Friday, February 5, 2016

Let's Talk About Armpit Smell

Let's Talk About Armpit Smell 

Well, if you want to title a video so that it pulls viewers and gets peoples' attention so that you can make a point about something that you think is emblematic of how the human race has lost its way, you can't do much better than this.

 As this video opens we see Robb Greenfield, its creator and star, placing his nose in his own naked armpit and taking an audibly deep inhalation, He then opens with the  provocative, although seemingly reasonable query "(sniff), Ah... Armpit smell! Something that most of us don't want to talk about - something that most of us like to hide!" And yes, I confess, I'm part of the 'most of us' that he's referring to. But I'm already hooked by the blatantly straightforward and outrageously candid invitation implied here - that he's going to take us someplace that's uncomfortable and enlightened and for which I may be a better person for having followed him to. And considering that the video 'player' shows that this entire adventure will only take 2 minutes and 21 seconds, a few of which have already passed, I figure "Hey, what have I got to lose?" Let's see where this goes!

Over the next 2 minutes Robb makes some good points. "Who came up with this idea that we're not supposed to smell?" he ponders out loud and points out that everything in this world has a smell, so why not us?" And then he queries "What is the purpose of that smell?" I don't think he answers that one so well, but he does point out that the sweat that makes the smell needs to come out and we should understand and honor, and certainly not impede this. And,  he leave us pondering the nature of our own aroma and our unconscious desire to deal with it -  as well as our common practice of dealing with it by using deodorant, and on and on. By the way, he makes sense through all of this and comes off as a reasonable and intelligent man.

But now we come to what I feel is the core value of this video, this series that is, not this particular video in isolation. If it were just this one video we'd be tempted to see Robb, the creator, as just another armchair philosopher. This isn't the case, I realized, when I got a look at his armchair!

Actually, his entire house which is a 50 square foot, little, teeny tiny house-like shelter on wheels (I think that makes it legal, something it surely wouldn't be if it were not on wheels and classified as  a permanent dwelling). He lives in what appears to be a converted gardener’s tool trailer. I think I recall him relating in other videos of his I've watched that he has it parked in someone's back yard. In fact, he runs all of this down in is video titled  Off the grid, tiny house living, in the city!

This video is a mother lode of thoughtful, free thinking, contrarianism at its finest. Robb Explains that he has gone from a traditional life style, living in a regular house, holding down a regular type job, and, as a standard, debt and rent encumbered individual, sacrificing his time and well being, both physical and spiritual to a set of values and beliefs that he offers us he has happily left behind."It wasn't always this simple, though. I had half a dozen credit cards, a fair amount of debt, and wanted to be a millionaire." he states while looking out at us from his small scale haven of rugged individuality and independence from group think, in the yard he inhabits somewhere in San Diego.

He goes on to explain that "Now my life is all about happiness, health, and living for the betterment of the Earth, my community, and myself!" And although one might reflexively want to invalidate this, considering that his way of living and being logically invalidates our version, his beaming visage and rational and sincere manner of speech seem to nip that in the bud quickly. This guy clearly isn't crazy or stupid and doesn't seem to have a hidden agenda anywhere. Which is a good thing, because his home and wardrobe are so far cut back to the bone that one can't imagine where he'd hide it, anyway. He finishes his intro up, saying "I'm largely able to do this through simple living and today I'm going to give you a tour of my simple place."

I very much recommend that all of us, every man, woman, child, hedge fund manager, cosmetic surgeon, and haute couturiers, all of us take this man's tour. And in the case of high performance luxury car salesmen, gambling casino managers, and Donald Trump, perhaps set this video to play on an endless loop, handcuff yourself to chair in front of your screen, and after saying your prayers have one of your servants hit the "Play" button. And even if we don't change anything in our lives, we will all be more conscious about important aspects of life that most of us insist on staying blessedly UN-conscious about.

As Robb shows us around his place, he points out that he's 'Off the Grid.' He explains "What does that mean? It simply means not dependent on public utilities. Here, I'm energy and water independent." And it's true, he shows us the miniscule solar panels he has on his roof that power the few things he has that require a little electricity and he shows us his outdoor kitchen and washroom with hyper water efficient sink (he harvests rainwater) and composting toilet. He does not show us a shower or bathtub anywhere. Interestingly, and clearly, living this way requires some effort and some physical labor that probably contribute to what appears to be this guy's brimming health.

Tying the two videos together, is Robb's statement in the second that "It might come as a surprise that I actually have gone 2 years without showering.... I had been any every day showering dude. But I learned that you don't need to shower every day. Instead I go for a swim in a natural body of water. And I learned that I don't need soaps and shampoos and conditioners and body washes and colognes and all that. My body functions just fine as it was intended to do!"

To the list of people I enumerate above I'd like to add students. Yes, I strongly believe that every kid should see this, be guided in wrapping his brain around it, reflect and share his thought with colleagues and then write or produce a video or a poster or whatever to concretize and then share with the world his opinions and thoughts and more about this. And if you are a teacher and are reading this... well, why wouldn't you want to do this? This is about as relevant as curriculum gets! No?

PS - The above assignment is for students who live in the United States and Europe and other countries around the world who have or who aspire to a life style similar to theirs. I will excuse students from the "Other Group", about whom the United Nations points out (See: )
  • Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day.
  • About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day.
  • Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate and 1 billion do not have safe water.

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