Monday, November 17, 2008

LET'S START A REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!


[Photo: lucies.files.worldpress.com]

How about it, my dear reader? Do you feel like starting a little revolution? I’ve got nothing better to do and I figured it might be fun. :)

WHAT ARE WE REBELLING AGAINST?

So, what are we rebelling against, you ask? Materialism. Consumerism. Apathy. Injustice. The feeling that all the problems we face are impossible to solve. And, above all, our irrational reluctance to love our fellow man.

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO OFFER?

If you are on board, then I think the operative question becomes: what can we offer to this revolution? More to the point, what do we possess that might prove useful to changing our world? Some people bring their own particular strengths to bear when it comes to overthrowing the old order. Lenin had an overpowering intellect and a ruthless purpose of mind. Margaret Thatcher had experience, intelligence and a charm all her own. Clinton was the consummate technocrat. As for myself, at this point in my life, I just don’t have a fully-defined world view and/or the real-life experience that could prove useful in a revolution. Give me some time and maybe I will get there. For now, all I can contribute is this:

FIRST LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!

I always wanted to be in the Sopranos:

I am leaving my law firm. Maybe I should consider a career at Chip ‘n Dales:


[IMAGE DELETED BY AUTHOR]

Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself:

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let’s start plotting our revolution!

THE PLOT

The plot is actually fairly straightforward: give away a sizable amount of money I don’t really need to random people. Here are the basics:

*Stuff blank envelopes with bills of random denominations.

*Include a note with the following narrative:

“To the person who finds this envelope,

I am a person who has enough. Take this money and use it as you wish. In return, I hope you can search within yourself and realize that all that matters in life is love. So, call your family. Help a friend. Lend a stranger a hand. In the end, all we have is each other.”

*Drop off the envelopes at random and not so random locations throughout the East Coast.

*Separately, send anonymous donations to (1) a variety of organizations and non-profits I support; as well as (2) certain bloggers chosen at random.

* Hope that in some small measure, these hundreds of random, anonymous, convention-upending acts of social rebellion spark something meaningful and essential in the collective unconscious of our world.

Unrealistic? Probably. Idealistic? Absolutely.

I CHALLENGE YOU

Why don’t YOU get in on the fun? I challenge you, my dear reader, to take the time this very day to express your love and kindness to (1) someone you care about, as well as (2) a total stranger. There are sooo many things you can choose from:

*Hug your kids and tell them you love them

*Call your grandparents

*Help a friend move

*Sign up to volunteer

*Donate to a local charity

The list is endless. If you take up this challenge do let me know what awesome, SIMPLE, things you decided to do.

Spread the word. Remember: a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.

ANTICIPATING QUESTIONS/COMMENTS

After the whole diploma burning thing, I came to the conclusion that it is a good idea to provide added context when it comes to some of my posts. I am still amazed how normal, rational people can have such intense, knee-jerk reactions to anything that appears out of the ordinary (have you seen some of the comments left on YouTube? Woa…). This time, I figured I would anticipate some of the questions/comments people might have. Here you go:

Come on, Jack, you must be insane!

Maybe a little. :)

If one of the prerequisites for insanity is the inability to reason then I think I’m in the clear. This didn’t happen out of the blue. I thought long and hard about how to do this the right way. I searched within myself to figure out what I want out of life, the kind of life I want to live and the kind of world I want to leave our children. I made a detailed budget that was realistic and incorporated contingencies, changing needs, and everything else that I felt I would need to live a simple, yet meaningful life for ME. After I finalized the budget I realized there was some money left over. This posed a quandary. Extra money meant that I had the following options: (1) leave the money in the bank to collect interest; (2) upgrade my lifestyle; or (3) give the money away. Leaving the money in the bank is certainly an attractive option, but I fail to see the point of keeping money stashed away for no reason. As for upgrading my lifestyle, that makes absolutely no sense to me. The budget I came up with, by definition, represents an opportunity to live the life I want to live without the need for anything but a steady, meaningful, super-low-paying job.

What’s crazier? Giving away money you don’t need OR voluntarily upgrading your lifestyle so that you are forced to spend MORE money, in order to have MORE stuff that would actually mean MORE headaches for myself and my family and putting MORE strain on our natural resources? I’ll let you, my dear reader, be the judge.

If people will find the money randomly, how can you be sure that people who need the money will actually get it?

I am, in fact, leaving some envelopes at certain targeted locations (missions, churches, shelters, etc…). Beyond that, I want to make something very clear: the focus of the Giveaway is NOT about giving people charity. My hope is that hundreds of small but meaningful surprises can lead to hundreds or even thousands of selfless, loving acts of kindness. The person who has nothing and finds an envelope with $50 dollars will, indeed, be ecstatic. The person who actually has something and finds an envelope with $20 dollars may be moved to give away $100 to several people who have nothing.

Why can’t you just give the money to family?

I’ve already made certain arrangements, particularly with respect to my mom. The budget I came up with takes this into account.

But, wait, if you are just giving cash away anonymously aren’t you missing out on 501.(c)(3)-type tax deductions?

