Temporary Retirement Story Sparks Spurn and Vitriol By Non-Believers

Why is it that no matter how much you show some people how to get free of the shackles of a traditional, debt-laden consumer existence, the more they lash back with every excuse about why they think it can’t be done?

Today on NPR’s Morning Edition, a great story about one family’s sabbatical sparked a fascinatingly tragic debate between those of us who know and believe living outside convention can be done, and those tragic individuals who won’t open their minds enough to understand that yes, anyone can do this.

Seeing The (Northern) Light: A Temporary Arctic Retirement,” spotlights one family’s journey into a year of simplicity while living on a small Norwegian island.

“For us, this was not an escape. We really liked our lives. But we still wanted a year where we could just do something completely different,” said Kristen Chen.

NPR tells about their year in the Arctic Circle better than I can. Listen to the story here to see how they did it, then scroll down to the comments and be prepared for the assumptions, hostility and accusations that listeners threw at this extraordinary family.

“Wonderful idea…and then I got depressed. Unfortunately, most of us that would greatly benefit from this kind of life enhancement can not possibly afford to escape from the cycle of bills that is our life. I couldn’t afford to take off a month, much less a year.”

“Mr. Chen ,you’re are being dingenuous. According to this story, you have a “well paying” career which affords you a privlige not many others have. In fact this whole piece smacks of NPR’s selling out top economic elites”

“I love this story but the truth is most people cannot do this. I don’t own a home nor do I have credit cards, but I highly doubt the good people at Sallie Mae would let me take a year off from paying on my student loans. Still, it is a nice idea for someday!”

“Very unusual. It’s a shame this sort of thing is within the reach only of the fairly well educated and well off. I can’t see your average auto mechanic or sales clerk doing this.”

This sounds too familiar to us. People make assumptions about Jim and I all the time. When they see us working from our laptops while sitting in a hammock, they assume we’re rich. But if they see us while we’re workamping at the dude ranch like we are now, they assume we’re broke and have to do it. If only they would stop assuming and ask us how we live so freely, they’d see there is another, better way to live than how we’ve been taught all our lives.

When you dream of having a new, different way of life, what are some of the assumptions you make?


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