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Downshifters. Abandon Everything

Author: 27.08.2015 | oddities, nature
What do Ukrainian philosopher Gregory Skovoroda, Russian multimillionaire German Sterlingov and British journalist Judy Jones have in common? Each of them in a certain moment of their lives decided that career was far from being the most important thing in life and traded blessings of civilization for closeness to nature by becoming downshifters.

Trendy word “downshifting” with a very simple meaning of downward movement was introduced into daily use in mid 90s of last century in the USA. However, downshifters who abandoned careers and whole fortunes to seek truth, personal happiness and life close to nature emerged much earlier. Researchers of the phenomenon oftentimes refer to Buddha as a pioneer because as far back as in 6th century B.C. he abandoned his luxurious house, family and wealth and headed away to reflect about essence of things. According to texts it only took him 49 days to reach enlightenment. Still, by no means all believe in this story; therefore Outlook came up with our own TOP 5 downshifters whose existence and deeds aren’t subject to doubt because there is a truckload of witnesses.

From Tsar to Peasants

The “earliest” person of interest should come as number one in our selection. It was Ukrainian mind Gregory Skovoroda. Having got splendid education as for the times (18th century) both in Russian Empire and abroad and thank to his talents the philosopher came to serve as a teacher in circles close to royal family. Nevertheless, prospects of becoming a personal tutor of Romanov family weren’t tempting for him. First he “gradually” distanced himself from St. Petersburg by moving to a quieter Kharkov and in some time set on wandering around villages of south-eastern Ukraine to teach peasant children spelling and some sciences. With his “closeness to people” Skovoroda hadn’t earned a dime – he was getting modest food and a place to stay for a night as a gratitude from thankful countrymen, but he liked that simple life much more than pompousness of the capital. There is a reason that a person who had given basic education to thousands has “The world tried to catch me, but hadn't succeeded” written on his gravestone. Now that’s quite a motto for downshifters, isn’t it?

The Happiest Guy

Only this and no other way David Glasheen refers to himself – a former millionaire who settled on a tiny island to the East of Australia. After a stock market crash that took place in 1987 “modern Robinson” decided he had had enough of material values, sold out all his assets and moved to a small patch of land that he rented from the state. Now, instead of taxes, credits, stock prices rise and other intellectually intense but nerves-consuming activities he has his mind on far more down-to-earth issues as how to locate sun batteries properly or what’s the way to improve self-made beer. The only thing David misses is a female “Friday” – the one the man is actively looking for through dating websites. Yes, he does have a computer and Internet already because the man is on first-name basis with sun batteries now. As to medical care, from time to time the man, who is already not in his first youth, visits Australia for checkups. But all in all, when you work in fresh air your entire day and every day, there isn’t really time for being sick.

Journalist Yesterday, Free Writer Today

This expression is about our next character – Judy Jones from the United Kingdom. After having dedicated first 40 years of her life to serious journalism and having worked in such famous and respected publications as The Independent and The Observer, the woman quit all of them to start travelling. And since in the sphere of media it is hard to earn millions even in the United Kingdom, Judy had to start writing again but to her own content, not about politics and economy but about own wandering around far away lands (Africa, jungles of Latin America) and about people she had met. Maybe today, in times of developed Internet and possibility to publish own features literally from a cave, Jones’ deed doesn’t seem like something out of ordinary but back in 1990s it was a pretty daring move. Nevertheless, thank to her talent she published several bestselling books that allows her live the way she wants till now.

First Millionaire is First in Everything

When being one of the richest people in 1990s’ Russia, businessman German Sterlingov, who was tipped to at least become a mayor of the White-Stoned capital, abandoned all his ambitions concerning skyscrapers of Moscow City business centre that was an unfinished construction back then, and moved to suburbs to concentrate on agriculture. Sure enough, talks that “he had been forced” or that “he ran away because of fraud schemes” don’t settle for a decade already, but multimillionaire gets real relish on his 37 hectares where he does farming. More to that, his example inspired many wealthy Russians go for downshifting not in warm countries of south-eastern Asia but in their native land. Funds and grants he has founded help interested city dwellers transfer to peasant, and what Sterlingov believes to be “ancestral Russian”, way of life. Who knows, maybe in some time thousands of followers will be coming to him to Mozhaysky District, as was the case with Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana in his due time, because he doesn’t forget doing some philosophizing, too.

Businessmonk

However, despite all the efforts of the first Russian millionaire, India is still believed to be the most popular location to leave everything and start living to own content nearby pristine nature. It is there where a French businessman Christian Fabre became a monk. Amazingly, he derived financial benefits from his downshifting. Having had visited the East for many years as a tourist, he thoroughly studied economic aspects of life and created own factory to tailor clothes that are perfectly sold not only in that region but also in Europe. Thank to skillful management, yearly turnover of the company exceeds 10 million dollars, given that Fabre doesn’t spend much time on briefings and sales strategy compilation because his main occupation is saying prayers in his own cell and enlightenment. He is a graphic example of the idea that with work being properly orchestrated, one can be both rich and free at the same time…

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