Yeah. On the other hand, I’ve reviewed my tax situation for this year and as it turns out it will probably be a wash: I won’t owe anything AND will not be getting much of a refund. Ergo, declaring a charitable contribution won’t help me much. Besides, there is something about giving stuff away anonymously that may be lost if I had to declare it on my taxes.

Jack, you are nothing but a crazy lefty-hippie!

Far from it. I think most people would be surprised if they knew my political leanings. On the other hand, for any of you bona fide hippies out there keep in mind that I’m partial to free love and rock and roll. Specially the free love part…[Hint, Hint!].

[IMAGE DELETED BY AUTHOR]

STATUS

As of today, the plot has essentially come to fruition. Only a couple of dozen more envelopes left to drop off. Expect additional pics and video later this week.

94 comments:

Amanda said...

I love it! About a year ago my sister and I were in line at our natural foods co-op when suddenly two co-op employees ran up with a $10 bill and said they wanted to apply it to our tab. They were giggling pretty intensely and wouldn't say why they wanted to do it, and then ran off. To this day I have no idea what their purpose was, but was absolutely charmed by that moment.

Good for you!

Daizy said...

Jack's stimulus program will probably be more effective than the government's. Technically, since my renters haven't paid me for November, I am giving a struggling family free shelter. Does that count as 'giving'?

I hope you never lose your enthusiasm Jack! (and who took the picture of you in the bathtub?)

Sub Girl said...

Viva la Voluntary Simplicity!!

Joyce said...

It's interesting how only women have commented on your post so far (still early, I guess?). Well, here's another comment!

I really am amazed by your generosity. To see someone doing what you're doing really inspires me, and I'm glad that you're taking this chance to help others out. It has a bit of that Pay It Forward feel to it, too. :) No matter what negative things people may say, you've got plenty of people who will back you up! (Even if they don't say so in your comments.)

Jerry Critter said...

Jack, you never cease to amaze me. You are either a terrific fiction writer, or a truly giving person. Since you are a big-time law firm lawyer, I would tend to lean towards the former. But I get a sense of real honesty in your writing so I think it is the later.

I think it is a great idea, although I am not sure I am a secure enough person to do it myself.

-jd said...

Someone said Revolution? Where's my gun?! *I don't actually have a gun, but if I did, I would grab it and storm off to be a part of le revolucion.

Oh...Dana brought me back inside...it's not that type of revolution.

Nice work, Jack. I'm sure you will bring smiles to the faces of many...which is what it's all about.

-jd
spendingtimeundertrees.blogspot.com

Jill said...

I, for one, think it's an awesome crazy idea. I think you will inspire people, who will in turn inspire people.

I don't have pockets full of cash, but I will think of a way to join you.

louise said...

wonderful!
many years ago I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at the same B&B as the man who started Random Acts of Kindness in Australia at a time when it was just an idea he talked about non stop, now everyone has heard of it! your post reminded me of his enthusiasm and optimism that small changes can have a big impact.

Jack said...

Amanda,

Sounds like fellow rebels to me. Nothing wrong with messing with the system once in a while. :)

Daizy,

calling it a 'stimulus program' is definitely the funniest take on this to date.

Sub girl,

Right on!

Jack said...

Joyce,

Definitely a connection with the pay it forward folks. A good idea if I've ever heard one. Thanks.

Jerry,

Always nice to hear from you. And believe me, I would hope I am the former, specially once this whole simplification process is over.

JD,

Thanks! We can use all hands on deck.

FaerieMama said...

As Shakespeare said, " O wonderful, wonderful and yet again wonderful" ( yup, he really did say that, in As You Like It) Anyway, I just wanted to say that you MADE MY DAY with that post. I have done the very thing you are doing...THE EXACT SAME THING....though, being an educator by trade, the envolopes were only filled with twenty dollar bills..lol. But I wrote a note very much along the lines YOU did!
I still wonder about the people who found the envelopes. Being kind of a spiritual kind of gal, I also prayed REALLY HARD beforehand that people who truly needed a boost found them. It realy was scary trusting it would end up in the right hands. Are you finding that? Anyway, you have inspired me to do it again! I get my next paycheck in 2 weeks, and I'm going to do it, but THIS time involve my daughter :) I hope a million people read your blog and I see envelopes all over the place in the coming weeks! THANK YOU for inspiring me :)

Kandice said...

Jack-

All I can say is, you rock! I what you're doing. I'm almost ashamed to say that I really like the tile in your bathroom, too. I know you won't be lounging in that tub for much longer, but the tile sure is pretty. Living a life of simplicity doesn't mean you can't stop and notice pretty tile, right?

If you want to join me on my trip to Cameroon, West Africa next April to work in a vision clinic and deliver malaria nets to remote villages, let me know. Everyone pays their own way (it costs about $3,000 for airfare and vaccinations,etc.), but it promises to be a life changing experience. One malaria net costs $10 and can save the lives of a family of 4. That's $2.50 per human life. Think about it. We'll also take used glasses and sunglasses. They will come in handy in the vision clinic.

