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What could you live without?

I started thinking about this awhile ago. Partly through necessity, but then I became interested in following the idea to see how far it could go. I was inspired by the whole “tiny homes” movement - not that I actually want to live in a trailer home - but I was interested in their ideas. Basically they said: why does it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and decades of your life (if you’re lucky) to own your own home? Is it because we have an idea of what kind of house is an acceptable home? Spare bedroom for guests, a shed for the tools, a big backyard… but how often do most people use those things? Once a month? Once a year? Wouldn’t it be cheaper, instead of paying the tens or hundreds of thousands extra to buy the three-bedroom house with swimming pool & 2-door garage, to just buy a one bedroom cottage and then rent tools when you need ‘em, sleep on the floor when you have guests, maybe use a share-car service and spend more time in the local park or gym rather than needing a private workout room or pool. Whatever the activity, there’s probably a way you could manage to do it in a smaller space, or in a public space (yes, all entendres intended - but that’s probably a separate discussion).

Most people seem to cringe at the idea - what would you do with all your stuff? Well the tiny-home solution is to just not have much stuff, to borrow or rent tools & things as needed, then get rid of them again. Personally, I think that’s taking it too far - I’m a hoarder, and I like my tools & reference books & out-of-season clothes to be there when I need them. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to count on buying/borrowing/renting whatever they need, whenever they need it. And from what I gather a lot of the tiny-homes folks also keep storage lockers anyway. But I thought the point was an interesting one - how much money are you paying for a house big enough to keep all that crap in? If you could own your own house for a quarter the standard price, if only you discarded 80 or 90% of your crap, would you go for it? Or do you really need that spare bedroom to store all your backup toasters & fondue sets?

So that’s how it started originally, thinking about housing & how I could ever possibly afford to build my own house on the income from my part-time unskilled award-wage shitkickin job (so please excuse all the personal digressions in this post, I’ve just left them in as examples) … and then I started expanding the idea - instead of just wondering “can I live without lots of stuff & a big house to make things cheaper?”, I started thinking, “if I can live without a fridge/freezer, I won’t need a big reliable solar system for my electricity, which might knock a good $20K off the cost”, and “hey, I don’t even want an indoor bathroom”, and “if I can learn to make my own X, then I won’t have to buy it” (where X is well, almost anything - bread, fuel, fenceposts, string, entertainment…)

And then other things - could I live without a car in a rural area? You’d say no (& I do recognise the safety issues) but I’ve known plenty of folks who do. Because that’d be about half of my income gone right there, just maintaining & running a vehicle good enough to handle those roads. And half the reason for having a reliable vehicle in the first place is so you can get to work… to make enough money to run the car… and round it goes. Or maybe instead I can just ride to work with my boss, and then do a days work on my neighbours fences whenever I need to borrow his spare ute, and save myself the expense of keeping my own. As an added bonus, this would make me really think about whether I needed to go into town, rather than just making recreational shopping trips out of boredom, which would save plenty more money. When you have to make conversation with your racist neighbour & then drive for two hours to buy that wine & cheese, you start wondering if you can make do with some home-brew & raiding the vege garden instead.

And then if food is one of your major expenses, well I’ve already had times when my food bill couldn’t have been much more than $1000/year, and that was with full-time work/study and without a real vege garden. How much could I knock off the bill if I put in a few good days work in the garden each month, instead of spending that time working for someone else so I can buy food from the supermarket? Sure it might take some time to harvest & prepare & preserve all that food yourself, but if you don’t have to work a full-time job to pay for it all, then you’ll have a lot more time on your hands! And which would you rather do, spend your time working your current job, or spend your days digging potatoes & making kimchi?

