I’ve written thousands of words about my long journey to understand such western maligned concepts as work, freedom, and purpose. So I am not going to rehash any of that here instead I want to jot down a couple of personal thoughts about wants vs. needs and the nature of the Ideal Man.
As for me – a sixty one year old man, self-exiled in Mexico – I can tell you exactly what I want now:
- Dignity – for my last few remaining years walking this earth.
- Peace – and quiet, so that I might examine the pathway of my life.
- Health – so that I might keep running till the day I die.
- Books – lots and lots of books, so that I might continue to learn the ideas of others.
- Paper – for which to scribble my ideas upon.
- Learning – ‘if you’re not busy living’ (and learning) – as Dylan once said – ‘you’re busy dying’.
- Satisfaction – given the creativity that has sprung from what I have learned, to produce original work.
As to my needs:
- A roof over my head – a place to write
- Good food and drink – frankly, with a much diminished libido; books, drink and good food are my most stalwart companions.
- Serviceable clothes, fresh air to breathe and clean water to bathe in.
For me, money and possessions – in the end, meaningless.
At my age my thoughts wander in a more spiritual direction like trying to discern the true characteristics of a virtuous man: To not take what is not yours. To eliminate your wants. To reduce your needs to the bare minimum. And to practice humility.
I told my friend, Maximo the other day about the Ideal Man I saw crossing the street in Lima, Peru a few short years ago. He was about 60. Unbent. Wearing a clean but old set of clothes, laundered many times. So poor, he probably didn’t have 2 pesos to rub together. He was brown from the sun, ripcord thin wearing old worn sandals. His whole aesthetic was the primeval Adam. One with nature, at ease with modernity, but most importantly a man who was comfortable in his own skin. I thought him handsome for his extreme simplicity.
I told Maximo – I aspire to be that man. I remember reading how Thoreau once bemoaned a traveler he spied carrying two bags when he clearly thought one should have sufficed if he had more properly managed his wants.
I am far from rich but I am financially independent, maybe because I don’t aspire to owning anything anymore. For whatever contrarian reasons I view possessions as encumbrances, as responsibilities.
And four years in Mexico have helped me shed my past. What I once was, I no longer am, nor shall I ever be again.
I am like Livingston now. ‘I will go anywhere as long as it is forward.’