Buy, Consume, Buy, Consume

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Christopher, 1986-

“It just became so meaningless after a while. Everything was about money, status, and class, and after a while, it destroys your soul; it really does.”

What people do every day: go to work, spend all their time in a cubicle or whatever, most of the time hating their jobs, away from their loved ones, doing shit that they don’t even want to do, and going home. We sit out here and we just watch people every day go up and down the street: buy, consume, buy, consume. No one is happy, no one is smiling, everyone has got a frown on their face, everyone running around, racing around, going nowhere fast. It’s like we’re under hypnosis, we are completely controlled by money, by consuming; it’s just a trip. And I was, too, at some point.

I just wanted to make as much money as possible. And now I don’t need to do it, I wasn’t happy doing that. I’m not saying I’m happy now, but I’m not as depressed. As I was running around, trying to make as much money, trying to have some status, trying to raise my class. Trying to impress women, who didn’t care about me, who cared that I had three bedrooms and a couple of cars. It just became so meaningless after a while. Everything was about money, status, and class, and after a while, it destroys your soul; it really does.

I was watching a video of entertainers saying they sold your soul to the devil. I don’t think you have to be an entertainer or a millionaire to sell your soul to the devil. I think I did and I was only making 70 grand a year. You can sell your soul to the devil at really any stage of your life, even with a minimum wage job. One of my favorite quotes in the bible, ‘You cannot serve two masters’. You cannot serve God and Mammon, and Mammon is money. And that was my master, money. Money got me out of bed every day, money got me got me to the shower, it was The One motivator, the one factor in my life that got my feet going. And in many ways it still is, I’m no saint, and I am still part of this world and this world is ran by money. It just is, he smiles.


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Tunnel Vision

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Christopher, 1986-

“When I have the mentality that I know it all, then I don’t need to research, I don’t need to try and grow, I don’t need to talk to people, I don’t need to learn because I already know all the answers.”

Born and raised in Sacramento, I’m the youngest of four siblings. I was actually a really good student, and a good soccer player. About three years ago, after working in banking for about five years, I decided I wanted to explore the world. It was a process, I was unhappy. I was making good money, and attained at a young age everything my parents wanted me to aspire to: a house, a car, a career. I was 22 when I bought my condo. All the things I thought would bring me happiness, and worked hard to get, were short-lived in reality. It didn’t make me happier, in fact I was depressed, and ended up in a psych ward on 5150*.

A typical day in my life before the street, I would wake up, shower, throw on a shirt and tie, and drive to the bank. I worked at Patelco Credit Union at the time. I was doing about thirty loans a month. So I was closing one loan a day on average. Really busy, really stressful. On a typical day, I would write anywhere from 30 to 40 emails a day. I had to coordinate usually with two borrowers, a processor on the loan, an escrow agent, an appraiser on the house, title, escrow people, selling agent, and buyers’ agent. So, with one loan, I would be contacting anywhere from 6 to 10 people. My pipeline had anywhere from 50 to 20 loans. I was a busy, busy person. I was ambitious and young, and I was trying to get out into the business world.

When I look back, I was hired by Wells Fargo in the fall, I just started my senior year. I remember how excited my father was, he smiles. He was also a little worried because he thought I probably would not go to college, but he thought I just accomplished the greatest feat in the world. And I look back at it now and I laugh, you know? Living on the street opened my eyes, I had such a narrow, tunnel vision idea of what life was about. I still don’t know what it is about, but there is a lot more to it than a job, money, career. I’m still unhappy on the street, still suffering from depression and being treated by Berkeley Mental Health, but life on the street definitely opened my eyes. I’m well-educated, and if I wanted to go back, I could. It is definitely not what I want.

Because of my accomplishments, there were times at the bank, I felt like I knew it all. I was young and getting promoted ahead of my seniors, my ego exploded. But the ideal I subscribe to today is that I never want to stop learning, to think I know it all, because the second I do that, I cut myself off from growth. When I have the mentality that I know it all, then I don’t need to research, I don’t need to try and grow, I don’t need to talk to people, I don’t need to learn because I already know all the answers. So, I never want to get that crippling mindset.

* 5150 stands for an involuntary hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital/ward.


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Knights Templar

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Christopher, 1986-

“For about 200 years, the knights Templar protect the church, wealthy landowners, and they grow throughout Europe. Eventually, they invent Western banking.”