I guess we sort of started this discussion in the penny-pinching thread awhile back, talking about tips & tricks for saving money on things. But now I’m trying to think bigger, about lifestyle changes which would mean needing and buying less things overall. I just feel like we float through, or are pushed through our lives without often sitting down to think about these things from a cost-benefit standpoint. How much does it cost us to have all this stuff, all those possessions, this much privacy & personal space, this many “conveniences”, our “job security”? How much do we pay in time & stress & RSI & lifelong back problems? Is it really fucking worth it? For what? He who dies with the most toys wins? Unless you’re a pharaoh you ain’t taking it with you, so what’s the point? Perhaps we could be striving for happiness in each day, rather than waiting on some nebulous future paradise (like “heaven” or “retirement”).

So what do you think? What could you live without if it meant you could work 1 or 2 days a week instead of five? Or for those already living on a pension or casual employment or some other sub-poverty-line income, have you thought about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? Or um, a tiny home. Or some other life simplification. Whichever floats your boat (hey, houseboats! fuck yeah). Or Jesus Christ in a tiny home. I think I’m tangentalising here. I blame the reckless drug abuse. But that’s kinda my point (yeah, nice save). How much of our time and money is spent just distracting ourselves from the fact that we don’t actually like our lives, because we spend half of them working to pay for the distractions from our crappy lives! It’s that same fucken circle I was talking about with the car. Circle of life my arse, it’s a circle of crap & I want out. Living in a tent and eating nettles really does not sound so bad, if that’s the way to escape then I think I can live with that. I guess I’ll find out. I’m sure I’ll miss all the beer & skittles, hookers & blow, bread & circuses like my own left arm, but after the last year I believe that you don’t need all your limbs to be whole anyway. I figure shit is always bound to hit sooner or later, but maybe if I’ve opted for a bit of voluntary simplicity in the meantime, then the involuntary sort of deprivations won’t hurt so much when they arrive. Prepping for the soul, I guess. Or maybe just a midlife crisis, who bloody knows? I really can’t tell anymore if this kind of thinking is soundest rationality or antisocial insanity, but happily I no longer feel like I have to care. Maybe I've just read too much Fight Club.

I get that I’m in an easier position than most to make these choices, as I have some land, no dependents, enjoy working out how to do stuff for myself, and am already a recluse with a childish “fuck yourself” attitude towards society in general, so living out bush & growing my own beans doesn’t seem like a big leap from where I’m standing now. But I know that a lot of you folk share at least some of these traits, and I’m curious to know what you think about all this. What might you live without? Electricity? Steady work? Human company? Stable accommodation?

Do you like making things for yourself? You mightn’t think that your gardening & carpentry & baking & brewing & so on skills are good enough to make a living from, mine certainly aren’t - but as they say there's a difference between making a living & making a life, and I wonder.. maybe they’d be good enough to just make a life from.

Edited by Anodyne
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I've started to go to a minimalist road too Ano. Don't have time for a massive reply right now, but basically I've decided to get my possessions down to a number of 50.

So that's not counting individual socks etc, socks and undies I count as 1. Tshirts/jeans as 2, coats as 3 etc. I want to try and live a life of quality over quantity rather than the other way around. Ie a $300 jacket made of hemp that'll last 20years+ is more valuable to me nowadays than 3 coats that'll last 2yrs each. My cd collection I'm unhappy with cos of the size and bulk and he fact it sits unused, so I am selling them off to rebuy my favourites in vinyl, loosing about 250 shit albums.

Once I get my 50 down I'll no doubt reaccess and try to go to 40. I don't want to be a hermit or hippy or whatever you call it, I just need things simpler. An empty room has so many more uses than a full one. You can't sing and dance all night in a cluttered room with 100 possessions.

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I prefer to look at the things from the point of view of, what things that i am unwilling or unable to do without.

And even then its not the item itself but the function or role that it fulfills. For eg, i'm not prepared to do without refrigeration but that can be achieved if various ways to suit what ever resources i have at my disposal.

So anything outside of my unwilling or unable to do without category is just excess baggage now.

And would live quite happily without banks and other financial institutions along with all their supporting structures :wave-finger:

Edited by shortly
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What about all your ethno plants? Do you call them possessions?

