A very thoughtful friend once told me that I had bypassed teaching some important lessons, simply because I had learned them decades before… that they had passed out of my active consciousness and I was taking them for granted.
So, this week, I’d like to publish an article from someone who is currently young. 🙂
This is the story of a young man named Moritz Bierling. I talk a lot about doing, rather than talking, and I’m please to post this because it’s all about doing.
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It was in 2013 that I first encountered freedom philosophy, after randomly stumbling upon this weirdly beautiful term, “libertarianism,” on a blog in some lonely corner of the Internet. An iTunes search later I was listening to a podcast explaining what is now the cornerstone of my personal ethics: the non-aggression principle.
Like so many libertarians before me, I learned about the fact that laws are opinions with a gun, that unencumbered human action in entrepreneurship and science was the cause for prosperity, and that government was not there to protect me; quite the opposite. Going down that never-ending rabbit hole was an intense journey of disorientation, as one firmly held belief after another was exposed as a socially conditioned illusion I had fallen victim to; and the journey continues to this day.
But now that I knew all of this, what was I to do about it?
Deciding what to do had been the result of one year alternating between intellectual exhilaration (when learning something new) and extreme bouts of depression (upon realizing the implications). It took me six more months to follow through on my commitment. On the 26th of September 2014, with €2,000 in my bank account and a gold medal in my hand, I boarded a plane to Santiago, Chile, where I would spend the next two months at an entrepreneurship bootcamp.
What I Found
The eight weeks I spent at the bootcamp were the time when I felt the most alive up to that point in my life. I reflected deeply on the power of radical self-reliance with Emerson, stayed up long nights to code an Android app, and started businesses with some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. I lost and won some money, gained a great deal of experience, and in the process:
Started a consulting company;
Organized the world’s first space elevator bootcamp, “Copernicus,” in a castle in the Hungarian countryside, along with Ukrainian mind hackers, international students, and ambitious entrepreneurs; and
Organized Latin America’s first applied artificial intelligence conference with Silicon Valley experts in Santiago, Chile.
All of this was only possible because I was willing to leave behind the well-trodden path, was fortunate to work with trustworthy individuals with whom I shared basic values, and trusted enough in my ability to adapt and to put my money (and time and effort) where my mouth was.
Since I’ve taken that step it hasn’t gotten easier. But living a life of integrity doesn’t make all your problems disappear. If anything, it makes things more difficult, because as you start solving all the little problems you have, bigger ones emerge that were previously hidden.
But then again, isn’t that the only thing worth living for? In the end, what’s the point of saying, “F*** you,” to the world if you’re not going to do anything about the problems you criticize? I very much like this thought:
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
In my conversations with fellow freedom lovers over the past year, I’ve noticed an escalating urgency when talking about expatriation. Many of them are looking to go off the grid, both in literal and metaphorical terms. Indeed, a rather sizable market has developed over the last decade to sell easy solutions to libertarians looking to get out of Dodge. Knowing how bad the situation is, many are so desperate to satisfy their thirst for real freedom that, like travelers in a desert, they are happy to buy snake oil just to whet their palate.
However, solutions to difficult problems are always and ever either difficult or expensive – and often both. So if you understand that there are never easy solutions, what concretely can you do about taking that first step?
In any real change of basic patterns of life, the first step is recognizing that there is nothing in the external world that will make your problems go away. That part always has to come from within yourself.
The second (and much harder) step is taking that plunge and trusting yourself to handle whatever comes your way. You have to get out of your head and manifest your values in the real world in a meaningful way in order to make any progress. If all you do to call yourself a freedom lover is read blogs, comment on YouTube videos, and argue with your coworkers about their politics, you don’t really believe in the power of your ideas. Or you are simply not able to back out of commitments made to family or business partners.
Since making my fateful decision over a year ago, I have come full circle and am now the Hydra Program Manager at Exosphere*. The purpose of our meetings is the same as it has been:
To reflect deeply on the most fundamental principles of living a good life through solving your own and other people’s problems;
To learn the ins and outs of building and running a business and take the first real steps to get it up and running;
To understand and work with several emerging technologies, including virtual reality, drones, biohacking, and 3D printing; and
To meet international experts in entrepreneurship, science, and technology.
We only accept people who understand that we don’t have all the answers for them. What we do is offer an environment far away from home where you can focus on building the foundational habits, honing your skills and discipline, and acquiring the network you need to succeed in the long run. Because success is a matter of surviving long enough to get lucky. (And luck can be engineered.)
I will leave you with a quote from the post I made the night before my departure from Germany:
My beliefs are simple – yet hard to uphold in a society demanding I cheer for violence. My beliefs are principled – yet no one cares to listen for fear of being a radical. My beliefs are rooted in reality – yet everyone decries me as utopian. My beliefs carry deep emotion – yet I am perceived as uncaring and cold.
Such is the nature of a sick society. Lies are truth, violence is love, sociopathy is leadership, and most important of all, slavery is freedom.
I vow hereby to myself and everyone who cares to know:
I will live to know truth, experience love, achieve meaning, accumulate wisdom, produce value, speak honestly, act virtuously.
*Moritz’s Hydra Bootcamp will be held at the Exosphere project headquarters, just off the beach in Viña del Mar, Chile. The camp runs for eight weeks.
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