The Camel Trader Of Babylon

“The hungrier one becomes, the clearer one’s mind works — also the more sensitive one becomes to the odors of food.”

That’s how the chapter starts and its certainly true. I know that I am always at my best mentally 2 days into a fast. There is something about the cleaning of the body that really makes the brain come alive.

This chapter focuses on Tarkad, a kid who has borrowed money from many and still is unable to eat. He bumps into the camel trader and wishes he hadn’t, as he has borrowed money from him in the past.

The camel trader invites Tarkad in for a story as he eats, without offering Tarkad anything. His story revolves around his youth and how he borrowed more than he could pay (basically describing the exact situation Tarkad is in). He became a robber, looting unarmed caravans but this line of work left his soul feeling tainted.

He was eventually captured and sold as a slave. he is straightforward with his answer when asked if he can tend to camels, which earns him an iota of respect. Enough for him to become his masters’ wife’s camel tender. On a trip, they have a long discussion about the camel traders desire to not be a slave. He sees no way out of it, for his debts he cannot repay.

The wife says that he should treat his debt and fight it as if he were the king fighting his enemies. She also gives him a valuable opportunity to escape with 2 camels, water and food. His journey found him running out of food and water, but he persisted. On what felt like his deathbed in the desert, he found new resolve. He will not die. He will repay his debts, make a home for his wife and be someone he and his family could be proud of.

Right now, this kind of feels like me. I feel like I’ve been living as a slave to the world I created for myself. In recent weeks, as I lie on my imaginary death bed, I decided to make a change. It’s not going perfectly, but the fact that I’ve worked on these e-mails and this book for days in a row, means that something is changing.

I’ve started to look at my life as a series of problems that can be solved and not like a slave who can only whine saying “what can I do? I am only a slave.”

Like the camel trader – I’ve decided to take the road that leads back to self-respect. “Where determination is, the way can be found.”

Nate titled his first e-mail about this chapter as “Are you a Slave or are you Free?” A very provocative question that you want to scream FREE at, but upon self-reflection, I would imagine a lot of us beginning this journey feel like slaves. Slaves to our debt or our lean purse. That’s why we are here though, to learn the ways of becoming the free man.

Nate says people react to debt in 3 ways:

1. They accept the debt, pay the regular payments, and wait for it to go away.
2. They ignore the debt, do not pay it, and wait for it to go away.
3. They become passionate about eliminating the debt, make extra payments, and celebrating the debt’s removal.

Tarkad was someone who ignored there debt and found it impossible for him to repay. Thankfully, he had someone to teach him a lesson. Nate rightfully remarks that if you were starving and someone was lecturing you WHILE eating, you’re probably going to remember that for the rest of your life. You might remember it bitterly, but it would still stick with you.

We were all born free without bad habits. We just accumulate them over time. Often this is taught to us by those around us. For me, this is one of the reasons I want to learn to control my money – so I can instill good habits in my kids – not that bad habits that got me to where I am today.

Nate proposes that if you have a lot of debt, that you use the snowball method to pay off your debt. Basically, pay off your smallest debt first, and then use the payments for that debt to pay off the next one. As you get things paid off, if you start stuffing money against your mortgage, you are going to save a lot of money!

Nate also teases us with the strategy called “shifting the wind current” and says it’s even better than the snowball method. I’d imagine he talks about this in his Holy Shift course.

I’ll find out someday soon!

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