Hats off to you, Jack.

Family on Bikes said...

I think we have been the recipients of your revolution!! Since John and Daryl got in their bike accident last Friday, we've had people by the droves coming out of the woodwork to help us out - in lots and lots of small ways.

Thanks for doing this Jack - you'll never know how far-reaching your efforts will go.

Nancy
www.familyonbikes.org

Entelle said...

Awesome. Bash on to the life simply. Careful tho, too much of this giving and downgrading, and you will spontaniously smell like patchouli.

three moons said...

I get that a lot, "your so idealistic!!" Yeah. I am. Because otherwise I would be fucking miserable, lol.

This kind of reminds me of a website i saw awhile back (except the money part)

http://www.hoperevo.com/

Carolyn said...

What a super fantastic idea. Especially at this time of year. I can imagine the surprise, shock, wonder and relief that the recipients feel. And the feeling that you helped must be awesome too.

P. S. I like those Chip N Dales pictures :)

Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Love it! I think it's awesome what you're doing. Like one of the previous commentors I'll be joining you in the revolution it will just have to be more like volunteering or giving blood. :) Keep your enthusiasm it's so awesome to read your blog and hear someone mirror my thoughts.

Miles To Go Before I Sleep...... said...

Joining in the revolution has always been in my nature :-)

I used to co-run a local food pantry in the "scary" neighborhood here in town... Maybe it's time I start getting back into that revolution... it was amazing when my frind Sarah and I took it upon ourselves to get hundreds of dollars in donations and put together some 30 HUGE thanksgiving packages for families in need... it was even more amazing to hear them say thank you from the bottom of their hearts...

And it's quite simple to do as well... only takes a part of time that most people would have spent sitting in front of their TV's and lounging around the house...

kudos jack...
stay tuned! I'm almost positive we'll return the favor in some way :-)

Hugs,
Dana

bill h said...

"Viva La Revolution"

Previously the coolest revolution I knew of was the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, its name inspired by the Velvet Underground, and its motto: "Truth and love will win over lies and hatred."

I love this idea. It's 7:00 here in Dallas, already at my office. I just went on Amazon and ordered a book I discussed with a friend, whose nearing retirement about how to make the translation to significant contribution post retirement. You inspired me Jack. Way to go.

I'll have to figure out the random act of kindness to a stranger.

teresa said...

Jack, Its fantastic! I do think a more even spread of the wealth in America would be better. Perhaps more people who are rolling in money will do the same. I live modestly and am struggeling to do that, but I can continue to give away most of my belongings. God knows I given away a lot of my time in volunteering. People like you who choose to live modestly, regardless of their income should be the lucky ones to have high paying but meaningful jobs. Perhaps consider putting some into a high interest savings account so you can continue giving in the future.
Teresa
http://sailingsimplicity.com

Jack said...

Jill,

That's definitely the idea. Ummm...maybe you can dedicate one bike ride this fall to this. Imagine how many of your readers would be inspired. On the other hand Jill, I have a feeling some of your pics have that affect on a daily basis.

Louise,

Loved the idea. I don't think I totally ripped off the idea, but I definitely borrowed heavily.

Faeriemama,

Well, I am glad I am not the only one! On the other hand, it doesn't necessarily have to involve cash. Maybe you could give classes at a local center?? And yes, I am hoping people who find it actually really need it, though it should be much bigger than that (see commentary towards the end of the post).

Craigers said...

Good for you Jack,

If this world had more people like you, we may not be in the situation that we're in. Ever think about bailing out the auto industry? I am inspired to do more for my fellow man. As I don't have much money or material things as it is, I will likely donate of my time to more organizations and more importantly ,just people that need a helping hand. Thanks for what you're doing and your writing about it.

Jack said...

Kandice,

It is such nice tile. :)

I've heard of that program. I think there was something on discovery channel last year. See, something so simple can have such a huge impact! And thanks for the offer. I may be somewhere else in the world at the time, but let me know how it goes.

Family on bikes,

Yes, I read about that. I really feel that people are generally good and fair. It takes something as horrible as a bike accident to get everyone out of the woodwork, but they eventually show their basic decency. Here's hoping you guys get on your way soon.

Entelle,

Way ahead of you!

Kandice said...

To Jack's Readers:

I just wanted to add that for anyone reading who wants to go on a mission trip to Africa or other international mission, contact your local church. Most larger churches have trips scheduled for one reason or another. There are also other non-church affiliated groups that organize trips.

For example, the trip I'm going on is through my church and there are about 20 people on the team. If anyone wants to join in the efforts, you can! You can help on the ground in the US or join the team that gets on the plane (pending space availability).

Here's to being revolutionary! You all are an inspiration!

Jack said...

Three moons,

Interesting web site. It sort of feels that people like us never really reinvent the wheel. Every year there are many people that have moments of clarity. I just hope there are many more to come.

Carolyn,

Thanks! And yes, maybe a change in career is in order.

Anonymous,

Precisely. It's not about giving money. It's about contributing anything you have of value.

Jack said...

Dana,

I know you will. That sounds like the right way to go. The more the merrier!

