Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cage Free Family in DC


As some of you might know, the Cage Free Family stayed in my place this past Thanksgiving weekend. If you recall, these are the guys who were profiled in the New York Times article earlier this year as they gave away most of their stuff and ventured out on the open road in an RV. Having Aimee, Jeff, Quinn, and Nichola over was a wonderful distraction from all the planning, packing, and assorted downsizing going on at the moment. Besides giving me an excuse to experience DC as a tourist again, their stay had a pretty big impact on me personally.


Having sworn off meaningful relationships not too long ago, it was absolutely refreshing to see the love and compassion Aimee and Jeff have for each other. These guys aren’t just married; they are partners in a wonderful adventure that has no end in sight. When one is overwhelmed with life stuff, the other steps in seamlessly. When one is enjoying life stuff it’s probably because the other was there to make it happen.

Maybe love is alive and well all over the place and I’m just not privy to it. Maybe all those meaningless sexual escapades of the past few years have truly jaded me. Or maybe all my crazy family stuff has left me damaged beyond repair. Regardless of the reasons, I hope that one day I can be as strong, as caring and as vulnerable with another human being.


Hanging out with the kids was the highlight of my weekend. Making paper airplanes, shooting down invisible monsters, and entering a blackberry case tossing contest (I lost, by the way) certainly puts the idea of having kids of your own into perspective. For a brief moment, it felt like the most natural thing to do.


bill h said...

What a cool post. I think it's cool you are identifying fellow travelers, a community of kindred spirits. I also think it's cool that you can share your frustrations with family and friends.

I have a 17 year old and a 20 year old. I'm paying a bunch of money for their education and I gotta tell you, all I want is for them to be fulfilled happy people. If it's in law, fine, if it's waiting tables, fine too. Really.

I refuse to be defined by my job. I like practicing law quite a bit actually, but it's not my definition.

I hope you are able to find someone who really is a partner for you in life. I don't know if you will, but I'll be surprised if there isn't someone like that for you.

Again, thanks for sharing.

Nicole said...

Jack, don't worry. We all become jaded at some point in our life. It happens, especially after a bad breakup. Time and the right person will have you singing a different tune. You'll know when it's time. For now, just enjoy the moments.

My Eco Self said...

Jack, that sounds great. I hope that in the midst of all this downsizing you aren't going to disappear into thin air. We stay to stay fully informed.

Jill Homer said...

Jack, really glad to see you back and blogging. I was worried that the trolls may have chased you off.

Beautiful that you could share some time with this family.

donna said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Relationshios and having kids can be hard work sometimes but the good stuff completely outweighs it. Being around children whether your own or other people's gives you a chance to get a different perspective on life. I think it helps to keep you forcused on what's important.

Jack said...


Thanks. Yes, it is a good feeling, knowing there are kindred spirits out there. We may all come from different places, both physically and emotionally, but we share important commonalities. I'm curious where you are headed Bill. Any major changes when the 17 year heads over to college?

Miss Scorpio,

Very true. Let's see where it all leads.

My eco self,

Not a chance. Disappearing is not really in the cards

Storyteller said...

Aimee and Jeff have the most incredible spirits.... so, tell us, did you Cry when they left??

I'm really just teasing here, since I took the time to read their blog again this morning after so many weeks away - and I felt the lump in my throat return.... pure, unadulterated jealousy, I'm quite sure! --- but, gawd, what inspiration flows from those two! (hey, maybe they're angels!)

so glad you got to meet them - ok, now I'm jealous of you! ;)

hugs from Texas,

bill h said...

I don't know. I think my life won't change a lot actually. I'm already doing lots of the things that I love doing.

We've tried very hard to live as simply as possible. Not to say, we don't have room to simplify, we clearly do. I'm very fortunate my wife has compatible values. I drive an old car, and bought a very affordable house and am working on paying off the mortgage. Like most lawyers, my career is very time consuming, but I'm able to work on at least one major pro bono case at all times. (currently a human rights case from Ethiopia).

Jack, I think this is where we might be different. I think it is possible to life simply and maintain a somewhat conventional life. I'm not being critical of your mission, (not at all, I admire it).

Now, ask me in two years and we'll see.

Jack said...


Thanks for checking in. BTW, going to get your book before xmas. And no, trolls are fine and managed.


Tell me about it. It's as if you look at life in a completely different way. Some of the comments in my earlier post were spot on. Kids make you younger.


Nope, no real tears, but definitely a certain sadness that they are not always near. Awesome to hear from you. :)

Elizabeth Halt said...

