Monday, November 10, 2008

Being a producer in a consumer culture

I found this interesting article online today. Ten More Quick Ways to Make Money. The article excites me not because it's a get rich quick scheme but because it speaks well to the complaints I have about our culture. Complaints I can never quite articulate well. We are all consumers, not producers. Our consumption not only ruins the planet but it is unfulfilling. I think this article does a good job of shining light on the unfulfilling part of it. Our culture wants to make us dependent and weak. If my hike showed me anything it's that I feel a craving to be strong and independent.

I love Web development, but sometimes it is too abstract. What real value does it provide to society? Not much, really. I enjoy it because it is creative and involves my mind. It pays well, too, at least sometimes. But it is not tangible.

Doing Web development day after day, month after month, 8 hours a day I end up feeling like my life is passing me by without meaning. It's one reason I left my job and hit the trail. When I returned to the trail it was months before I could bring myself to do Web development again. After living in a tangible world, doing something so abstract was difficult. I turned to organic gardening and working in retail. I wanted to dig and sweep and move rocks and dust shelves. It seemed more real.

At the bird store where I work, I recently sold a tree stand. It is a stand for birds made of a manzanita branch stuck on a rolling base so that it forms a little tree for the bird to sit on. The stand cost $250. The builder probably made $100 or so. My boss says the builder is a flake. I was thinking that maybe I could make a tree stand. I need to learn how to use tools to build the base or else find something to use for the base. I have tried to build a tree stand in the past. Using a pot full of plaster of paris works but it does not roll on wheels and the pot gets full of food and poo that the bird drops. A saucer for a plant works as long as it is strong and not too heavy. These can be hard to find and expensive. The tree stands the pet store sells looks like the base is made of kitchen counter top material. I would have to learn to use power tools to cut kitchen counter top material. I am afraid of power tools.

Another thing I've been thinking of making are bird toys. I could find things at Art From Scrap and use papier mache and other items to make fun bird toys. I can test them on my finicky birds. Too many bird toys are made of plastic or just big chunks of wood. Birds need to forage for their food. This activity is called enrichment. The bird store sells papier mache toys that you can hide food inside. I could make those, too. I could make other toys, too, that are more than just chunks of wood and plastic. Art From Scrap ought to have some good ideas for me.

The idea isn't to make a million bucks on bird accessories but to use wasted time spent in front of the TV or the Internet to make a little extra money. I could spend that otherwise wasted time making something tangible. Then I would feel like I'm not just living in my head being abstract all day, depending on corporate nannydom for my livelihood. It would be one more thing to add to my list that makes money, earns me a little more independence from Corporate America and brings me one step closer to the freedom I seek. The freedom to fly the trail again.

1 comment:

  1. I can teach you how to use power tools. It is not hard, and the satisfaction you would get from creating something on your own is rewarding. let me know if I can be of some help on a weekend. I have ideas on how to make a good base for the tree stand, too.