hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com


This is a design for a sane personal economy.


250 shelter
150 food ($5/day)
50 other: clothing, transportation, communication, art
100 self-insurance
50 investment
~70% expenses
~20% emergency
~10% savings


11 months work
1 month vacation
~$655/month earned (7200/11) $150/week
10 hrs/wk @ 15/hr (or 6 @ $25)

budget explained

  • shelter
    • our main expense. It determines the scale of one’s economy.
    • round, small, non-toxic, portable
    • simple, functional, comfortable. An example is this infographic
    • an essay on our culture’s basic economic myth: hygienicdarkretreat.com/other/mechanics
  • food: whole, homemade, some homegrown
  • other
    • clothing: thrift stores, of course :)
    • transportation: used road bike ($100-200) + occasional bus & plane fares. 700cc x 21-25mm 120psi tires on bike make a shocking difference in speed
    • communication: phone (Red Pocket, 2.50/month!), library email/wifi, stamps
    • art: books, museums, guitar strings, dancing, and dollar movies
  • self-insurance: rainy day fund/personal bank. Study hygiene to eliminate health concerns and costs
  • savings: invest in income-producing asset (real estate, precious metal, crypto, stock, etc)


  • nearly any kind of honest work is enjoyable 6-12 hrs/week. And with so little pressure to make money, you can be pickier about how you make it. Cool, marginal opportunities become enough.
  • until you know your particular purpose in the world, your purpose is to find your purpose. Study, experiment, confer, travel. Be persistent. It can take years, even decades.
  • let your standard for work be meaningfulness rather than enjoyment. Meaningful work calls us during good times and bad. Meaning is rational. Enjoyment comes and goes. Anyway, real joy doesn’t come from action but from being whole.


  • reduce expenses rather than increase income
  • learn and lead activities for free rather than pay to follow in them
  • replace having with doing, and doing with being
  • being is renewed through profound rest: solitude, silence, fasting, and/or darkness. See my homepage

Tribal Housing presents a fuller description of this economy. The context there is group residence. But the essential ideas work with non-group residences, too. The Tiny House movement has shown this.

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