The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)
Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a minimalist,” divesting ourselves of the chains that keep us from letting go of the stresses of modern life, is unimaginable.
In this compelling book, Mike Blue recounts his unique journey into experiencing a joyful and fulfilling existence, free of a daily work grind, reveling in the wonder of the natural world, and taking time to cherish and preserve the over-burdened planet, Earth.
The Anatomy of Escape details the stages by which Blue planned and executed his minimalist existence, which was not an easy accomplishment. In fact, Blue informs us of the failures that he experienced before his present escape. Through a careful analysis of why his former plans didn't succeed, Blue comes to understand why those ideas failed and what he needed to change moving forward.
How I came upon Blue's book is an interesting saga in itself. About two months ago, I received an intriguing e-mail from Mike, telling me that he had just read my retro-review on In Cold Blood, and wondered if I would consider reading and reviewing his book. He also informed me that he was living currently in Indonesia, which blew me away. Imagine, the TAPinto online papers have reached all the way around the globe to Asia!
Mike and I struck up a positive correspondence, through which I had the unique experience of being able to converse with the author as I read The Anatomy of Escape. Being able to discuss the author's ideas and point of view directly while enjoying the book helped me to respect Mike's intelligence and philosophy on life. I agreed with many of his ideas, particularly on global preservation, but it is difficult to imagine myself leaving the life I am used to having.
However, and this is the key point in digesting Blue's message; one doesn't necessarily have to follow his path precisely to live a better life. In becoming a minimalist, Blue has divested himself of most of his personal belongings. He explains the painful process of beginning to weed out his possessions, giving away many of his things, and whittling down until he now owns 40 items, including his shoes as two of them. In moving forward, Blue suggests that there are many ways in which a person can creatively find things that s/he may need along the way. Bartering services, borrowing, scavenging, and creating items out of refuse are some of the ways in which Blue has lived since he embarked on his journey. By following these suggestions, people can avoid unnecessary consumerism, with so much of what we buy ending up in mountains of trash.
I purchased The Anatomy of Escape on Amazon for the minimal cost of $2.99, certainly a bargain as this is a book to which I will refer often. The good news is that Blue is a talented author; he weaves in his fascinating encounters with the engaging people he has met on his travels to Indonesia, where his home and transportation are the old school bus named Rosie. Occasionally Blue has abandoned Rosie for a time and taken trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and much of South America, where has has moved since his first e-mail to me.
The structure of the book is well-planned and keeps the reader's interest throughout. The book is divided into five sections including: Escape, Escape Preparations, A Good Life, Ritualise Health, and Prosper as a Frugal Minimalist. In each section Blue explains the essentials of a plan to leave the common working life and travel unencumbered, being able to catch the waves at sunrise on spectacular beaches, and hike through forests filled with Nature's most alluring plants and animals. Most importantly, Blue explains, he has the gift of time to appreciate Nature in her fullest capacity, and even enjoy refreshing naps without the guilt of taking time away from the trappings of a work-bound existence.
Before venturing into the minimalist life-style, Blue explains that a detailed escape plan, including the figuring of how much money one will need to satisfy the absolute needs, such as food, shelter, and medical costs if necessary. The minimalist also has to calculate how to bring in some income while on the journey. For example, Blue, a native Australian, trades English lessons to make money along the way.
Along Blue's journey, he honed his diet as well and became healthier and thinner. His favorite foods are eggs and sardines, but he takes great joy in the rituals of cooking with friends. One of his favorite recipes is gathering vegetables from local markets, adding savory spices to them, and stewing all of this in a single pot for hours. The food is healthy, nutritious, inexpensive, and delicious. An added benefit is that only one vessel is needed to cook the meal.
Mike Blue is a 45 year old man, unencumbered by either wife or children. Obviously, the escapist lifestyle of surfing for hours, moving when desired, and owning 40 items is not something that most of us can do.
Here is the but BUT, though, and why I believe that everyone can benefit from reading The Anatomy of Escape. Even if one doesn't plan to abandon life as s/he knows it, Blue's simple suggestions for breaking away from the chain of Work-Consume-Die can be adapted to living a better life-style, saving money, reducing clutter, being healthier, and appreciating and protecting our planet.
I have told Mike that he now comes with me on my shopping ventures on a regular basis. Thinking about him stopped me from an unnecessary stop into a local thrift stop recently. “I don't need to buy more stuff,” I reasoned. “Go home and work in the garden instead.”
Mike Blue is a wise and thoughtful man, a modern version of Henry David Thoreau. His voice comes at a time when we all could exercise some restraint and cherish time with family and friends.
In closing, The Anatomy of Escape, is Blue's second book. His first, entitled The Consumption Cleanse, “is a “no-nonsense, research-referenced, and achievable roadmap to the mindful consumption of food and beverages.” Blue puts forth a plan whereby giving up 13 habits in consumption helps gain a better, healthier life in his first book.
Blue can be reached through the following sites as well: https://thelifeadrift.com,