Bill,

I also dug the velvet revolution but in truth I dig revolutions in general. Always good to start anew, bring in new ideas and energy. I have a feeling you would be a part of one regardless.

Teresa,

Yeah, I thought about the investment option, but I did want to get rid of the cash ASAP. For some reason, it was burning a hole in my pocket and I couldn't wait for the compounding, even if it made all the logical sense in the world.

FaerieMama said...

Jack and everyone leaving comments,

Sorry! I HAD to post again and say that just reading all these comments are re-inspiring me! It is so freaking wonderful to know there are so many other people out there trying to make a difference and having fun while they're at it.
You've inspired me to start posting on my blog about creative ways I've found to do so. I just feel so empowered and on fire today, and it is waaay cold outside, so I appreciate the fire from all of you :) have a great day everybody, and Jack, I wish I could have a parade for you right now :)

EJ said...

My all time favorite bumper sticker:
Commit random acts of kindness

LiLu said...

That is so freaking cool. I am, unfortunately, broke as all hell, but I love to surprise a good server with a kickass 50% tip every now and then. I know it will make their night, and they'll pay it forward.

Jack said...

Craigers,

Are you kidding? Thank YOU. Just go out and do what you can to spread the psychic wealth. So long as someone feels loved...that's all that matters.


Kandice,

Thanks for the repost. That is definitely a worthy plug.

Faeriemama,

Sweet! Looks like the excitement is building. Do what you can with what you have. That's what's important.

Jennoit said...

Really fucking cool, Jack. I too will join you in some way. I have to think on this a bit, but I will.

Katrina (The Urban Minimalist) said...

Awesome idea! I like the pic of the bills on you too. lo. But this is a great way for all of us to share what we have. There are alot of people I feel that feel they want to help others, but just don't know how or may feel that they don't have enough to make a difference, but these ideas are sure winners. I know I will try them, and if all of us who can do so do these things, we will make a difference.

Just Roaming The Cities said...

very cool idea! (Just tell me where you're about to leave one, and I'll stop by...haha.)
I hope someone who really needs one finds them.
Around Christmas that might be me!

Anonymous said...

Jack:
Just how much money did you give away? Can you give us some perspective in relation to your other assets? Different question: Have you also found a need to simplify relationships? Ie. trim down the number or acquiantances and friends who demand things of you?

Miss Scorpio said...

Jack, you cease to amaze me!

Now that your next phase has sunk in with me, I'm just disappointed I wasn't able to assist with the appropriate placement of bills within your pockets, etc. ;)

k said...

Last week, the woman behind me in the store had diapers and i saw her counting her change to try and afford them. I said, "Let me get these." and added them to my bill.
It was only $15 dollars but she hugged me so tight.
i hope the opportunity to help comes again soon.

Jack said...

EJ

It's one of mine as well.

Lilu,

Thanks. Now, just be careful getting home next time you go partying.

Jennoit,

Awesome. Just let me know what you eventually decided.

Jack said...

Katrina,

I feel the same way. Let's definitely meet up next time I'm in NY.

Just roaming,

You know, I almost held off until christmas, but decided not to. Why wait.

Anonymous,

Umm, the house aside, it's probably going to end up to be about 40% of my assets. And no, not yet. Haven't felt a need as of yet. But that's an interesting issue. Probably should be the subject of another post.

molly said...

I'm in! Love the idea. Hope you don't mind but took your envelope idea, printed out the address to the person who finds it, tucked it in with the money and am ready to deliver 5 envelopes this week!

Simply an amazing idea!

Blessings:)

The Executioner said...

I have a debt elimination project. If you want to make a donation toward my own quest for simplicity, I wouldn't mind one of those envelopes coming my way. ;)

Yeah, I'm not too proud to beg.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

good for you! and how fun! I love stuff like this - random giving or random acts of kindness or regular volunteering - though I have never left a note with the money. Now there's a good idea. Anyway, it is much more fulfilling than shopping. :)

Marissa said...

That shit is tight. In fact, this is definitional of tight shit. For serious.

PleaseRecycle said...

What a wonderful, positive, gesture!! You know the people who find the $ will be happy, whether they need it or not. And happy people are so much more fun to be around!!

Last year I found an unmarked envelope full of money (~ $3K) at the grocery store. After a day, the person who lost it claimed it and gave me a $500 "reward." Our local food bank got a larger than usual donation soon after.

Because of my daughter's cancer treatment, we are now on the receiving end- some charities helping out with prescriptions, copays, etc. We are keeping track of every penny and plan to pay those charities back at least double when we are in the position to do so. In the meantime, we donate blood and joined the national marrow registry.

Sometimes happiness triumphs:
Parking Meter Clown

RW said...

you should check out kerismith.com - you will find a kindred spirit.

Anonymous said...

You wrote that people asked "Jack, Are you insane?"

Well, I always heard that the definition of insanity was "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". You, my new hero, are not insane - this is DEFINITELY not the "same thing." Bravo!

Rock on!

JB

Jack said...

Miss scorpio,

definitely taking that as a compliment...

