Citizen Tleilax

Adventures in Living… Ethical Homelessness for the Sake of Personal Creativity and Philosophical Authenticity

At first, the implications of the title may sound strange. Homelessness for the sake of creativity? That certainly isn’t how we’re used to thinking. Society is very thorough about implanting the idea that we have to have a “place to live”, such as an apartment or room. Don’t we need something like that to work on our projects and move towards our goals? And thus don’t we have to work for somebody else to pay for it? The answer is no, at least not always. In fact, not worrying about paying rent bestows an amazing freedom that most people never get to experience as adults. That alone frees up a massive amount of time and energy for the pursuit of creative goals, provided one possesses or has access to the basic tools and/or social network required to maintain what I consider to be one’s real work.

And what do I mean by “ethical homelessness”? This simply refers to the fact that homelessness may be a more ethical option for those who cannot secure income from a source that is at least predominantly aligned with their philosophical ideals. It is an inherent contradiction to hold any sort of advanced views of how society should operate while working for a company that is simultaneously working against those views and using your labor to accomplish it. I personally feel like it damages my very existence and suppresses my personal power to follow that path.

It was a powerful realization to me that I could actually accomplish this type of lifestyle switch-up and essentially remove my enslavement to society’s traditional work/rent exchange (which I believe only exists due to an intentionally exploitative structure, but that’s another topic). Thus, after years of feeling repressed and oppressed by a rigid, life-sucking schedule, I decided that I was no longer willing to sacrifice my time, soul, and energy to things which I am not directly interested in pursuing. If a job cannot educate me extensively in ways I want for my own personal reasons, significantly further goals in the directions I am naturally drawn toward, or deploy my creativity in the exact way I want to do it myself, then I don’t want to be involved. Though I’ve found that it is possible for me to tolerate such utter submission, I have grown tired of it.

I would feel similarly even if an otherwise ethical job was taking too much energy and focus away from following my own drive. I feel like it’s important for me to do my own work since I have the compulsion to do so, even though it may not currently be financially productive enough to retain a home. But that is less of an ethical matter and more a personal commitment to what I myself want to spend my time doing. To be certain, if I could make enough money from my music, writing, art, or whatever else I want to do then I would prefer to have a home. It’s convenient, comfortable, private, and very useful for storage. But it is a luxury, and the exchange of comforts and convenience for freedom is worth it to me.

A question has been posed to me–isn’t that what going to college is for, so you can get a degree and pursue a career doing what you like? This question reveals a very innocent view of higher education, one which tends to dispel itself quickly as you age and begin seeing how the job market works. I do, incidentally, have a college degree: a Bachelor’s in philosophy, the only formal program I found I could tolerate at the universities I had the option to attend. To me, the degree is useless. And of course it goes without saying that many people with degrees in all fields end up in various sorts of tedious jobs anyway.

My time is valuable, far more so than most jobs are worth. The creative contributions to society and culture that I am capable of deserve my attention. All bottom level jobs I’ve worked were simplistic, a waste of my talent and intellect, as they are for many people. Many “good” jobs are painfully dull or at the very least distracting, and I’m no longer willing to disrespect myself by participating in such wasteful activity. By leaving that world behind, I will be thrust further into learning many things that I want to learn, and I will fill the space left vacant with more work on my own projects. I’d rather live my life as an uncertain adventure than as a struggling worker drone, and I look forward to being immersed in the issues that such a lifestyle presents.

Purposefully operating without a secure home can be very difficult, uncomfortable, and even dangerous due to an increased state of vulnerability (to cops, thieves, and other shady characters), and I don’t want anyone to assume that I am an expert simply because I am writing about the topic. I’m still figuring it out and doing my best to strategize. But I am willing to make the necessary sacrifices to see how it works for me, and I am now immersed in what could be a long stretch of homelessness. To be clear, I am living in my car (not a van), so I do have a bit of private space and shelter which could technically be considered my “home”. It would be immensely more challenging to have no owned space whatsoever while still devoting consistent attention to one’s work, though still possible as long as the general location was strategic enough.

I plan to compile a list of basic practical tips which have helped me, once I’ve gotten my methods fairly established. By far the most difficult aspect of my experience thus far has been learning to let go of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, since I no longer have the space to accommodate such possessions. While most of the things I’ve held onto had artistic or educational ends, they were in a sort of homeostasis until I found the opportunity to utilize them. Losing almost all personal space has emphasized how much of a luxury it is to maintain any possessions whatsoever outside of what’s immediately useful. Though it is difficult, it is liberating to cut down on these sorts of attachments.

