Do You Treat Yourself Like A Loaf Of Bread?

Yes, I know that sounds like a very odd question, but it will become clear.

Think of a loaf of bread.

You are in a store, and you may look for a certain type of bread, and perhaps the brand and price.

You also may look for that small, flat plastic tag, which you use to keep the bag closed. It has a date (in the near future) printed on it. The “sell-by” expiration date.

You want the bread to be fresh, with a reasonable shelf-life remaining.

This new loaf has the full number of slices, with not only time remaining, but also many possibilities.

If you put some jam onto a slice, but then drop it on the floor, you can accept the small loss, because you still have many more slices left.

Many more second chances left.

You have many choices. Today, perhaps a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Tomorrow, grilled cheese with a slice of ham. The next day, toast with Vegemite.  You can make or change a decision on a whim.

You have still have chances to try something new, different, unfamiliar.

You could look for recipes for new sandwiches that you have never tried before, and expand your choices and your experiences. You could widen your horizons.

This new loaf of bread is dynamic, filled with possibilities, ambiguity, and positive change.

But, eventually, inevitably, that day arrives. The “sell-by” expiration date.

If the bread is still in the store, someone will remove it from the shelf, and get rid of it. No more value to the store.

That is because the customers don’t want it, either, and will look for a fresh loaf instead.

If it is already in your kitchen, you may become suspicious of it, and no longer want to eat it.

This date is an estimate of the point when the bread becomes much less appealing. Stale. Then mold appears, breaking down the bread and making it potentially dangerous to eat.

The physical form is still recognisable, and may last on for some time.

But the story is basically over.

No more second chances.

No more choices.

No more new horizons, possibilities, ambiguity, or positive change.

All that will happen from this time onward is gradual decay.

No matter how many slices remain, they will be wasted.

Unfortunately, many people view human life this way. They treat themselves, and others, like that loaf of bread, with a “sell-by” expiration date.

To be sure, we all really do have a final, individual expiration date, when we actually die in the medical sense, becoming food for microbes, insects, and worms.

However, I am talking about a concept of an expiration date that occurs long before one’s medical death.

“Accept reality and your lot in life.”

“Grow up and act like an adult.”

“Start being mature, responsible, and stable.”

“Settle down.”

“Give up.”

Another metaphor is the cooling-off condensation of matter. A child is like a gas, with changing shape and volume. An adolescent or young adult is like a liquid, still changing shape, but with a fixed volume.  The “settled down”, socially-legitimate adult is expected to be like a solid, and locked into a final, unchanging situation.

It could also be viewed as a script for a film or play, in which the story concludes, but the actors just sit there doing nothing more for the next hour.

Or it is like a checklist, with each box being ticked, in order. And each box is ticked exactly once.

Or a brief list of items could be written, with each item fixed, and no chance of ever changing them. Once a standardised list is complete, you are finished, no matter how many more years your body still has ahead.

Geographic Location: “Become a sessile life form, like a plant, anchored to one spot”.

Education Level: “Accept that the window of opportunity somehow closed in your youth, and school’s out forever”.

Job: “Slave away at the same routine, for the same wage, at the same business, for the rest of your working life”.

Values: “Buy into consumerism, weighing yourself down with possessions, debt, and socioeconomic comparisons to others”.

Relationships: “Be like a prisoner, handcuffed to a guard. Stay in close contact with your family of origin, even if it is toxic. Have a spouse and children, regardless of whether you actually want them or not”.

Peers: “Come on.  All the cool grown-ups are doing it.  You don’t want to be immature, irresponsible, unstable, different and uncool”.

If you’re like me, some people see the grey hair starting, or other symptoms of age, and they want that to be like the  small plastic tag on the loaf of bread. Expired. They want this for you, because they believe it about themselves.

Some people may have a general, vague age in mind. Some others may be specific, such as, “When you’re thirty years old, then you might be taken seriously as an adult, because you will have surrendered to this view, and ‘settled down’ into your final, fixed state”.

If you get past thirty, and still refuse to toe the line, they get their knickers in a twist.

It can be worse, to the point of being told that, my story was supposed to finish at eighteen – “You should have stayed in that small, impoverished rural town with your mother!  Going anywhere new, or doing anything new, or making your own choices, is immature, irresponsible, unrealistic, and dangerous!

As I wrote in my last post, most  people are utterly terrified of change, ambiguity, responsibility, solitude, and non-conformity.

Move to a new city?

Go to university as a “mature” student?