K,

That's the idea. And the best part is that it doesn't have to involve money.

Molly,

Why would I mind? I say the more the merrier! Let me know how it turns out.

The executioner,

Sadly, all the cash allocated to bloggers has been sent out :( But hey, still pulling for you as you bring that amount down to $0.

Jack said...

Elizabeth,

Tell me about it. The psychic benefit of buying yet another latte does not compare with spending just 15 minutes doing something meaningful for someone else.

Marissa,

Tight shit all over the place! When are we going shooting again??

Pleaserecycle,

It's all one giant circle. One day I hope I find an envelope as well, whether it be full or money or just a nice gesture in my own time of need.

Anonymous said...

This blog is lame. I somehow stumbled upon it after reading about layoffs at my old firm White and Case on another website. Everyone knows law firms are bunk. Just get a cushy guv'ment or inhouse job and slowly turn into a vegetable. The money is plenty good and the lifestyle is great! That law degree ain't so bad after all.

Kady said...

That's awesome. I'm totally twittering this, and, btw, you're gonna be getting lots of ATL love shortly. (Which you may not be so happy about as the quality of the comments are sure to go down.)

Jerry Critter said...

Oh, get off it anonymous! You think this blog is so lame, yet you still read it and take the time to comment. Of course you don't have the guts to leave your name.

Now who is being lame.

spaces said...

Hi Jack -- Love the blog! Love your plan more! Heard about you on above the law.

You're beautifully, amazingly sane.

Take care,
-Spaces, somewhat similarly situated, from Houston

Anonymous said...

I wish "Jack" would finally just throw in the towel and stop torturing the legal community with his threats to quit his job. Seriously, lots of lawyers are out of work right now. If he was truly the noble the soul he claims to be, he would quit his job so some other superficial shmuck can have it.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that all the comments are so: "Oh Jack!! That is such a brilliant, generous idea. It reminds me of when [insert mawkish, saccharine quasi-hippy story about act of kindness experience]." And he has done exactly what...blog about himself and his nebulous, purported plans? Oh wait, he burned his degree. That changes everything.

Anonymous said...

This guy is nothing but a prime example of how kids with rich backgrounds and ivy league educations need to take a year or two to get laid in europe or, alternatively, save the world in south america. Poor kids can handle going to straight to law school from undergrad, they are just happy to have a piece of the american dream. Rich kids start going all Walden on us. Let this be a lesson.

Jack said...

RW,

I'm digging the 100 ideas stuff...

JB,

Thanks! Always nice to hear good things.

Anonymous,

Already on it. Looking at some opportunities, though I'm all for non profits at the moment. As for being lame, well, totally respect your opinion.

Jack said...

Kady,

Thanks. And sweet blog.

Jerry,

Thanks dude. Anon is entitled to his opinion, though it was probably on the edge of being insulting.

Spaces,

Thanks. Always nice to get a third party check on my sanity.

Elizabeth said...

hey - I said shopping, not lattes. Totally not in the same category. ;-)

Jack said...

Anonymous #1,

Dude, maybe you didn't hear. I'll have no big law connection as of Feb:

http://adventuresinvoluntarysimplicity.blogspot.com/2008/10/bring-it-on.html

Anonymous #2,

Not sure how to respond to this comment. If the criticism is that I haven't progressed far enough then all I can say is that I am following a set plan (see prior posts). If you are criticizing people who comment on this blog then I will leave it up to them to respond.

Anonymous #3 (btw, no need to comment three times in a row anonymous)

I'm still not sure what the problem is here. Are you upset that I am giving money away? Is that such a bad thing? Does it matter whether I grew up rich or poor? Do repost. Would love to get more context.

Anonymous said...

The more recent, negative comments are likely a result of Above The Law's feature on Jack's blog. These posters are attorneys who look down on other attorneys for not thinking the life they have chosen is elite and fulfilling. Their insults reak of jealousy.

Like Jack, I am a big-law attorney that needs to simplify my life. I find inspiration from his blog and wish him the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

If you want to give away all your things and be a minimalist that's fine. The fact that you have to put it on the internet and do shit like burn your degree shows how much attention you need.

Jennoit said...

Jack,

Okay, so what I did was really quite lame, but I am here to tell you about it anyway. As for the #1 - that was easy. Had a great conversation about love and death and life with my partner. Mostly about love. #2 - be kind to a stranger I was just not feeling sure what I could do that was a small, but kind thing. I decided while at the dog park today to go on a bit of a clean up rampage - garbage, dog crap, that sort of thing. I figured no one else likes it when the park is gross, but who cleans it up? Today I did and I hope that it can be seen as kindness to the environment and to park-goers.

Like I said - hardly earth shattering, but I said I'd take you up on your proposal.

Wonky comments lately too - I'd ignore 'em I think.

Jenn

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,
I did this once about 10 years ago. It felt good. So did the time my friend and I paid someone else's toll cost (although we're pretty sure the car full of suits thought we were trying to pick them up). Direct giving feels good. But intentional, organized giving can have more impact. There are organizations out there that have worked for years with targeted groups to identify the most urgent need--these groups that have mastered the art of minimum administrative costs for maximum buckage efficiency. Oxfam comes to mind, for example, but there are many.

