Secrets of A Good Life (Thoughts After 3 Years of Life Off-the-Grid at Kalien)

My companion Gina and friends Daniel & Vaishali sharing a table.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 23 seconds.

It really doesn’t take much to sincerely say, “Life is good.”

1) A Companion
2) Simple Food & Drink
3) A Good, Sound, Warm, Dry Room
4) A Table, Chair, and Bed
5) A Place to Walk

And only five more to say “Life is Great”

6) A Companion That Gets You
7) Books
8) Loving Children
9) A Friend or Two
10) Whisky and Wine

Everything else is non-essential. I count myself very fortunate to have nine of the ten. Yes, I have a great life.

In my early twenties, a friend taught me a valuable life lesson I still practice today called the A-B principle: for example, a car is to get you from point A to point B. You don’t need A/C or leather seats to get there, only a car with tires and a motor. Extras are nice but not essential. Since then, I have practiced that principle in buying a vehicle. 

My friend was a comptroller at a successful Buick dealership and asked me to drop by. He showed me an old, ugly, but clean canary yellow 15-year-old Mercury Zephyr. He told me he was selling it to me—not giving it to me—and that I owed him $1,200 for the car. I was told I had to promise to pay him $100 for twelve months and because I was a close friend he would not charge me interest.

The only stipulation was that after twelve months, I was to continue to put that same amount into an automobile savings account each month and drive the car until the “wheels came off.” He showed me on paper how interest paid for a depreciating car mounted up over time and said that if I would listen to him, I would never have to pay a car payment again.

I drove that Mercury Zephyr until the top was rusting out. When it would rain, the floorboard would fill with water and the cloth ceiling would fall and billow around my head.

That car lasted six years and I was able to sell it for $900. Chuck’s A-B principle dictates that a car should never cost the owner more than $2,000 a year. Somehow I have adhered to that formula and have paid cash and made money on every car I’ve owned since that time.

Today I am fortunate to drive the finest Lexus SUV with every available option today debt-free—but it’s because I practiced the A-B principle throughout life. And even better I have an old beaten-up Dodge Ram truck, also debt-free.

The past three years, I’ve learned this A-B principle applies throughout life. It truly is the simple things in life that matter. But during forty years of success and “fame”, I somehow forgot this invaluable truth.

Could it really be true?  A companion; simple food, and drink; a warm and dry room; a table, chair, and bed; and a place to walk, are all one needs to have a good life.

Created by Randy Elrod

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