I'm glad you had a fun visit with them! I love spending time with kids. I must confess that it doesn't ever make me want kids of my own, but I enjoy being around them regardless. It's also an excuse to play - and sometimes it seems like you need an excuse when you get older. :)

Nicola said...

awesome. i agree...wonderful that you were able to observe a good partnership and family in action and be a part of a journey in the process.
gotta say...didn't realize their daughter shared my name. :)

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to get to interview Aimee for a story I was writing about voluntary simplicity. Aimee took a couple of hours (on a Saturday night, no less) to speak with me and share her story and advice. Her spirit and generosity were inspiring. I'm glad you got the chance to host them -- what a wonderful family.

Jack said...


I have a feeling we are more alike than not. It is all about context. You have a family, responsibilities, etc...Being single and living at this time in my life allows for way more latitude when it comes to simplification. Don't stop commenting; I'd like to see where this all leads you.


Like I said earlier, kids keep you young. There is something about looking at life through kids eyes that brings the youth out of you.


:) that's pretty awesome.

bill h said...

I'm enjoying the dialog, as well as watching what all these people are up to! I'm working on a piece for local NPR on simplifying Christmas, I'll post a link later if it runs. I think you'll find it pretty interesting.

headed to the Pub right now, I'll lift a pint for ya.

Blessings and Peace jack


rachaelgking said...

Aw. I try not to think about having kids, because I know no matter what crap I spout off, I'll probably feel very differently in a few years. Thanks for the reminder :-)

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a wonderful time. I am glad you are well.

Erin said...

Found my way here via the cage free family's blog. I'm on the front end of a simplicity plan myself. It's nice to find others who share this brand of crazy.

Peace to you...

Anonymous said...

That's so sweet, Jack.

So, um, can you be my lawyer? Just joking! But maybe you could explain to me how some of this works?

Jack said...


I hope that pint tasted good. Do let me know about that link.


Yeah, I hear ya. Currently NOT in the mindset, but clearly open to the possibility. That's a big change from just a couple of years ago.



Anonymous said...

Jack! We need more posts! Please. :-)

Kady said...


Glad you're back, man. I was worried that those wretched trolls from ATL had turned you against the interwebs, even those of us who applaud what you are doing.


Unknown said...

Hey You,
I've only just gotten to read the comments on your Revolution post.
The first thing I noticed was how many people felt inspired, enlivened and uplifted by your words and actions. This exponentially outweighs those who would claim that you even have the ability to offend them. I have long believed that those who are so very secure in their own beliefs have little need to defend them with such force as anger and offense.

As a fellow I can imagine that some of those angry comments and questions gave you pause. How could a person evolve and not ask themselves those questions, as surely you have. So, in their familiarity they probably smarted a little. ;-) I know. Just remember that what games your mind can play will never speak the truth that you *feel.

I saw the spark in your eyes. I heard the truth in your words and I watched you willingly shed your own ideas, preconceived notions and beliefs - and then ask for more.
I saw the titles in your book-stacks and I pondered your questions.
No person can every truly *know another person, especially not in one week or by words alone, but what I do know is the life changing power of your courage to change - whatever you must - in order to find that peace and rightness and reason to live.

Some will wake up at dawn, drive to their 14 hour day pushing papers for a corporation hiding behind legal loopholes and they will believe themselves satisfied, fulfilled and righteous. And maybe they are - that is their path.

This is yours. Walk it with your head high, take in the beauty and look ahead to your obstacles. Look carefully down as you scale them and check your footing, but always-
Always - follow your heart.

Peace to you and to your mind.
To your heart I wish the pull of fulfillment that makes it swell.
Run wild, fall down, laugh like Hell and lick your wounds. So long as you don't replace your old cage for a new one you will be alright.

As for being an exhibitionist - I say "monkey see, monkey do" you go on inspiring. It's part of our purpose in being human.


Jack said...


Thanks for dropping by. Aimee and Jeff definitely rock. Don't be a stranger.


It is sooo awesome to hear from you. It sucks you aren't posting as much any more. Let me know if you have started another blog. Would love to check it out.


:). I will see what I can do. The thing is that I only try to post when I have something relevant/meaningful to say. I don't want to feel like I have to post every day just because it's another day.

Jack said...


Glad to be back. Screw trolls and I don't really care what they think.

Cage Free,

Very well put. I think there are people who don't react well when their lifestyle or choices or even sense of self is challenged.

And thanks for those encouraging words. I also saw something in you guys, something that made me sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I need to find it. And happy because you have it.