Welcome to the journey of something more meaningful. If you need to take a little breaky break for a while and feel good, great--I hear biodeisel-run school busses and Burning Man are cathartic.

But, when you're done with that, I encourage you to think not just about giving away your energy randomly, but directing it. Direct it, intentionally, toward something of your choice. Random is fun, but force is good (young Skywalker).

Please consider being more than random. I think I'd be impressed with the results, and so would you. Good luck, friend.

Jonna (aka mom) said...

I don't think you're crazy.

I like to save some dollar bills and hide them in my kids' purses or pockets or houses. I don't know if they know I do it. They don't ask, they know I won't tell anyways. I've been looked at real funny a couple times. It is so HARD to keep a straight face!

Mostly I just like to look for little things to do for other people to be helpful. No one ever need experience boredom or crawl into a me-me-me-miserable-me thing if they do little things. Too much 'self' is an empty thing.

Just one more thing... does this mean we don't get to see you doing the Chippendale thing? You could put it on U tube! (grin)

donna said...

i've tagged you jack, details on my blog

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

I'm sorry for using foul language.

The point is, this is an exercise in need for attention.

Seriously, you should quit your job now. There are a lot of people who really really need it.

read ATL (abovethelaw.com)

This is what your peers think of you.

Yes, I went to Harvard Law School like you.

Yes, I think you are a homosexual who needs a lot of attention...

it's disgusting. if you really wanted to do something good, you woudln't need to brag about it... this last post was just filthy... and then give random cash to random people telling them to love each other?

why not just buy them some weed?

Anonymous said...

Some of us will work in biglaw for years and give away millions over a lifetime to churches and other organizations. You'll give away what you've saved and then you'll think somehow that you're contributing more by working for a not for profit...

Lots of people can do the not for profit...

Not too many people can hack big law. It's a sacrifice, but one that can be used for good.

It's far more noble to suck it up and donate a big portion of what you make, it's just not as fun.

anyway... if you do this... the attention might end after a while... you wouldn't like that, would you?

Anonymous said...

the fawning comments are wildly amusing. "oh jack, you NEVER cease to amaze me." let's get real. you withdrew a few g's in hundreds and stuck them down your pants. pretty crass. definitely attention-seeking. hardly world-changing.

Jack said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for the support. One additional observation. I find it interesting that attorneys appear to be the only people interested in posting negative comments. BTW, I have a policy of accepting all comments so long as they add constructive criticism. Anything that smacks of unmitigated venom I will just have delete.

Anonymous,

I actually think that's a pretty valid point of view. However, as I have said previously, to question putting stuff up on this blog is to question blogging in general. If you feel that all bloggers are attention seekers, that's ok, but it would probably be best to address this particular criticism to all bloggers at large. Finally, I would be all about attention if I wasn't blogging anonymously.

Jennoit,

LOVE IT. As a dog lover (and former dog park walker) that actually a pretty awesome thing to do. As for the comments, note that I will respond to all comments, so long as they present legitimate criticism.

Jack said...

Anonymous,

You took the words right out of my mouth. Directed, organized giving is definitely more effective. But, once in a while, random can be good and novel. I will be back in the fold soon. Promise.

Jonna,

Probably not! :)

Donna,

Thanks. Will check a little later.

Jack said...

Anonymous,

This is still probably on the edge of being offensive but there is enough legitimate criticism for me to respond. First, (and for the last time) I am leaving my firm in a few months. That is already in the cards. Second, goofy pics aside, I am certainly NOT gay (clearly, you haven't read very much of my blog) and even if I was I sort of find your latent homophobia a bit sad. As for bragging about it, please see my response to another Anon above.

Anonymous,

I take your point. I am happy for anyone making a big salary who is willing to part with some cash by donating it to others. As for the rest, see my responses above.

Anonymous,

Totally respect your opinion. Let's just hope some of the people who find these envelopes feel a lot better about the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say, as a biglaw junior associate who reads your blog religiously (even before it was 'featured' on Abovethelaw) that I find your search inspiring. Please don't be discouraged by the new ATL crowd. There are a lot of us lawyers who get a lot from your blog.

carrot quinn said...

Hello, buy some land and let people live on it and farm it organically, Or give that money to a small, radical organization that's really struggling (such as The Hive in Greensboro http://gsohive.org/ this organization is incredible, organized on anarchist, non-hierarchical, anti-authoritarian principals, and helps/empowers an amazing number of community members/homeless people). It must feel very freeing to just be done with it, but damn. That money could do alot of good in the world.

Cali said...

We had a group at UVA that did Random Acts of Kindness, especially during exam time. I think it's a great idea. Organized giving is good, but the funds are filtered through bureaucracy. The power of a random act of kindness is much stronger.

Why not add something to the note that says "pass it on." Such a random act of kindness can quickly turn into materialism/selfishness if it's never passed on.

Good luck in the coming months!

