Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure
The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, by Michael Blue, is exactly what the title suggests. Blue, a successful man in the business world, educated, obviously talented considering his success, finds that the cog-wheel-existence of mediocrity, the dream-life offered in his home-country of Australia, just isn't cutting it for him. Tired of the obesity of society, the over-rated consumerism and love-affair with materialism, Blue begins a journey to find a new life. After many attempts, each time returning home to find his footing again and refuel his resources, the author heads out on what will become a successful escape. One might think that the author's story is about escapism, but in fact, it is not. His search for a minimalistic lifestyle, where happiness is based on having enough, not excess, is quite eye-opening. Between the chapters of storytelling his adventures through the jungles of Sumatra and all the wonderful people, and excitement he encounters along the way, Blue does a nice job of weaving in his assessment of the true values in life, how to reduce the destruction of our planet's natural resources, how to live happily minus the lust for material things, and possibly, most importantly, just letting go and living one's dream. A fun book, but one with a relevent message too.
Review by International Writers Inspiring Change
About Mike Blue
Mike Blue is an escapee from the work-earn-consume hamster wheel. He has been on the road living a simple, minimal life since June 2014 and currently calls a big blue bus named Rosie his home. That bus, which provides transport, a place to sleep, cook, contemplate and write is adrift somewhere in Sumatra, Indonesia. There is no plan and no map but a driving desire to not be bound by the status quo, to live outside of the consumption society and live in a way that prioritises physical and mental well-being, integration with the natural world and human community and creativity.
What prompted you to become a writer?
At about age thirty, just over ten years ago, I started listening a bit harder to my internal chatter. The more I listened the more it nagged at me about my apathy towards an inequitable human situation around the globe. It barked on about the destructive human relationship with our planet. To muffle the internal protest, I had to take a look at the world with fresh eyes, without prejudice or programming. I was quite saddened by what I saw. I felt that as I had the luxury of living in comfort as so many people of the world do not, the very least I could do was contribute something of myself. My initial actions were disorganised. They were focused around activism. I worked with environmental groups attending protests and generally ranting and raving to anyone who would listen to me. I’d wax lyrical about the wrongs of human and environmental exploitation. I jumped from one bandwagon to the next. It seemed so futile. With each success on the environmental front, a new front would open up. It was endless. Why were we fighting to save the environment, the very thing that lets us survive? Why were we fighting our own government? Why is our system so suicidal, so intent on extracting every resource from the earth with minimal regard for her health? Why does our system value profit over health and well-being? I had been like the boy sticking his fingers in the dyke as it collapsed before him. It wasn’t effective. I wasn’t looking at the underlying cause. I started to look at the systemic factors that gave rise to these environmental and human issues and stopped focusing on symptoms. It’s no secret that the motive of profit, the most fundamental tenet of capitalism, requires us humans to consume stuff. Put simply, the more consumption the more profit. From around my mid-thirties I knew the underlying issue is the manner of our very existence. So, I went to work on my own existence. I figured I had better look at my own situation in terms of consumption before I could feel justified to rant and rave to others. That is not to say I ceased ranting. Ask any of my friends, and they will confirm with rolling eyes that I was a persistent pest in this arena. It is from this process of self-assessment that The Consumption Cleanse was conceived and I started writing.
What do readers like about your writing?
I can only guess, or base this on the reviews that I receive. I think readers like that my stories are real, they are based on my own life, and my own exit from a world in which the majority of us in the west do now live in. I think that because if this it makes the information accessible and useful. Most of what I write about is about what happens in my life, and often can be embarrassing so there is some humor involved, I am told. And finally, I write without regard for convention and often in a way that might upset the apple cart of the status quo in a consumer society. So, my writing does not always attract friends, but it is always grounded in the truth
Is there a message weaved into your writing?
I write primarily for the enjoyment and satisfaction of it. But the drive that is behind it all is my passion for the environment and my conviction that it is man’s excessive consumption that is causing its demise. I currently live in the jungle regions of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, and in that jungle, I see so much natural beauty on the one hand, and feel man’s destructive encroachment on the other. I live with little, and need nothing but food and shelter. All the fun and enjoyment in life comes from what is freely available for all to enjoy, nature. And there is still nature left. The message behind my writing is to reduce your footprint, and start creating the joy in your life rather than buying it. Think about what has to happen when you consume stuff. It does not come from nowhere, it requires resources, and those resources consume our earth. Minimalism and simplicity, once in place, free you from the endless desire for more.
What is it that you want to inspire in others or change in the world through your writing?
I want my stories to be enjoyed, first and foremost. And then when people read them, and can see that it does not take consumption and material “stuff” to have a fulfilling and fun life, they might apply some of these principles in their own life, and give our wonderful planet a break.
Tell us about your most recent book and why you wrote it?
In addition to question #2…The Consumption Cleanse is essentially a record of my research and self-experimentation to eliminate unnecessary and harmful consumables from my life, once a week, cumulatively for 52 weeks. It is dissected into four books. Book 1 is all about ’Food’. Each category is chosen based on my selection criteria, researched for supporting facts that confirm their unnecessary or harmful nature, and then removed from my life. Sometimes a category comes with an extraction plan, sometimes with viable replacements, and sometimes both. This is documented together with my own experience to be used as a guide when the reader takes on the cleanse.