Get a new job (perhaps with that new degree, or perhaps something else)?

Be an unemployed bum for awhile?

Go even more minimalist, with fewer possessions than ever before?

Stay single and childfree?

Decide that you don’t like something about your life, and actually get up and change it?

Do all of this when you are well past the age of thirty? Or forty?

The fear is not just the one that prevents an individual from doing these things. That fear is also projected onto other people. This leads to denigrating those things as somehow violating the “true” meaning of adulthood.

There is a pervasive view that there are simply “rules” of adult life stating that, your life story is supposed to come to a halt at a relatively young age. You finish the script, tick all the boxes, complete the list, reach your “sell-by” expiration date.

Then spend the next few (or several) decades decaying like a moldy, expired loaf of bread.  An actor posing on the chaise lounge, doing nothing for the last half of the play.

This view is expressed, not only with interpersonal bullying, but also with employment discrimination and educational funding discrimination.

Just as I have experienced that pressure, I have also experienced the potential of embracing continued change, ambiguity, responsibility, solitude, and non-conformity.




Bum around a bit.


Appreciate personal freedom.

Get off the couch and change your situation.

I’ve done so at an age much older than many people find socially-acceptable, and done some of these things more than once.

The story is still in progress, and I expect it to continue for quite some time.

The tag with the “sell-by” expiration date is really a person’s own inertia and fear.

Take it or leave it. Believe it or don’t.

It isn’t some objective “rule”, or common sense, or legitimate adulthood.

It’s your own choice.

Your Fears – Protection? Or Prison?

Human beings naturally have sets of primal fears.

Aside from people with certain neurological conditions, almost everyone has all of these fears. The level of fear, and the behaviour based on it, have a wide range.

Some are quite physical, survival-oriented, and even hard-wired into our brains before birth. They are literally coded into our DNA, connected through our neurons, and sparked by biochemical reactions.




Objects rapidly approaching one’s eyeball.


Heights and falling a long distance.

An infant being abandoned by its mother.

Aggressive animals.

Confinement in small spaces, or restraint of movement.

Disgust at rotting food, or at faeces.


All of those fears evolved for survival.

Your ancestors who had these fears survived their dangerous environments, and passed those fears down to you.


However, there are other fears, which many people treat as if they were on that same level. They will avoid these things at all costs. But, in doing so, they actually reduce their potential, and narrow their horizons.

If these people see you embracing these things, they will become condescending, accusing you of lacking common sense. Or they may become openly hostile.

What do so many people fear?









None of those things are automatically bad or dangerous. But many people view them as if they were.

Yes, you should be mindful, examine the situation, and carefully choose your actions. But, trying to avoid these things (as if they were threats to your survival) can have a very negative impact on you.

It is natural and normal to feel some stress or anxiety about these things. But learning to move through that, and embrace them gracefully, can improve your life greatly.

The next time you feel fear, calm down and ask yourself, is it really about a threat? Or is it about an opportunity to grow and expand your horizons?

Getting Started And Taking Stock

For this first blog post, it seemed appropriate to talk about a first step on a journey towards freedom. “Towards” is important, because you can always keep moving, and do not need a fixed destination, and you don’t need to get there immediately.

First, you need to figure out where you are now.

A basic freedom factor is your approach to material possessions.

Possessions can be minimal necessities, for survival. They can be tools. They can enhance your enjoyment of life.

But they can also weigh you down. The sheer physical burden of your “stuff” can reduce your freedom, limit your options, narrow your horizons.

Your “stuff” may feel like wealth. But you must pay to buy it. Pay to repair or replace it. Pay to store it. Pay to move it.

Not only do you pay in money, but you also pay in time, energy, mental worry.

To know where you stand, you need an inventory.

This is a middle ground. You don’t need an exact list of every item you own, but you also don’t want one big “miscellaneous” category.

Get in touch with your stuff, and how it affects your freedom, and your future.

There are choices with your inventory, but you don’t need to think so hard that you procrastinate. You also don’t need to write it all in one session. The main thing is to start.

Your inventory can be anything from a paper-and-pencil list, to a complex database.

I currently just use a simple spreadsheet document. This works with Excel, or with Open Office.

Let’s go along from left to right.



The Item field can be a single item, if you have just that one copy. For example, one printer, or one jacket.

An item with multiple copies can be a on single line. For example, I have five identical t-shirts, so that is just one line. Seven identical turtlenecks go together on another line.

