Thursday, August 11, 2011

Untether for freedom

I don't want my life to come crashing down if I stopped receiving a paycheck. This is one of my primary motivations for doing what I am doing.

This is what will happen to most people I know.

The reality is that they are overburdened with stuff, lots of stuff. My new neighbor couldn't survive with out one considering the new car that was recently purchased, a fancy dumb phone, premium cable tv subscription, social networking, new matching furniture and dishes, premium gym membership, a pet, credit card debts, etc... All financial burdens which equate to time burdens which equals going to work.

Getting rid of these burdens is easy, you can wait for a hurricane or other natural disaster to destroy it all or put everything on craigslist. Once it is gone there will be a period of withdrawal which will lead to acquiring new stuff and getting sucked into the terrible feedback loop of shopping. The solution is to untether, a term created by Everett Bogue.

Everett Bogue, a man who I follow online and use as source of inspiration writes about Untethering on his blog His former site (google search for the archived version) is a good source of minimalist ideas/writings

Here are some things I have untethered from and why:
My desire for fancy new cars has faded away, I still drool over them but at the end of the day they won't bring me closer to my goals.

I have untethered from watching TV. In 09 I just stopped because I had better things to do with my life like preparing for a long road trip into Canada. From there I gave up having a TV entirely which lead to reducing my movie and online tv show consumption. I probably watch a film once a month now and usually something that I already have. No more buying movies or shows, I can still enjoy them but on my terms and time.

I used to use a toaster to do eggos but I realize that the only reason I liked them was because they were covered in 100% pure maple syrup so I now no longer have a toaster.

I have sold my bread maker, used to use it to make pizza dough but ever since I became a vegetarian and essentially consume practically no cheese, the pizza is no longer a staple of my diet. If I want some I will make the dough by hand.

I realize that baking is not one of my talents. Ive sold off all my pyrex baking dishes. Over the past two years I have made three batches of butterscotch bars, several batches of cookies, several pizzas, some rosemary potatoes and acrylic headlight covers. I don't need the desserts, pizzas are endangered, the potatoes are too much work, and I could have used a heat gun or some vinyl to do the headlight covers. I don't need to have an oven.

The truly amazing vintage GE alarmclock I have will be gone soon, waking up to the news is how I roll but I realize that news just depresses me so I will use the alarm on my European phone. I still turn of my regular phone to ensure a good night of sleep.

My freezer is full of frozen water bottles to take up the empty space. The only stuff I put in there are bags of corn and peas. I am untethering from stocking a freezer full of food. If I want ice cream ill go to a shop and get some good stuff. I rarely use ice.

A previous post mentioned the disuse of the dishwasher in my apt, I simply don't need it. I'd rather go out to eat with a group of friends then keep a fully stocked kitchen.

I air dry my clothes, no more dryer sheets or fabric softener for me. Obviously I have enough clothes to last a few weeks but I want to shift away from cotton and more to quick drying lightweight materials that don't wrinkle. If I need a dryer I will go to a laundromat.

I am no longer going to pay for internet at my apt meaning not only do I save monthly but will also not have to own a router and cable modem and supply them power. Playing Starcraft will be more challenging and I will probably need to go to my friends place to gain access to his high speed network but this is a bonus since I get to interact with other human beings while gaming.

No more printers, ever.

Notice the pattern so far, all the above items require electrical power. My power bills are really low, so low that I have to pay a fee for not using enough and during the winter down here the fridge consumes 30% of my monthly total.

Things that I am still tethered to but could live without if I had to:
-stuff that doesn't fit in van or isn't used often (golf clubs, books, art supplies, etc..)
-Sonicare toothbrush - a luxury item as I could go back to manual if needed (needs 120V AC, will have to do at work but charge lasts about a month)
-Phone - could just rely on internet or work phone (have acquired a car charger but will do charging at work during week)
-Camera/flash - Not needed but way fun (charging not often needed but will do at work)
-Laptop and accessories - can use work laptop or public computer (charging not often needed but will do at work or wherever)
-Flikr pro account for photos - tied to camera useage
-Blog domain - I didn't need to but it makes the blog better if you own the domain instead of blog name.blogspot.

The biggest tethers I now have are:
-The van - obviously this includes a lot of costs like maintenance, fuel and insurance but it is paid for so no auto loans and I known how to fix it.
-A refrigerator of some type - have one in van (will be depending on propane supplies)
-Kitchen and bedroom will be the van
-Bathroom/shower will be at work gym
-Water supply - source unknown, probably work initially
-Food supply aka the store (I wish I had enough land to park my van and grow my own food)

From this list I can see that work is a big tether now because of power, water, shower/gym and yes my sole source of income.

Phone and Computer are also tethers.

Comments? Observations? Tell me what you think, what are you tethered to and why?


  1. My biggest tethers are:
    1) Computer, I am even thinking about getting an ultraportable so I can use that when I'm off in the wilderness. I probably will resign to using public computers and see how well I like it. Then if I really want a computer I will sell my desktop an get an ultraportable.

    2) Phone, complete luxury item really. I have already decided to get rid of it, once the two months I have left on it are up it is history.

    3) Bicycles. I have four bikes, three of which I rarely use. I also have a hard time with buying more stuff for my bikes also... Oh look at the shiny new derailleur! I would love to get down to one bike but due to my riding habits it makes it quite difficult. But three of them must go.

    Good luck my friend on your tethers!

  2. The computer and phone are tethers for me as well.
    I also think an ultraportable would be nice to have but I still have plans to work with photos and play SC2 so I need processing power. However everything else I do can be done on an ultraportable.