Personally the thought of getting something for free or next to nothing is exciting. Mom used to call it making money, as opposed to just trading it which is what generally happens. People go to work and trade work performed for a pile of paper or an electronic message sent to a computer that remembers everyone’s messages and allows one to trade little electronic pieces of their message for things like food. There are many who even trade that food for something like karma. In many ways everything is second hand.
Mom was by no definition poor. She lived in a giant house that the family back home said looked like an apartment building, she drove a nice car and was lucky enough to retire when she was 50 and move to the ideal location for her dream home, the Ozarks, halfway between her two daughters one living in Illinois and one in Texas. She loved to share how she accomplished this goal without having any special job or jackpot of funds at any time.
Almost everything mom wore was either homemade or came from a thrift store, except her socks and underwear, for obvious reasons. She never went out to eat unless someone took her saying that she could cook better anyway using vegetables from her own garden. The house was furnished with items she had accumulated throughout her adulthood and put time and love into repairing, recovering, and refinishing. Things found in second hand stores, garage sales or even lying at the curb on trash day not caring, when someone said “that’s gross” she replied that this furniture was real made out of wood not glue and sawdust.
She pinched pennies, used coupons saved everything she could, and knew the power of compound interest. When she did retire and move to the mountains she had an estate auction to avoid having to drag that mansion of stuff and all that trash that had accumulated for all those years with her. It had somehow become carefully restored antiques worth piles of money, that she made, started as trash that she traded nothing for. Being the foot in the ashtray girl, you know the one that was told to get her fingers out, but stuck her leg up there and put her toes in it because mom never said anything about toes, reminded her that she traded her time for it, she quickly responded that her time had no value to anyone but her so in the same way it was making time.
She was smart and witty, knew what she wanted and how to get it, not counting on anyone to give it to her.
Living without her for almost 6 years now has been one of the hardest phases to deal with, but sharing her stories keeps her alive and reminds us of the power of one person.
What will this story look like 100 years from now? The term for what she did is Freegan. How will it evolve?