Right now, I’ve been on a truth search. So, every day I attack a different topic. I don’t know where it will lead. Last night, I was up all night reading and watching stories about the Knights Templar. Are you familiar with the Knights Templar? It was essentially the first army for the Vatican in the 12th century. At the time, Pop Clement was the Pop of the Vatican, but the Vatican was moved to France, under King Phillip the IV. There were seven noble landowners in Champaign France, who received a commission from Kind Phillip to go to Jerusalem and stay in King Solomon’s temple, digging under the temple to try and find relics like the Arc of the Covenant. And so, they made the journey and stayed at the temple for seven years, then came back to France. Do you want to hear about it? I don’t have to tell you about it, but it’s extremely fascinating.

So, you have these Templars, which are a lot of things. First, they fight, they are very good worriers. They are bright, they are students, they are kind of the ultimate renaissance men, but in the medieval 12th century. For about 200 years, the knights Templar protect the church, wealthy landowners, and they grow throughout Europe. Eventually, they invent Western banking. When Christians wanted to make the holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they would turn to the Templars and turn in all their gold and valuables, and the Templar would write it down like a receipt. That way you didn’t have to travel with all your gold because that was very dangerous. Then, at different trading posts, they would pay you what you deposited in France with the Vatican, and they would deduct it. They were actually the first traveler’s checks and the first safety deposit boxes. No one wanted to mess with the Templars; they were the ones who did the 1st and 2nd crusades, they were ruthless people. It was a foe that you did not want to have, basically.

That is what I studied last night, and tonight I’ll find something else, he smiles. How do I find the topic to study? I don’t know how I find them, they find me. Every topic is different, but they kind of parlay from one to the next. The universe puts a topic in my head and then I just start researching it. I try to be objective, and be careful with the source. But it’s tough, and can get really taxing. Usually the first thing I do in the morning, I get my cup of coffee, sit down, and I’m in the iPad, diligently studying. But today, I got to digest things, my head is spinning. Every night my world gets flipped upside down. And I think, ‘My God, what’s real? What is the truth?’ I just want to find truth, wherever that is.



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Material Accomplishments

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Christopher, 1986-

“The things I value today are living, listening, learning, helping. Helping but not expecting anything in return.”

What am I most proud in myself? See, that has changed. A year ago I would have said all my material accomplishments. If there wasn’t anything material, it wasn’t important, but that has since changed. In fact, the things I’m most proud of today have nothing to do with materialism. It can be as simple as giving someone else the last 30 cents in my pocket, it can be sitting down with a friend and not talking, just listening, closing my mouth (I like to talk sometimes, he laughs, you might be able to notice.)

The things I value today are living, listening, learning, helping. Helping but not expecting anything in return. Growing up, when I helped someone, it was like a power play; I knew if I did something for someone, I can ultimately ask for something back. It was something my father taught me. A businessman, a very good businessman.



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Family Ties

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Christopher, 1986-

“There is that recurring dream that I used to have about my mother. When I was a kid, my mom used to let me sit on her lap in the car, she would use the gas and break, but would let me stir. I used to have dreams of driving, essentially on her lap, and I’d be going through our neighborhood and streets that I didn’t go with her.”

These days, I still talk to my family, but have limited communication. They always want to commit me on 5150* because they are very confused. They find my decision to live on the street crazy. I really was a straight A student. In my senior year, kids were doing college applications, and I was working already at Wells Fargo. My family always knew I would amount to something. Then when I just packed everything, let my house go, let everything go, they thought I was crazy. Maybe I am, he smiles, but I think they are crazy.

I still consider my mother an important person in my life. While growing up, I looked up to her and my father both. But probably my idol was my oldest brother Joey. There was something about him, I just loved him; he was an amazing soccer player, and I wanted to be like him. I loved both my older brothers and thought they were the coolest people to walk the earth.

There is that recurring dream that I used to have about my mother. When I was a kid, my mom used to let me sit on her lap in the car, she would use the gas and break, but would let me stir. And I used to have dreams of driving, essentially on her lap, and I’d be going through our neighborhood and streets that I didn’t go with her. But I haven’t dreamt in a long time. I know I dream, but I just can’t remember.

My biggest regret probably is not being able to get my family to understand, my siblings, my mother and father. I wish there was a way I could explain to them why I made the life change I made. There are a lot of people who think I’m kind of crazy, that I’ve lost my mind. You can tell I’m well-educated, have a relatively good personality, I get along with a lot of people, and they just don’t understand how someone like me can sleep on the streets night after night for three years. They are confused, they see so much more in the world for me, but I just see the world differently now. It’s not the world I grew up in. Their ideal of what this world is about is having a job, making a lot of money, and have a wife and kids. But I am grateful I don’t have these, it allows me the freedom to do what I want. I wish we could have a mutual understanding between us, but we just don’t. Everyone sees the world differently and everyone has an idea of what success is, what living a purposeful life is, and I just don’t agree with their views anymore.

* 5150 stands for an involuntary hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital/ward.


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