I just watched a documentary called: TINY. It was interesting to me because I have enjoyed the concept of compact living for a LONG time. I saw an RV with a washing machine inside once, as a kid, and I thought, "What? People LIVE like this? Cool!"
I like train life, plane life, the cabs on trucks, motor homes, etc. I even liked dorm life. The essentials, creatively accounted for, in a small space. It makes me a little hot and bothered, honestly. I studied industrial design probably because of this.
This video basically encapsulates all that I love about it. Living lean and creatively, without feeling like I "can't afford" it. That's the thing. I know I could live in a hut, like 2/3 of the world does (mostly involuntarily--but check out Shiguru Ban), but that's not really what I crave or find appealing. I just like the design concept of each feature having three uses, flexibility of space, and reflecting a desire for ecological care in housing, without compromise of the important
I have lived (well, 'spent time' is more respectful, I think) in a variety of small and simple ways. From huts in Africa to abandoned cement buildings in Honduras, to people-crammed homes in Israel, to simple caravans in Scotland, I have enjoyed the pared-down homes that I have been welcomed into.
I enjoyed not having boxes of stuff everywhere. I have loved not needing additional space for things I am saving (why do we want to save things? Why do I, more importantly...another post...). I liked a cleaning session only lasting minutes, instead of hours. I have loved the smiling (or even not smiling) faces of people I love spending time with. I have loved the homes filled with music, delicious food smells, fresh rain and freshly picked food (from feet away!).
I guess I have always wanted a more simple life, filled with what matters and most of the time that seems to include a much smaller house (but to be fair, in most of the above places, it also involves much larger common/shared spaces and nicer weather, or an easier time being outside).
I also am thinking about our financial freedom and that would ultimately include other freedoms like the ability to travel, work in remote locations, afford college for kids if they wanted, and generally be as generous as we want to be. Those are big things to me/us.
Here's the but...
I romanticize a life with less. A lot. Is it chicken or egg? Would living small create a calmer kid, or do we have the amazing sleeping kid we have because we don't live small (because he can sleep soundlessly far away from us, and frankly so can we!)? Does having the space we crave bring us closer or would living in a small space create an even closer relationship? Would living closer to people make us engage more, or has living farther away from the people we love forced us to learn to engage as intentionally as we can, so that we can have the community we crave? I think about this a lot.
And maybe living small, for us at least, is an experience we will have later, when our kids are older and can contribute to the decision intentionally (so we're not forcing them to live in a way counter to their personalities and therefore creating unnecessary stress for all) .
I came to this because a part of me, right now, wants space. Lots of space. As an empathetic extrovert, it can be hard to tear myself away from people because I love them (as a group and as individuals) so much. Heartbreakingly so. And I need downtime from them (like I learned K does as well). Even in my own home of extroverts. Living in 100 square feet would be too challenging. And frankly, loud and hard to escape. Which I like to do sometimes.
I've been reading about Minimalism and many folks say it isn't about deprivation, it's about living with less than you have right now...oh! I can do *that*. I unconsciously spread out in my house because empty space is challenging. But can I simplify more? You bet. Can I focus on the aforementioned smiling faces, delicious smells, and room to breathe and get rid of the stuff that isn't serving me? Hell yeah. Can I live happily and comfortably in a house half the size? YES! Minimalism isn't about no possessions or concrete floors in Soho Lofts. It's subjective. I can do that.
It's been hard to let go of a lot of my ideals of parenting. That's been a running theme during my journey so far. I am getting to know the person I actually am, rather than clutching so tightly to the person I think I want (and should) be. In addition to that, I am learning to allow my kid to be the way HE is, even though many times it has clashed so harshly with my ideals. There's that definite part of me that wants to push through and really force my ideals onto K. I have to admit that, lest you think I can and do gracefully accept all that has changed in my life and shown up in my kid. We throw things away that I'd never throw away before. We eat things I didn't want to eat. We stayed in disposables. We have two cars...the list of things I have let go of, ideal-wise, is long and a bit depressing. I have to make the silver lining of letting go of those ideals be that I am now more open to what is actually in front of me. And it allows me to find gifts I may not have found in simply holding tightly to my ideals. Sometimes giving up my eco-warrior status is heart-breaking and what makes up for it (sort of) is that my compassion for others (and myself) has widened. I need to believe that's how it works. Instead of a kid who just follows along (or is forced to follow along) on my path, I have a kid on his own path. That's cool, too.
Letting go of things, ideals, parts of me, beliefs, etc., has been an interesting process...and mostly it involves a "forever" kind of letting go. But for now, this letting go of living really small, can be revisited at another time. Maybe when the kids are grown. Maybe when we become a traveling troupe. Maybe when we've let go of more things and beliefs.