How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

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I wanted to
move into a homeless shelter because I thought that girls who were
homeless would be more likely to go out with me. I had this fantasy
version of what a homeless shelter would be like. We’d sneak
around to each others rooms as if they were dorm rooms. It would
be romantic. Lots of giggling. And crack smoking. Heck, I’d
try it. For love.

I had a job
and wasn’t really homeless. I had a place to live. But my girlfriend
at the time hated me I was pretty sure of it and I needed a change.
Plus the homeless shelter was right next to my place of work. I
could’ve lived at the shelter and it was about a 20 second
walk to work. How great can life be? I ask again: How great can
life really be?

The homeless
shelter director said “no” to my request. He called my
references. I had said I wanted to write about the experience. My
boss, my ACTUAL boss at the time, said I was probably mentally ill.
I didn’t have that job for too much longer. Nor did I move
into the homeless shelter. But they did let me give chess lessons
there.

All of this
to say, there’s something primal in me that wants to disappear.
To mix with what I view as the lowest of the low, to forget about
my past, to sign up for a future that is meaningless, to think only
about right now and give up everything else.

When I was
a kid I bought the book How
To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found
. I don’t
know if any of the techniques still work but here was the author’s
plan:

Look at old
newspapers from around the day you were born to find the names of
babies that died that day. Ask your state government for their birth
certificates. This isn’t unusual. Many people lose their birth
certificates. Use the birth certificate to get a social security
card (say you’ve been a permanent student up until now). Use
the two forms of ID to get a bank account, credit cards, driver’s
license.

Change your
hair color. Lose weight. Put a tack in your shoe so you start to
walk differently. Start siphoning money out of your bank account
until it is all in cash. Find a crowded city where you can rent
an apartment cheap and disappear in the crowd. Plan on building
an employment history by starting with temp or construction jobs.

Then disappear.
Just walk out of your house and never go back. You’ve just
committed pseudocide.

The word “pseudocide”
fascinates me. Its like a “little death”, a phrase often
used to describe an orgasm.

The book had
anecdotal stories of people who had disappeared (how the author
kept finding these people was never explained). People running from
marriages, lawsuits, the IRS, or maybe just every now and then someone
needs an eraser, some whiteout to rub over emotions, fears, anxieties.
A clean slate that would bring a temporary Nirvana when some, if
not all, of the mental and emotional baggage can be discarded with
your old life. Wrapped up in a garbage bag and left behind a bowling
alley.

Read
the rest of the article

March
29, 2012

The
Best of James Altucher

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