Anonymous said...

dude, you're so lost... you don't even realize it... your message on those letters was like someone searching for some meaning in life and coming away with a recycled halmark card.

you think you don't want attention because you don't show your face?

Not true. you just don't want your firm to know about you. you crave all this attention...

you never responded to the comments about being a child of privelege...

if you actually grew up like most people, you would find a lot more to work for...

you will be the poor little boy who died of ennui...

is this not constructive?

(delete)

Anonymous said...

comment moderation has been enabled.

nice.

good call bro.

Chris Harne said...

I don't know how much sense this plan makes, and I'm sure it doesn't matter (how much sense it makes).

What you are doing seems awesome and fun. That's what matters. What a great random idea.

Mad, mad props.
Chris

Anonymous said...

Are you amazed by the number of people who say they need to think about ways to be randomly kind? That surprised me. I like the lady who cleaned up the park. Golf claps to her.

Jerry Critter said...

You seem to have hit a nerve with some people. You must be doing something right!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack:
I think it's hilarious AbovetheLaw called you crazy as batshit. Haha, I thought that word only applied to Britney Spears. Yeah, this blog smells of attention-seeking, but seriously, how many people with free time on their hands don't court attention? You're getting a kick out of this blog and so are we. So, that's cool. I am curious to your next plans: Where do you plan to work? How will you select a non-profit? Do you really know how to define the type of meaning you are searching for? When will you know if you've found it?

Lex said...

Go Jack go. I'm excited to watch you embark on this journey of finding out what matters to you. I often wonder if I didn't have kids whether I might ditch it all and do as you are doing.

But, I do. And, my passion for revolutionizing the legal world is keeping me energized to get up and out everyday.

I can live vicariously through you!

What was your practice area?

Jack said...

Carrot,

Interesting idea. A portion of the money I gave away did go to some good causes, just not that one. Maybe next time I win the lottery I will think about that idea more carefully.

Cali,

Yeah, well, the note I added was sort of a pass it on challenge. I guess I could have made it more direct...And thanks!

Anonymous,

Your perspective. Totally respect it. As for anonymity, OF COURSE I don't want my firm to know. That's like saying the sky is blue. Let me remind you that you, yourself, are posting anonymously for a reason.

As for craving attention and being a child of privilege, even if was craving attention and grew up wealthy I am still not sure how that changes anything; what does that have to do with giving money away? Will the people who found these envelopes really care? Are these not just personal attacks? Seriously, what else can they be?; how else would they be relevant to this whole conversation?

Jack said...

Anonymous,

No kidding.

Chris,

Thanks man.

Anonymous,

Well, I have a feeling that being randomly kind is not something that we think about doing all that often. Maybe people need the time to really ponder the whole issue.

Jack said...

Jerry,

Yeah, some of these new comments are clearly coming from fellow lawyers. Actually very sad.

Anonymous,

Woa...going to have to plead the fifth on these questions. I promise that you will get more answers as time progresses.

Lex,

Thanks for the kudos. Yes, kids would make this even more complicated. I am in the corporate law area.

Naomi Seldin said...

I didn't come across this until after now, but as someone who's giving my stuff away, I can relate to not knowing how much the other person needs what I'm giving away.

I think I've been lucky so far because I know what I'm giving away has a better chance of being appreciated by the person I'm giving it to. I've made a personal connection with each of the people I've given things to. Some of them are becoming friends. It's a win-win situation: I get space and less stuff, and they get something they want. None of this would have been possible if I hadn't decided to do this.

I approve of moderating comments, too -- although aside from the spam ones my filter catches, I've only gotten one I had to delete outright. People will say nasty things when they can do so anonymously, and it does nothing to further the discussion.

Best of luck to you.

http://blogs.timesunion.com/simplerliving/

nea said...

oh, i am so behind on my blogging (i see your sabbatical post and i did the same). this is AWESOME!

hbw said...

Xzdear jack,
i was so inspired by ur story that i decided to start my loving acts of kindness by offering u a piece of advice:

if u havn't alrdy given away all ur possessions, perhaps u should consider splurging a little on a couple hours on the couch. bc u need it.
either that or next time u ride ur bike after a long week of sitting on ur ass counting ur money, y dont u take it to a place where there r ppl who have real problems instead of goin to the third wealthiest city in america.

i read the comment that u made asking whats the diference if u grew up rich or poor, a have or have not..

umm.. not much.. just about every aspect of ur life.. its quality,ur potential, ur beliefs..

the point is that the only way u would think ur fortunate circumstances r irrelevent is if u were one of the trust fund babies u categorized n judged n tucked away in ur mind to focus on a homeless man...

ya he looks like somone u can learn a lot from, huh? especially since u already noted ur obvious lack of real life experience..

mayb im entirely wrong in this but at least id consider that possibility before blindly throwing myself into some "plan" to drastically change my life.. but i am not wrong bc ive experienced both sides of the coin n it is true that the grass looks greener on the other side.. with success comes responsibilities and headaches but does that mean w/ out it there must b freedom?

u should b thankful for what u have n appreciate the positive things.. not take them away.. do u have any pride in urself or accomplishing what u have? clearly not if u really burny ur diploma that is sad..

people like me who put themselves through school n struggle to reach their goals would kill u before they watched u set their diploma aflame.. its just the value of what it stands for but when u have everything handed to u i guess that would seem just as insane as u sound to me..

if u rly wanna make a difference y dont u use the education u should b fortunate for having n help ppl w / it instead of jus giving away money.. but then u might have to get off ur high horse n risk brushing up against the rest of ushuh?Xz

Jack said...

