Masafumi Nagasaki lived alone and naked on a small Japanese island in the East China Sea for almost 30 years. He was no Chuck Noland¹. Masafumi chose to live as a recluse. He was a castaway by choice.
He didn’t eat meat, nor even fish, surprisingly. But he smoked.
You might be thinking “30 years? It must have been good weed”. It was tobacco.
So where did that come from? Well, Masafumi, being a clever older dude of 82, got $120 each week from his family which funded his bad habits and a weekly boat trip to the nearest settlement.
That income was his one-legged economic stool; his means to stay connected to society. Financial support created options – for fresh water, food, health services and tobacco.
The infamous “North Pond Hermit” – Christopher Knight, also had a one legged stool. Knight’s economic support came through pilfering homes and cabins in Maine, in the US, where he he lived as a hermit for 26 years until he was caught red handed as they say in that neck of the woods. He lived alone in the wilderness, he said, because “I was completely free”.
Even the most reclusive souls seem to find it difficult to survive without some type of financial or economic back-up. The more remotely you live, the more you depend on nature to provide. The closer you live to civilization, the less chance mother nature has to intervene, so you need more supports.
How many of these can you count on?
- a salary or wage
- social security
- cash or savings
If you have all of these you have a six legged stool. Different types of investment (diversification) add still more. Six legs brings security and financial freedom. Designed well, the stool remains stable even when a few legs fall off.
A beggar in a country with no social net also has a one legged stool – begging. But the generosity of passers-by is a precarious existence. Living in a complex society demands multiple incomes or financial supports. Things go wrong and you need the back-up. Freedom in the wilderness is a lack of obligations. Freedom in society is having the financial means to deal with whatever arises – including mishaps, as well as your evolving tastes and desires.
Some time hence the more inspired governments on this planet will begin introducing Basic or Universal incomes to cover the necessities of living. Until that happens, or unless global class revolution comes first, think about adding more legs to your personal economic stool. You can get some ideas on doing that affordably in this blog.
So what happened with Masafumi Nagasaki? Well in June this year he became ill and had to leave the island for hospital on the Japanese mainland – probably forever. One upside of civilisation is better health care. The challenge is figuring out how to make basics like health care and education affordable for everyone. It’s about how we keep civilization civilized.
PS “Jeremiah Johnson”, is a great movie about a man surviving alone in the wilderness if you’ve not seen it.
1 Chuck Nowland – Tom Hanks character in the movie “Castaway”