The book chronicling this guy's graduate year spent living in a van is inspiring in the way that these books inspire. It's a great story about needs vs. wants and our consumerist society and how to forge your own path and make unpopular decisions.
Through his experience living in a van, he woke up to the type of person that he wants to be. "I didn’t need these things. The beer, the food or even the bed. I didn’t even really want them. I was buying stuff simply because I could afford it. If you put a man in a country club, he’ll feel the need for a yacht. But if you drop him in the wilderness, his desires will be only those essential to his survival. I had decided not to take out loans for graduate school in part because I knew that if I allowed myself access to easy money, I’d again fall victim to the consumerist trap. I’d be indiscreet with my money. I’d begin to pay for and rely on things I thought I needed but didn’t. I’d lose perspective. I didn’t want to once again be swallowed whole by the dominant culture, accepting its norms and values and desires as my own."
It's also riveting to me, personally, because it calls out the flaws in my justification for going into debt for so much schooling. I worked 60-80 hours a week during school, and I always say how taking on debt was necessary because I could not afford the tuition and living expenses -- but this guy proves me wrong. Maybe it was my lack of awareness at the time, but hopefully this guy's story will show people that extraordinary things can be accomplished with little to nothing. That we don't all have to live the consumerist ideal. That delayed gratification makes everything sweeter.
We might even find that if we are willing to get out of our comfort zone, we might just find a life worth truly living.
NYTimes Article -- Guy goes to graduate school while living in a van