A week ago I walked by a pond and burst into tears. I’m not an explosive crier, tears usually come slowly for me, so I knew something was wrong. I was exploring a new walking trail. I stopped at the water’s edge. I saw the ducks and the trees and I wept. Like an idiot. At the sight of a glorified puddle. You can laugh, but The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in all its glory has nothing on a little slice of actual nature. I wanted to be part of it, and I couldn’t be. Not yet. This sort of thing happens more as I get closer to building my tiny house, purging my belongings, and ridding myself of debt forever. I feel the separation from where I belong. I’m being called, and I can’t answer. I don’t know how, and I want to learn. That’s why the tiny house is so important. But I’m an easily distracted person, and life as it is now is one big distraction. I have a job, a mortgage, too much debt and not enough value, two degrees and no career. Very little of what(who) I have holds any meaning for me. There’s boyfriend, boyfriend’s daughter, 2 old cats, one young cat sans leg, one old dog complete with heart murmur, family, friend(s), books, and ideas. If everything else burned to the ground I’d heave two more decorative mirrors onto the pyre and cry tears of relief. Products don’t fulfill people. If they did, no one would buy the newer, faster, lighter, bigger gadget, because they wouldn’t need to. Sadly, in the end, it’s all empty emotional calories.
For me, this realization, this change of heart from avid consumerist to struggling minimalist came slowly. I got married at 20, I bought a house, I got a dog, I got a job, I went to church, I went to college and damn it, I majored in something practical because those things gave me status; those things made me “normal”. Now with a divorce and more than a decade of perspective between me and that woman/girl, I realize just how dissatisfied I really was, even with all I had going for me. When I began to get a sense of what I was missing (see Thoreau), my dissatisfaction turned into misery. And misery, as it always does, forced me to make a choice. I could either A.) sit still and waste away, B.) try and be content where I was, or C.) pursue my life’s satisfaction by selling most of my belongings and living as simply as possible. C is the hardest. It is the least glamorous. That’s why there are so many miserable people in the world hoping they get that big promotion, spending money as fast as they can make it, and stuffing every purchase into that purpose-shaped hole in their heart (cliche; also, spoiler: nothing but an actual life’s purpose will fit that hole). I tried A for a while, but I could only dedicate 24 hours out of a month to being truly wretched, and they weren’t even 24 hours together. B seemed like a legitimately brave option, but it also involved lying to myself, and I’m not very good at that. C was all I had left.
I wanted to have some guru-like wisdom to lay down here, something profound and mysterious to help anyone reading this let go of their materialism and embrace a life of nomadic semi-solitude and simplicity. In truth, I got to this point, because I had no other options that involved being both sane and happy. I want it understood that I am not without some sense of my own advantages (for more on the privilege of minimalism check out this concise article by Jenn Sutherland-Miller). I have all I need to live as a lower-middle-class American should; I try to be thankful and remember that I’m better off than most. Gratitude is important, but if I’m not careful it can easily turn into an excuse: an excuse to stay at a job I hate, to maintain a relationship that tears me down, to amass piles of debt, to live a mediocre, uneventful life. I don’t want that for myself, and I know that better things await me.
So I’m taking action, dumping my stagnation-disguised-as-obligation, and allowing myself to get well and truly fed up. If you’re perfectly happy in your life you won’t be able to empathize with what I’m talking about. It means you’re doing great, and you don’t need to change a thing. But if at some point during this post you felt a twinge of recognition, then start listening. Listen to when you’re unhappy and to what pisses you off. Stop holding back the anger, the disappointment, the frustration, and for god’s sake, if you want to cry at the sight of a grimy, algae-covered pond then do it. Don’t bury the whole point of your existence under one more trip to the mall, another Zumba class or by taking on more work at the office. Instead, focus your emotions. Let them drive you to fulfill your minimalist, nomadic goals. I want this blog to be a part of that, for me and for any readers that cross its path. I’m not going to keep any ugly truths to myself. I’m going to write about tight finances, long nights, fear of failure, composting toilets, arguments, legal problems, and the solution to every crisis I face (if I can find one). If writing about my dilemmas will help others going through the same difficulties, or if it can save someone time by making sure they avoid the obstacle completely, then I’ve found at least one substantial purpose. And if you get out there into the wild in your tiny house and you’re still wondering what the hell your life’s purpose is, don’t worry. There’s something about the wilderness that has a way of clearing all blockages. You’ll know. But you have to get there first.