Meet “The Man Who Quit Money” on Tuesday, April 3, at the library …
Where you’ve been, physically and emotionally, is what shapes you in the moment. And at this very moment, a man from Moab has honed his existence into a freedom that almost no one else will ever truly taste. The man is moneyless but rich, rootless but grounded. The man is Daniel Suelo and author Mark Sundeen has brought him into the reading person’s consciousness in “The Man Who Quit Money.” In 2000, Suelo left the last thirty bucks to his name in a phone booth and walked away. Twelve years later, he’s a 50-year old cave-dweller living on the outskirts of one of our favorite weekend getaways, foraging in fallow fields and dumpster diving to his belly’s content. Sundeen’s character study of this “American Sadhu” leads you on a trip of a trip, from a man’s evangelical roots to his physical tour of world religions, from depression and suicidal acts to the joy of owning one’s personal footprint. Within is a commentary on gaining independence from broken systems that manage currency, food, equality, sexuality, and salvation.
Suelo’s storied footsteps circle the globe but Colorado figures prominently. He was a student at CU Boulder in the 80s and currently has parents living in Fruita. Mom and Pop Shellabarger (his now unused surname) are staunchly religious idealists and have had their own critical journey within systematic belief in America. I might not agree with them on many a point but I do like them a lot, a credit to Sundeen for their appropriate inclusion as fruitful backstory. While at CU, Suelo connects with a professor who introduces him to liberation theology and looking at the less dominant features that nature and historical influences offer, like seeing not the sky but the eagle and embracing the Divine Feminine. And then there’s the Peace Corps in Ecuador, and coming out to his parents via letter (didn’t go well), the 14th amendment, and that night on the road up to Mt Evans that almost made this book non-existent. But I’ll let the guys cover all that on Tuesday.
This quick paperback read is by no means a how-to manual. Look at it as a how-come retrospective that led Ms. Eat Pray Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) to blurb it as, “… a beautiful, thoughtful, and wonderful book. I suspect I may find myself thinking about it every day for the rest of my life.” Rubbing up against societal norms can sometimes singe but the theoretical salve that Daniel applies is worth the burn.
Imagine, if just for a moment, not making or using money or credit … and come April 18th, you actually can. While writing this article, I got a Facebook invite from Sundeen to join Quit Money Day, slated for Wednesday, April 18: “April 17 is Tax Day, when we look back on a year of hours worked, salaries earned, and dollars spent. Never do we feel more entwined in the money system and its tentacle institutions of banks and government. Let’s imagine greater independence from that system, and for one entire day, on April 18, neither spend, borrow, nor lend a single cent.” (Personally, this will be all too easy as the bookstore will be closed then for the 2-week spring break for Telluride schools and I’ll be in the deep desert but spread the word anyway …)
I could go on for nearly forever about the book but prefer to leave you and Suelo side-by-side on the trail of this sweet epic, with Sundeen as your map app. Do yourself a favor, come by the bookstore and get a copy before next Tuesday’s discussion. This is by far one of the most interesting author/subject combos to appear in the Telluride valley so get your shift covered and/or hire a sitter. To round out the evening, we’ll head up the street afterwards for a cold one at The Last Dollar (get it?) and toast that beloved Free Box across the street. It is after all about taking only what you need and giving away the unnecessary excess. And then, we’ll toast the Free Man.
See you at the Library on Tuesday, April 3rd, at 7:30pm. Diehard lovers of words should show up at 6pm for Fruita-based poet Jack Mueller, April’s guest speaker for the Talking Gourds Poetry Series.
FYI: BTC will be closed April 8-22, opening again on April 23, aka Word Book Night. Have a fabulous off-season full of biking, boating, naps, and books.