Bad stocks, credit reports, debt, second mortgages, and 12 percent interest rates. Who cares about money? Not Daniel Suelo. Living in a cave high in the canyon lands of Utah, surrounded by waterfalls, and an hour from the nearest desert town, Suelo has gone without money for over nine years.
After years helping small villages in Ecuador, living in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, and traveling as a sadhu in India, Suelo has gained quite a different perspective on life. One that is far different from the materialistic ways of his native country, the United States. These experiences have brought him far from the University of Colorado and the assistant lab technician job he once held to help pay the bills.
Now, Suelo seems fulfilled with his penniless life, saying, “When I lived with money, I was always lacking.”
Suelo maintains a blog at the public library, giving insight into his life and philosophy, stating “giving up possessions, living beyond credit and debt, freely giving and freely taking, forgiving all debt, owing nobody a thing, living and walking without guilt…grudge or judgment.”
His home is simple; small but relatively secure. He shares his room with animals most people would call the exterminator on, but he doesn’t mind. “After all, it’s their cave too.” The day is long, and life goes slowly. He scavenges the surrounding land for something to eat, settling with what the world gives him: a few grasshoppers, some cactus, lizards and the occasional venison.
I’ve always been a strong believer in self-reliance and can’t deny my respect for a man finding his roots in the vastness of an unforgiving wilderness, living without the needs of money or outside help. Unfortunately, these things often go unvalued and sadly misunderstood in today’s culture, where most choose to chase financial and material security rather than finding security in the lack of these things.
Without money, Suelo has no worries about his financial future, or the past that debts him, losing the things he has or ever longing for the things he’ll never have. A freedom most people are too timid to know.
“Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past and things in the future, but money never represents what is present.”
Daniel does not have what most would call an easy life or one of many comforts; instead, he welcomes the challenges of life in the wild, stating: “Hardship is a good thing. We need the challenge. Our bodies need it. Our immune systems need it. My hardships are simple, right at hand- manageable.”
Although most of us will never live in a cave or eat grubs for dinner, his penniless life is merely one of many ways to find simplicity in life, comfort in the security of self-reliance and understanding human connection to the land. These lessons, these simple securities in life, without the need for money, is what is truly important about Suelo’s story.
“Why is it sad that I die in the canyon and not in the geriatric ward well-insured? I have great faith in the power of natural selection. And one day, I will be selected out.”
For more on Daniel you can check out his blog at http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/