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Hmmm I've always counted my plant collection as one... Now it's getting large and they are kept over 3 locations it's probably time to access the situation. There are sections of my collection I consider to be one with so they don't even count as a possession, I think of them more like a friend/pet if you understand. The conundrum come when's the pets start to multiply and require more space than I can allocate or feel comfortable allocating and I'll deal with it then I guess lol. Now to the rest of the collection. A lot are expensive and long term investments to be blunt about it. these aren't ethnos and just horticultural/landscape specimens.

Do I count them as a possession, or do you even count pets as possessions?

If I had a GIO collection, would each GIO be a possession, our could I count the box they are kept in as a possession..?

Great can of worms anodyne, fuck it's icy cold and windy as fuck over here so I'm drinking Budweiser and chillin the tunes, this is giving me great food for thought.

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I think I may have answered my own question rereading shortly's post. The part about unwilling or unable to do without. That's the whole reason to have 50 possessions, to minimalise and only possess what your not willing to live without. I guess if you choose to have a pet it's a possession, goldfish or cactus it's a possession.

But now back to the other question. Another example is my vape collection one possession or is each mod, juices and tank a single possession each...

i don't think there's rules to being minimalist or apart of the tiny home movement. It's whatever your comfortable with...?

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I dont own plants, i just take care of them

I like to try and separate things into, do i need this, or do i want this

most things i want, i convince myself i need, but i dont really need them, like my vaporizer, i don't need it, i just really really want it :)

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Great post Anodyne!

Been thinking a lot lately about this as I want to go down the minimalist and self sufficient road myself. I wouldn't say I own much, but there's still a lot to get rid of especially when I want to live in something like a mini hut or cottage. I'm hoping to get everything to fit into two cardboard boxes around 30 x 35 x 40cm in size. With the exception of a few things, like laptop & ukulele, some motorcycle gear etc.

I also want to tour Australia with the gf on bikes and not having much money to spare in doing so, we're probably going to have to wild/stealth/guerilla camp most of the way around, so yeah we've really been considering our essentials... and since getting into bushwalking/hiking, being out on the trail with minimal gear you sort've realize you don't need very much to survive at all.

I guess this is an experiment for myself, I really want to see if I can achieve this lifestyle I desire and if it suits me. Going to be a journey for sure.

Hopefully you guys understand what I intend to live without from reading what I intend to live with essentially.

It's a lot of work and there's quite an investment involved especially if you don't have your own place but not bad at all compared to the alternative. :P For me it'll be a lot more fulfilling too since the plan is to be producing and consuming most of my own goods which is something I think I'll enjoy, rather than just working to get by, paying for all my needs along the way.

I want to play as much as I can in my life and I will "work" (lol) as hard as I can to set myself up to do so. It's a sad reality but because I have been born into the system, I feel like I have to work within it to a certain degree to drop out. Oh well. Such is life. I would rather live a life where I produce most of my own goods than to be dependent on the system. I know I always will be somewhat, internet, insurance, healthcare, vet etc. But I want to be as independent as I can. I don't really fit in here anyway.

So my first goal is some land to start my project on, I'm hoping for an acre minimum but it'll be great to have more. This is my current obstacle.

After that I can begin on setting myself up with what I feel I need like..:

Shelter - A shack of some sort, not sure how much of a hassle it'll be, esp when it comes to council approvals etc. Unless I move to tassie... Ideally I would just setup a tipi or bell tent with an outhouse not far outside but it's all subject to council approval it seems which is a hassle in itself. Basic appliances and needs inside like bed, heater/fireplace, esky/whatever other storage, desk. Can cook outside or inside with a cheap wood or alcohol stove. Can shower during the day using a solar shower. Whatever I need to get by for now I guess. Ideally I'd get a solar setup and internet and whatnot but luxuries of electricity and internet and whatever else can come later. Freedom comes first.

