One of the things I have dreaded since my childhood, was the fear of being poor and not able to make ends meet. As a 6th grade kid, I walked through the streets of Hindu Colony, Dadar observing the people live under the Tilak bridge Families, Kids..Their assets inside Steel trunks. They were occupied in their activities..Cooking food or dividing acquired stale food. Kids playing along the roadside footpath rolling and beating cycle rims. The poverty did not shock me. What concerned me was their indifferent attitude and acceptance to a daily life of nothingness. It made me wonder that if these were given work, would they work at all for a pay? Would there be people who were beggars willing to work, but the current fate is only due to no jobs.
I concluded that the reason for my fear was not Poverty. It was the fear of getting stuck in such a situation in which I have no ambition to do work or I am ostracized by society as not good enough and fated to earn on the roadside. Would the mind collapse, in a nutshell. Fear of Insanity or feeble mind.
The vacation in Mumbai was the beginning. It exposed me to circumstances that I had never seen before in my life. As I entered the building to go to the Yoga Class, I saw this small room again.
The man had used the vacant portion under the stairs to make a small room for himself. He could barely sleep inside (with folded legs). He seemed to be a watchman of the building.
I remembered a late night when my parents were late from a party and I had no key to our house. I had slept under the main stairs of the apartment in a cold night. When I was solitary, I had no airs about myself. It was simple. I rested, when I needed. A bed / A blanket was a comfort.
A personal experience under the stairs made me aware of the world and mindset of this man who was ok to live there for his entire life.
I thought, “I need to earn enough to be barely comfortable. My thought included the following assets.
1 room for family of 4 to live (We had lived in just 2 rooms at Delhi , so 1 was bare minimum)
Fuel for food
Dal – Chawal/Roti little oil/ Mustard/Basic spices/ Garlic/
1Vegetable once a day
Again..These are my views as a 6th grade student to survive. The biases were set by my surroundings.
The situation has not changed even today. We have larger slums. People still live in Empty Pipes.
I was fortunate to have moved up the ladder and can afford a 3BHK. A luxury beyond what I dreamed as bare minimal at 6th grade. My fear is still at the back of my mind but my wish list that causes this fear has increased, to what I would have felt “Luxurious” in my 6th grade. There are peers who would go on a Foreign country tour in Summer vacation. I would probably do this at the right time.
The right time or such an “exotic” location worth the expense is yet to come.
I lived in different circumstances have adapted / “Acclimatized” to society around me.
‘I ‘ am not “accommodative” to basic needs of life. I do not have a handle on my expenses. So I fear and I strive to earn more.The fear always rules.
Every salary band has set of incompetent people when there are more industrious people to do the job at fraction of the cost.
My colleagues in a 3rd world country Fear that they have sufficient gap with lower economic class that they may face the same as their USA buddies in few years.
This is still a lesser fear as their skillset gets redundant with time, and there is demand of “Real” work in a trade that demands more physical labor and craftsmanship to serve a “Foreign” investment.
The above is probably what sets me on thinking as a minimalist. It is said that people start minimalist thinking because things are not too rosy in future. I thinks its the right idea for every prospering person as well.
It was important for me to connect with circumstances to understand, the thought process of people living in “filth”. To unlearn, that “filth”, as it appears to me, is because I never got my hands dirty or that; I was blessed with good upbringing and decent tools to live. I may want to live in a pipe and experience what my mind goes through that day.
No matter what you earn, you will always feel the need for more and more. Crib for more.
Earn what is bare minimum required for the job. Stay lean and work hard. (Lean also means less resources). This “sustains” longer.
You must “know” what it feels to live as a pauper. (Hope for best/ Prepare for the worst.) Unless you are less resourced, you will not be in a situation to think beyond limits.
Eg. Israel has less land/ less water, but they are good at yielding maximum crops.
For Jobs that Demand physical labor, try to do it yourself.
Can I do it? No. It’s painful. I wrecked the gadget more. Engage a craftsman. (Now did you realize the value? Do you feel this person should be paid better. Hand him a gracious tip.)
If you can do it yourself, that’s the best policy.
You mastered another art! Saved money and you are independent. The best part. Due to your involvement you will have some respect for the trade.
I will end by few sayings from The Buddha few are relevant to above thought:
Since future lives last for a very long time, gather up riches to provide for the future.
You will have to depart leaving everything behind, so do not be attached to anything.
Generate compassion for lowly beings, and especially avoid despising or humiliating them.