the careers became “jobs” and I have held dozens of those sacrificing 35-60 hours of my week, every week! As someone who considers time precious, I have spent weeks and weeks completing two days worth of work in five days because people do not consider time (mine or theirs) to be a precious resource. I left my last job in 2010 and the past 7 years have flown by so fast. I tried to create a more humane workplace for my employees, but soon found out that employee bliss was not really a priority for most companies in tech. I also know that my extra-curricular activities (Living) will always be seen as a competition for the mind-share my employer wants to inhabit: every single second between 6am and 11pm. I can’t afford to give an employer my most prized possession, in bulk: my time, and control over how it is used. I have the most experience in my field of work yet consider myself unemployable. My spouse calls me Winston Wolfe because I get unexpected phone calls from Fortune 500s to fix the weirdest most unexpected shitty situations. Working 60-80 hours on a truly complex problem is awesome, as opposed to doing something similar at an artificially slow pace ruled by office priorities and politics. This only happens a few times a year creating a feast-famine system that was the hardest source of anxiety to tame.
The system that provides the largest part of my earnings is not perfect. I work on what underpins your internet user experience and support systems that compete to get all your attention. All these Instagrams and Facebooks are quite awesome but they are incredibly distracting. As a developer, I have seen the borderline unethical science of distraction evolve in the past 10 years. I am just about done with it. You do whatever you want but I am going back to the relationship I used to have with the network before Infinite Scroll… I look for the information I need in the machine, rather than let the machine decide what I should be looking at. The Web was supposed to be this repository of all information, yet people have never been so misinformed. In this sea of sadness, there is a bright light and a total revolution: Youtubers! Those who are in my age range, pass on their lived experiences and share projects have been a godsend to someone who has worked almost exclusively with bright tech bros under 25. We are no longer in the same generation. There are people “out there” who have the same dreams of freedom and self-sufficiency that I do! I’ve always loved being by myself and doing my own thing but ideological isolation is a real thing. Living a life that goes against all the mainstream consumerist ideas that everyone buys into makes some people angry. For those that are accepting and encouraging, there is homemade bacon… lots of delicious homemade bacon.
The lifestyle I live today is the lifestyle that my grandmother lived and taught me. While my father was in Washington D.C. or building the avionics systems of the Concorde for Air France, I spent all day with my grandmother: Anette St-Pierre. My grandfather told me about my grandmother’s superpowers. He was an engineer who worked on heating systems for immense hospitals and made a lot of money. Yet my grandparents built everything themselves to exacting standards of quality. My grandfather told me one day: “Ta grand mère est capable de faire deux dollars avec un dollar.“. This translates into English with a George St-Pierre accent as “Yuuur grandmothar can mayke too dallers with won daller!”) Having no understanding of money or finances back then, I spent a lot of time thinking about this amazing sounding statement. With her I learned about knitting and sewing but I also watched them cook and build. I left my mother’s home when I turned 17 and struggled for 20 years. 13 years ago I was crushed between two cars when I was trying to get to her before she passed away. Soon after, I realized that becoming a “Billionaire Philanthropist” (my dream job) was NEVER going to happen for me. At the same time, my startup co-founder told me she had cancer, a fact I had to keep secret from an entire industry that loved her. I decided to just “Do whatever the fuck I want” (my second dream job) and live my own damn life and be myself, for myself. Suddenly, making two dollars out of one became my mantra and my way to survive. I have hacked my life into a unique system that creates quality of life by leveraging time and skills even if I didn’t have land or space. My daughter may think the tiny little herd is a bit “out there” but she can’t wait for us to start on the quail and cavy enclosures. In the meantime she stuffs her face with homegrown micro-greens.
Homesteaders are the only people I have run into who understand the concept of pure wealth and leverage this wealth to create awesomeness. As I embark on the next stage of my life, leveraging my space and time to tend the tiny little garden of veggies and care for the tiny little herd of economic animals, I thank homesteaders on Youtube for daring me to do this, regardless of my current landless situation.
This month I am working hard on my shop and organizing all our tools so that I can work through a backlog of fixing things. But our shop will also be a creative learning space. What do I need to learn? How to make and edit videos. I have been making photos and videos of projects for a long time, like that time we raised butterflies (video), but I never acquired advanced skills. I am investing in the ability to show you what we do, struggles and successes!