Naomi,

Interesting. There is definitely something to be said for "intimate" giving. My little project was rather sterile, but maybe that was the point. I think I will probably be more intimate when I give away my furniture to family and friends. And I think we are in agreement re: moderating comments.

Nea,

Thanks!

HBW,

Interesting perspective. Not sure if I will hit all your points, but here it goes:

@ money was dropped off in DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC and rest stops along the way. Don't own a car so didn't see the point to head out to less 'wealthy places'; besides, that wasn't the point.

@ when i mentioned that it doesn't matter whether I grew up rich or poor I was referring to the fact that it wouldn't matter to the person who found the envelopes or the organizations that benefited from this project.

@ your point re: the "homeless man" wasn't all that clear to me. Do comment again and clarify.

@ "but i am not wrong bc ive experienced both sides of the coin n it is true that the grass looks greener on the other side.. with success comes responsibilities and headaches but does that mean w/ out it there must b freedom?"

very good point. I don't think I'm in a position to say that I will find real freedom by leaving success; but I am certain that by leaving "success" I will find freedom from certain responsibilities and headaches. That is a start.

@ burning the diploma; treated this issue to death a couple of posts ago. Dude, it's a just a piece of paper. Still a lawyer. Doing what I did doesn't really mean anything, etc....

@ I can tell you are not a frequent reader. Will be "using my education" to help others.

caseydancer said...

I used to give to a couple reputable charities every year but this year I decided to try to find the MOST helpless of God's children out there. And I can't think of anyone more helpless than
1) abandoned pets and 2) the wrongly imprisoned.

So this year I gave to the ASPCA and The Innocence Project. But on a daily basis, when I find the opportunity, I try to make anyone feeling invisible, aware they're not. Specifically homeless people, who yes are asking for handouts a lot and yes often for liquor (I'm a recovered alcoholic so I don't fault an active one for feediing his addiction). But what I attempt to share is really just a friendly conversation.

I ask them how they are, and almost to a man (or woman) they will gladly, eagerly, chat me up. And frankly they're often hysterically funny, or just plain sweet. So of course I gladly give them a couple bucks for the pleasure of their brief company.

I know what it's like to feel invisible. I wasn't on the street long, but I was there (for a day once and then for a week...) and it's not the hunger that kills your spirit. It's the sense that no one cares. It's being invisible.

Jack, you rock. Keep it up!
xo,
Casey

MysTery said...

I accept your CHALLENGE! Thanks!

japeila said...

It is not crazy...it is very liberating. I did it to the extent that I could. I sold the house, sold possessions (including the dishes and flatware), gave away jewelry and other possessions (the charities loved me), and threw out the rest. I took a laid back job that allowed me the freedom to travel and just enjoy. It lasted about two years and I have slowly been working my way back into the mainstream (I had to put a child through college so I could not completely check out). Still, my house is small, simple and by most standards rather bare. I do not collect "things" I don't have a bunch of "stuff" hanging around. I will do it again on a larger scale next time...that's for sure....

How did this all start???

DIVORCE -- gave him what he wanted and walked away without any ties to him or any shared possessions (gave up a bunch of alimony too).

I'm very happy now. Vive la Simplicity!

Anonymous said...

You spoke of (eventually) working a low-wage job, for the sake of simplicity. Well, just let me tell you: poverty sucks. I've actually had to miss job interviews for lack of bus fare,, ($2.00). Had my daughter drop out of her sport for lack of transportation, (and she was good, too)... Have not been able to take pets to vets for years. Can't pay rent, electricity, internet bill, (that's the only one I care to pay)... well, you get the idea. One good thing about poverty is you don't have bills: there is no hope of being able to pay them, so you just don't! Please don't leave yourself so poor you have to suffer as much as I've had to suffer. It is not simplicity; it is terror. You can't imagine until you've been there, but trust me, you don't want to go there. Good luck though.

Carol said...

Hummmmmm cant be a Liberal...they only give away someone elses money. (couldnt resist that), tho you did say we'd be surprised..so maybe you are the random one. Whatever...I dont' think you are suggesting "poverty" as one commenter thought. It's living a lifestyle within your means? I know I could save several hundred a month if I got rid of the satellite TV, DSL and home phone. Thinking seriously. We have "free" cell phones, and upgrade when they offer us more free ones. Don't spend hundreds on "in" phones and gadgets to go with them. No Ipods etc. Just junk you have to keep replacing to "keep up with"..
We spend weeks or months on a small boat..no TV, no ice,no AC and very little heat. we live simply and love it. Why not at home?