Food - Land with sunlight to grow crops on. (1/2 acre minimum) using compost to fertilize. Probably will bring my current worm farm over. Chickens for eggs. I personally don't have the guts to slaughter anything to eat, but will happily eat meat I've bought. So yeah I will need to buy stuff I can't produce like grains and whatever else I desire and can spare the coin for. Have been learning to ID edible weeds and native plants that I can forage, fun to learn and great skill to have I imagine. Looking to take a permaculture course real soon as I've heard great things about them and I'm looking to learn some lifelong self sustainability skills wherever I can. Thinking of dehydrating and canning whatever I can too to extend the shelf life of whatever stuff I have in abundance.

Water - A water tank or two to collect and store rain water. Probably going to get some sort of filtration system to make it clean.

Clothing - I've got all the clothes I'll ever need for a lifetime and I have no plans to buy anything, just have to get rid of what I don't need at this point.

Vehicle - Not essential but I certainly want one since it opens up many avenues for travel and exploration, makes a lot of things easier too. Will be keeping my current motorcycle for a while and will be sharing a cheap car with the gf once we get set up if we can afford it. Insurance and maintenance costs can stack up, hence if I can make do with just a motorcycle or if I need to get rid of it, just a car, It'll make a lot of things easier for me.

Strong relationships with others - I've got my gf who I'm extremely close to and a couple of friends whom I am close to but have moved to other states so we aren't in immediate contact. Life gets in the way of relationships especially in this working world, I hate that... Working on finding more people to connect with. Hopefully I can contribute something to the local community in which I end up living in.

Some cash for those things I need to pay for - I have some online stuff going already which is slow and inconsistent but makes enough. Got more ideas along the lines of online businesses/investments, otherwise I'm hoping I can help people out for free utilizing my skills however I can and work on a donation kind of basis. Still need to think about this... Sustaining myself after I'm set up shouldn't be too hard, I'm willing to sacrifice a lot. Main thing for me atm is the initial investment for land and to set myself up since I don't have much capital to work with.

My desire overall is to be something like 90% self sufficient, trading for things that I can't produce and paying for those things that I have to such as motorcycle related costs, yearly fees for land, some foods, internet, Honestly I don't know what I'm in for when it comes to those kind of things, being young I'm kinda naive when it comes to what paperwork I may be facing in the future.

But yeah I know all of this is achievable especially seeing others having done so. The initial investment may be a challenge but damn it's still a fraction of the costs of making a living out here in Sydney's suburbs where the cost of an average house can easily sustain me for a lifetime. I know I'm naive to how tough it is and maybe a bit too much of a dreamer... But bloody hell it's worth shooting for I reckon.

*Edited cos I type too much lol.

Also been thinking... my alternative to this plan of mine? Full time study for a few years or full time work. But lol... those aren't my dreams. I do have some things I want to study, but honestly the internet and/or books have provided me with enough information for self study at the moment... and that's me, a self study kind of person but ofcourse on the other hand I won't get any degree. Fuck it! Not concerned with getting a job in the system anyway! HAH! Not at the moment atleast. Might as well take the leap while I'm young right? I can always go to uni in a year or two if this all doesn't work out... or... if it does. :) Even better.

Edited by Nibbana
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Thanks for the responses all, I'll reply more later but in the meantime I just wanted to say that your post brought a huge smile to my face Nibbana. This bit especially...

Ideally I'd get a solar setup and internet and whatnot but luxuries of electricity and internet and whatever else can come later. Freedom comes first.

