The following is an excerpt from Possum Living: Living Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money by Dolly Freed (Tin House Books, 2010). Originally published in the late 1970s when Freed was 18 years old, Possum Living is part philosophical treatise, part down-to-earth how-to, and provides a no-nonsense approach on how to beat the system and be self-sufficient — right in suburbia. The new, updated edition includes fresh reflections, insights and life lessons from an older and wiser Dolly Freed. This excerpt is from Chapter 1, “We Quit the Rat Race,” and Chapter 4, “We Rassle With Our Consciences.”
Do you remember the story of Diogenes, the ancient Athenian crackpot? He was the one who gave away all his possessions because “People don’t own possessions, their possessions own them.” He had a drinking cup, but when he saw a child scoop up water by hand, he threw the cup away. To beat the housing crunch, he set up an abandoned wine barrel in a public park and lived in that.