One Bag Theory

Back in 1974 my good friend AK and I traveled cross-country to Encinitas, a small beach town slightly north of San Diego. We crashed at his friend’s bungalow and spent our days sunning and bodysurfing at Moonlight Beach and our nights smoking pot and drinking wine. We made friends with a hippie guitar guru wandering the coast with a long-haired blonde. Rockford and Carol were free as the wind.

“We only want a place to sleep, eat, and place our music,” Rockford explained atop the bluff, as the sun set in the Pacific. They were staying with a clinical psychiatrist from UCSD studying the effects of LSD on humans. They were two of his guinea pigs and the acid left them daily dazed. One afternoon Rockford defended his participation by saying, “I don’t believe in money. I have everything I need in one bag.”

“What about your guitar?”

“That’s my extra, but other than that one bag is all anyone needs in this life. Some clothes, sandals, a good book, plus a little weed.”

Rockford offered me a place in his band. Carol played tambourine. I was to solo on kazoo. He looked at my canvas travel bag.

“Way too much shit.”

“It’s almost nothing.” I had more clothing than the two of them.

“Nothing is nothing other than nothing.” Carol dismissed my excessive possessiveness with a wry smile. I wasn’t getting the message and the next morning they left without me for San Francisco.

AK and I hitchhiked back across America. We re-united with Rockford in Woodstock. The three of us remained friends and I never asked the old hippie about abandoning me to a life of meaningless acquisition.

This morning I read an article in Huffington Post echoing Rockford’s one bag theory.

A 69 year-old German woman abandoned money twenty-two years ago. The divorcee has perfected a barter economy called “Gib und Nimm” or Give and Take. Her attempts to convert Dortmund to a moneyless society was met with derision by the workless and retirees addicted to cash or credit, but her year-long experiment has made her a happier and healthier person.

According to the HP all of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.

Rockford understood that money is the root of all evil, but somehow I don’t think this theory works in a go-go bar.

At least not at my age.

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