... I'm thinking I will have to paint this up on the wall or something. Maybe with an interchangeable "luxuries" slot, so I can insert the current one, eg "hot water can come later, freedom comes first", "new roof can come later, freedom comes first" as a reminder. You really hit the nail on the head for me with that one. For me it's not about reducing my possessions or purchases out of some minimalist or ascetic ideal, it's about reducing my reliance on a system that I don't want to be a part of anymore. So if living without a fridge means that I don't have to work for several years to save enough money for a decent solar system to run it, then absolutely the fridge can go. It's convenient to have, but it's not worth two years of my life. I could spend those years building a root cellar so that I never need a fridge again. And this goes for many, many things. When you lay out their total cost including time & labour & compound interest & all the rest, it can be appalling high. Often too high, from my point o view. So while shortly's point about the complementary question "what can't you live without" is of equal philosophical interest to me, in practical terms I am working at it from the other direction. And what I'm discovering is that there are surprisingly few things left on the "can't live without..." list. Maybe some I will decide later are necessary after all, but I'm willing to at least trial living without them. I suspect that the most abstract will turn out to be the most important, so rather than missing actual things like coffee & soundproofing, I'll end up missing stuff like:

- having wikipedia to answer my every whimsical query about anything

- the anonymity of living in the city

- not having to get out of bed & go out to work in bad weather (to quote a guy I know "you're a farmer now, you don't get days off unless the plants give em to you")

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Your not alone, it's a worthy dream to work towards imo. I recently watch a Alone in the Wilderness (2004), very motivational for this kind of thing, I would happily live in his cabin.

He looks happy enough and reckons he never caught a cold in he's life haha. Biggest Hurtle is getting land for sure, I don't plan on buying a house at all, just get my block in the bush and live. The doco used to be up on YouTube but I'll be buggered if I can find it. Very worth watching.

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I could live without a toilet. One of those flushy things that needs a whole room for itself. My garden agrees.!

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Politicians, shitty cops (at least half of all cops by my estimation), bills, bosses. The list goes on.

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There are a few things which i thought i couldnt live without, but by becoming really poor and suddenly living in a big city, i realised i can survive depravation from, atleast temperarily.

Milk..coffee..cigs..

A washing machiene at my own house

Perpetual solitude

Complete darkness and silence while i sleep

A whole house full of stuff which i rarely utilise or pay much attention to

These are small steps, i still buy milk and coffee when i can ;)

But eventually i believe i could forgo alot more. I am a loner and have often dreamed of retreating to the mountainous forests and builing a solo life amoung the trees.. but thats uneccesary at this time.

Ideally i'd like to live in a world where money was abolished and we traded our way through daily life.

I could live without being entrapped by the monetary system.

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I could live without the social conditioning...

and my anger...

and the predatory capitalism.....

and the materialism.

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Thanks for sharing Anodyne, I've also given this a lot of thought, and I agree everyone has listed some pretty fundamental aspects to any thriving human existence.

I've always felt the future lies in forming some form of new community based on mutual interests and attractions, as I do believe we live in a dying societal system and that flourishing new networks and ways of being is the answer to such a situation.

I'd like to share something of relevance, some food for thought perhaps as I do really agree with the sentiment and value on quality of life offered here.

---

So many have wanted to be part of new type of local community -even if small scale among intentional neighbors, etc.

However rare few took the necessary steps when they were able. Fewer have others who they could rely upon to establish a cooperative effort. Always there was some excuse.

There were the usual litany of illusions of some schools being "better", preferring one city or another, unwillingness to walk away from a hopeless mortgage, the illusion of a "better job" working for someone, one more business deal, etc. and always denial that things couldnt get any worse.

It does not require much to simply work together, to share, to cooperate. You get together with others of like interest, discuss what you want to do in common, how, and what each has to contribute toward making it happen. There was a time when one could give something of ones time or something one made themselves as a simple gift and there was never any expectation of reciprocity, or keeping an accounting tab of such things.

Imagine an awakened conscious community to find ways to remove themselves from the established order of things, rather than just another version of social band-aiding that facilitates a capitalist control system to carry on, it would be forming connections based on the human personality (ordinary awareness) connecting to higher self or god-self and connection to Original Source consciousness in a manner in which the impressions and information are retained.