To allay any potential misinterpretation, I want to clarify that when I refer above to a “social network” that does not mean people whose houses one can stay at all the time, nor people whose food can regularly be eaten, etc. It is very important to make sure one is not exploiting friends and acquaintances and taking advantage of their kindness. Success in this venture requires being as self-sufficient as possible, because repeatedly using the fruits of another person’s labor to support yourself is, rather obviously, actually less ethical than working yourself (it is analogous to the flawed logic and externalization of unethical activity at play in what I call “pseudovegan freeganism”). It’s fine to occasionally request a favor from someone who has offered their services, but it is essential to rely mainly upon your own means of support.

Finally, since I refer so frequently to myself in this essay, I want to specifically express that I don’t think myself superior in any way for taking this step (or any other, for that matter). Everybody is in their own unique circumstances and I think it is another flaw, a very common one, to expect others to do things that you feel are right for yourself. I think practicing elitism in any form is detrimental to the common social good. I am merely writing about my own personal reasons for the way I live my life, for informational and inspirational purposes. I hope that I can provide some interesting thoughts and directions to consider for those who may be in similar situations, fed up with a frustrating and restricting life. The 6th paragraph might even be read aloud to yourself as a personal affirmation of your own worth and power. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts, whatever they may be, as they help me develop my own.

And if you’re able and inclined, you can help me out by donating any amount to my general survival / productivity fund.

6 Comments so far
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I like the way you are approaching this and I think it should prove interesting and possibly even helpful for anyone else that may find themselves in this situation that don’t want to be in those shoes, but must wear them anyway.
I only have my old friend Roger to point to as an example of being homeless. I’m not comparing you with him. He is a major alcoholic and likes to do speed. He doesn’t create anything really, he just takes up space, wants to be left alone, but will demand you feed him, lol.
When he did live in his car, he was always getting rousted by the police. They would start going through his stuff and spread it all out over the ground and they even broke his guitar by dropping it. It could’ve been deliberate, or it may have been accident. They impounded two cars they he had. Then there was the matter of all the tickets he would get. It seems once they get to know you, they like to find ways to write you up for something that ends up costing you money. So I would suggest you leave anything you really valuable, with someone you trust.
Other than that, you have my love and support. I will look forward to reading your blogs. Maybe we can do some video stuff too.
Didn’t that guy that started the Dome Village become voluntarily homeless? I forgot his name.


Comment by Monkey Bucket

you are a smart cookie and soon-will-be-a-buddha, not kidding!

Comment by Ant Dakini

Culture Culture Culture! Let’s keep in mind gender roles as well. This is a perfectly romantic idea for a man but for me, i was homeless for 4 years with the help of friends and such. I’m still paying back Casey in shoe painting for the free floor to stay on. I found a place to live last year that was “all my own”, the HM trailer, but supposed enlightened new agey gen-xer’s can be just as if not more corrupt than any Illuminati run corporation (btw, “Illuminati” has to be capitalized in order for spell check to recognize it as being correctly spelled!), so i decided i would not give my money to them any longer! The extra $100 i give to my landlord who doesn’t bother me in any way (and no one bothers me in any way for that matter) is such a relief! I changed my attitude towards my job and am now grateful that i have income and hours that allow me to do what i need to do outside of it, regardless of what the entire planet goes thru. Life revolves around me. All this being said, hope to see you around!

Comment by Raven

I applaud your courage and resourcefulness! It can’t be easy.

My dad basically lived out of his car for a few years. He’d shower at my mom’s once a week and drive around photographing things. It didn’t seem to bother him, but since then he moved into his old boss’ RV. He helps out with tech support stuff now and again but it’s basically free rent. I suppose it’s basically freeloading, but the RV is just sitting there anyway. :)

It’s been almost a month. How you holding up?


Comment by ctheory11

It’s not perfectly easy, but I don’t find it very difficult either once you get a handle on solving the basic practical problems that are presented by the situation. The exchange of comforts and convenience for freedom is worth it, as lots of free time to do what I want is very important to me.

By far the most difficult aspect of it thus far has been learning to let go of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, since I no longer have the space to accommodate such possessions. This experience has emphasized how much of a luxury it is to maintain any possessions outside of what’s immediately useful.

Comment by citizentleilax

It reminds me of the total hopelessness and despair I felt while working at Joann fabric & craft store (by all accounts a dead end job) How sad to be surrounded by crafting and creativity inspiring implements and tools and not being able to afford to purchase much of it or afford the time for pursuits of creativity….watching as people came and went prepared to express there own creativity.

Comment by Aimee Webb

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