Sometime around two years ago I read an article about this guy who, the article said, lives in a cave outside Moab Utah. The article also said his name was Daniel Suelo.
“Hmmm…interesting”, I thought. (After all, what self-respecting primitivist wouldn’t enjoy a story about a guy living in a cave?)
It also said he had given up the use of money about 10 years prior, and hadn’t used a penny since.
Yep, it turns out Daniel had been inspired by the Sadhus of India and the teachings of Jesus (among other spiritual masters) to simply quit using money. And more than that — he wanted to give up relating to the world by thinking in terms of credit and debt entirely. No more “I’ll give, if I get…”, this man wanted to live by giving freely, and receiving freely. Just like all the other animals on God’s green earth.
I thought: “One of these days, I’ve got to meet this guy!”
And as it turns out, this spring I finally got the chance.
I had just finished visiting an old buddy who was working as cougar tracker for a scientific study outside of Grand Junction Colorado, and the next item on my travel plans was to go to the Wintercount Primitive Skills Gathering in Maricopa, Arizona. But in the meantime I had a week with nothing planned. I looked at a map, and realized Moab was just over the border. I thought: “If I don’t do it now, when?”
So off I went. In search of a moneyless man.
I arrived in Moab, and got a bunk at the local backpacker hostel (Moab has a sweet hostel called the “Lazy Lizard“, with bunks for less than ten bucks. Really, it’s a bit of a dive, but…it has bunks for less than ten bucks!). Then I thought to myself: “Now what?”
I knew Daniel had a blog — after all, I’d been reading it off and on for two years. So I knew he used the internet, at least occasionally. What should I do? Email the guy? Try to set up a meeting at the library or something? It just seemed so…awkward.
There had to be a better way.
Then it hit me. While it appeared that Mr. Suelo and I shared a few fundamental beliefs in common, one such philosophical point was a faith (though I’m sure his is far stronger than mine) in synchronicity — the belief that things happen for a reason. And if things are meant to happen, they will happen. Usually you just have to put an intention out there to the universe, and let go of being attached to the results. Trust that whatever happens, it will be for the best.
So why not just follow my bliss, explore some canyons around Moab and see what comes? Trust fate to set up a meeting, perhaps. After all, the way Daniel lives had always been a bit of a fantasy in the back of my mind, so why not explore the country around Moab as if I were a wanna-be moneyless cave dwelling hermit (not really that big of a stretch for a primitivist) and see if I run into the real thing? The worst that could happen would be I’d spend a week exploring canyons and caves around Moab. No down side, really.
So once again, off I went.
It didn’t take long, actually. On the second day of exploring a particularly promising canyon, I scaled passed a waterfall into a wide opening in the walls and heard the faint sound of a guitar off in the distance. I followed the music, and found a cave. I waited outside the cave for an end to the song, and then called out a friendly “hello”. I was immediately greeted by a smiling Daniel.
And not just him, but another fellow (a Frenchman named Benjamin) who was traveling the world without money, plus two incredible (and quite stunning) Mexican women (Yazmin and Marissa) — one of whom (Marissa) was a documentary film maker getting material for a film about moneyless living.
These folks turned out to be such wonderful people to run into while hiking. And really, I don’t know what else to say. We shared some great food, music, and stimulating conversations around the campfire. I got to sleep in a cave for a few nights — what red-blooded primitivist-boy doesn’t dream of that?
And while I’m personally not sure how far I might go toward living without money myself, I think it’s definitely worth a long, hard mulling over. After all, I’m a big fan of the gift economy used by indigenous people around the world. But I guess mostly I just wrote this post to spread the word that people like Daniel and Benjamin exist. To introduce a few more folks to their lives, and hopefully, tell a reasonably interesting story — the point of which is just that sometimes, if you follow your bliss and trust the universe, cool things can happen.
“Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.” – Chief Maquinna, Nootka
By the way, a book just came out about Daniel, maybe check it out: http://www.amazon.com/The-Man-Who-Quit-Money/dp/1594485690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333437636&sr=8-1
And don’t forget to check out the links belonging to these folks that I’ve included throughout this essay.
I bet he could make a lot of money with that book title too: “The Man Who Quit Money”
Awesome post Glenn. Inspiring to say the least…
I love your ways to make life interesting and help things come true which are out there for you to experience. We miss SO much in our busy lives. Follow your bliss everybody. And yes that to a degree at least means give up money. Make time for life.
We have John the Baptist for moneyless living in Fairbanks!
I have a big smile on my face having read this! Thanks, Glenn! I’m hoping our paths keep crossing again.
Likewise Suelo, for sure!
yay! What an awesome piece! Love and peace from a fellow friend of Suelo (he’s featured on our blog, too).
Thanks for all the wonderful comments guys! You’re warming my heart, no doubt about it.
Must have just missed you at the Lazy Lizard, Glenn! I was there around the same time. Wish I could have met your moneyless friend! Maybe we’ll cross paths one of these days too. I’m comparatively free of money (no debt, no credit) but his dedication is pretty amazing! Great blog you have! M
Thanks Mary…I’m really enjoying your blog as well. Too bad we missed each other at the Lazy Lizard eh? Maybe drop me a line when you eventually make it up to Alaska…if you wind up anywhere near Fairbanks, that is. It would be great to hang out in person and hear a few of your stories from the road.