To some this could be the start of a new way of life on Earth. Here such guiding principles can help: trust, caring, service in a large context of connection to our true nature as spiritual beings. It is this deliberate connection to Creation consciousness and higher self from which one's perceptions and actions can be better informed that is so important to the future evolution of the human specieis. Without it, humanity will be severely limited in its ability to evolve.

http://www.pfcn.net/Bulletins/NES%20-%20Community.pdf

---

Edited by courageoftheweak
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those little boomboxes that claim to pump out bass at 20 something hz but only dismally play bass above 45 or something hz.

I can live without that shit.

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Politicians, shitty cops (at least half of all cops by my estimation), bills, bosses. The list goes on.

I could live without the social conditioning...

and my anger...

and the predatory capitalism.....

and the materialism.

If you want to live without these things, then why are they still in your life? You could probably achieve a life free of this stuff simply by going to live in a cave in a national park somewhere & eating snakes for the rest of your days. It might be a difficult decision, but it's not a complicated one. The point I was trying to make earlier is that there is usually a trade-off. You have let these things into your life with something that you wanted (or thought you wanted). When you decide you want to live without those arguments with your girlfriend, say, sometimes the only way to achieve that is by breaking up with her. Likewise with the social connections you're talking about - to be free of the bad, you would probably sever your ties with a lot of stuff that you like - a whole lot of physical & social comforts. What I was asking was: which of those trade-offs might be worth it for you? What I am slowly realising is that many of the things I had been taught to like are not things that I want at all, or if I do want them, I don't want them enough to pay the hidden costs associated with them.

So why not ditch capitalism like the nagging girlfriend that she is, and join me out in that national park? I'm not sharing my cave though, get yer own. :P

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Only if the caves are air-conditioned :wink:

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cannabis, codine, alcohol, valium, dmt, changa, amphet, lsd, mdma.

life is so much better without you all in it.

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When I was a lot younger I read a book called "My Side Of The Mountain". It was about a kid that ran away from home (i think) and holed up in a big tree (in the Rocky Mountains or somewhere) living a life of subsistence. He rescues or captures a baby eagle and trains it to help him catch food and survive. It became my idea of panacea although the dream was largely deflated by my sister (for example) with statements like "aww, you just want to run away and smoke dope" or something similar (of course she may have been on to something).

Sadly, or gladly, I never followed that dream and have found myself stuck in the rat race of consumerism. And now, with the responsibility of a family to support, I can no longer follow such a selfish whim. (Perhaps this is why I search inwardly.)

If I could, i'd do without many of the mod-cons - but particularly computers and technology which is kind of ironic since that is my profession (and would also mean I couldn't be part of this online community).

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a good pair of high quality shoes

1 awesome shirt that never fails to invoke conversation from stranglers strangers

a secret pair of sunglasses that gets lost at festivals and is always replaced by an even more righteous pair that normally gets found around 4.36 in the am hanging around the dunny's.

my sense of self worth and positivism

the love of my true friends

sexy short shorts

the belief in art as a cure for depression

regular micro dosing

plants

and the petal

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If you want to live without these things, then why are they still in your life? You could probably achieve a life free of this stuff simply by going to live in a cave in a national park somewhere & eating snakes for the rest of your days. It might be a difficult decision, but it's not a complicated one. The point I was trying to make earlier is that there is usually a trade-off. You have let these things into your life with something that you wanted (or thought you wanted). When you decide you want to live without those arguments with your girlfriend, say, sometimes the only way to achieve that is by breaking up with her. Likewise with the social connections you're talking about - to be free of the bad, you would probably sever your ties with a lot of stuff that you like - a whole lot of physical & social comforts. What I was asking was: which of those trade-offs might be worth it for you? What I am slowly realising is that many of the things I had been taught to like are not things that I want at all, or if I do want them, I don't want them enough to pay the hidden costs associated with them.

So why not ditch capitalism like the nagging girlfriend that she is, and join me out in that national park? I'm not sharing my cave though, get yer own. :P

To be honest the OP was a little tl;dr, so I was just responding to the question posed in the title. I'm aware of the cave option, and the compromise thing, hence me not having taken the cave option thus far :P

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