The Item field can cover a few related items, that can all go together in one small physical box. For example, a box of desk supplies, or a box of computer cables, or a box of financial records. Just make sure that it is a reasonable unit, that can pack into one physical container.

The items for this inventory are semi-permanent things in your life. You don’t need to count any consumables, like food, toilet paper, etc.



Next, use categories. Some possibilities are:







Records / Archives



Come up with your own categories, but try to avoid “Miscellaneous”.



This is just a few words of description, like colour, quantity (for multiples), make/model, and so forth. In some cases, you might include price and date purchased, so you understand your investment.


Next, we have some fields more relevant to your freedom. Specifically, your Personal Geography.



Let’s define “local” as being the longest distance that you would be willing or able to do a daily commute from your residence, to a job or to university. If you could keep the same job or school situation after moving, then that is local.

This can be influenced by whether you have access to a car, or are relying on public transport, or are paying for help.

Even a short distance move could be fairly expensive, if you took a house-full of large, heavy items. It can also be fairly time-consuming and stressful.

My own “local” moves have ranged from a couple of blocks down the street, up to about 50 kilometres (or 30 miles).

This category is where we get into how much you value this “stuff”.

Is this item worth the hassle and expense of moving it across town?

When you are looking for a new apartment, does your “stuff” require a bigger place, with higher rent?

Has this item been stashed in the back of the closet in your old apartment for a few years, without being used? Are you going to endure hassle and expense to move it, and then stash it, still never used, in your new place?

You don’t need any final decisions until you actually move. But it is important to at least get an idea of this now.

For my own Freedom, I have decided that, “Move Local” shall be limited to an amount that I can shift in a single day, with a maximum of two taxicab rides. But I am working on even less hassle and expense than that. With a car, I would still limit it to two trips.

Your mileage (and Freedom) may vary. Your Freedom, Your Choices.



The expense and hassle are much, much greater when you move to a new city.

My own City moves have ranged from about 150 kilometres (or 90 miles), by bus, to much longer distances with a car, all the way to an intercontinental move with airplane luggage plus boxes of “stuff” shipped by Postal Service.

For my own Freedom, I have decided that, “Move City” shall be limited to an amount that I can take in luggage for a single trip, via bus, train, or airplane. Even with a car, I would stay with a similar amount, to avoid being overloaded.

Your mileage (and Freedom) may vary. Your Freedom, Your Choices.



This category relates to information.

A beautiful thing about the modern computer age is that, a large, heavy box of papers, can be converted into small, light data on a computer disk or hard drive.

I still have some old paper documents, so those boxes go onto my inventory.

The Archive plan is to organise and scan these into electronic format. They will go onto disk, and I will shred the originals.

I will talk more about scanning in a future article.



This category is more immediate.

It is about that “stuff” that you haven’t used in awhile. “Stuff” in the back of the closet, on the shelf, in the kitchen cupboard, in the garage, etc.

On your inventory, this field just gets a “Yes”, “No”, or “?”

The boxes of old clothing, or kitchen utensils, or school lecture notes, and so forth. Each box of this “stuff” gets a line on the inventory.

Culling means sorting through unused “stuff” with the aim simply throw out anything that is of zero use to you, personally.

“Yes” in this field means that your plan is to sort through, physically touch, and really consider if you would be more free just tossing this item now.



This relates to “CULL”.

Some items are seasonal, like clothing, or sports gear. You can go months without using it, but then, it becomes a daily item.

If you are not sure about something (whether clothing or any other item), see if you can remember the last time you used it.

Or, for long term, stick a label on it, and note in this field of your inventory, with the date that you last used the item.

Is this item seasonal, like clothing that you would only wear in the winter?

Or is this item something that you bring out every couple of months?

Or is this item something that you haven’t used for years and years, just stashed in the closet? Taking up space, and hassle/expense when you move it?



This category does NOT mean, “Stuff I WANT to put into storage, and pay lots of money and hassle to keep there”.

This is about any storage situation that you already have.

This can be about a self-storage unit that you are already renting.

This can be about those boxes you stashed in a friend’s garage, the last time you Moved City.

Storage (especially paid storage) can last on and on. It can cost a lot in money, hassle, and worry. It can become a trap.

You need to inventory everything in your storage space, and think about whether it is worth the money and hassle. Include every box and item on your inventory.

I will talk about storage more in a future post.


You don’t need to do this project completely or perfectly right now. As with this blog, the important thing is to just get started. Hopefully, you will feel the same sense of progress that I feel now.