I have a confession. I’ve become obsessed. No, it’s not with another person, or a video game, or a food. Well, I do like chocolate a lot, but that’s normal.
No, my obsession is with Tiny Houses.
I love them. I can’t stop thinking about them. I’ve watched every episode of “Tiny House Nation” on FYI at least twice. OK, so there are only four episodes, but they’re an hour long. I’ve also watched the documentary “Tiny”. And that’s not all; I’ve been reading blogs on Tiny Houses. I downloaded a book about one woman’s experience right-sizing her life so she and her husband could move into a 187-square foot house built on a trailer. I’ve studied the Tumbleweed website front to back. I’ve pored over floor plans, watched YouTube videos about micro apartments in New York. I even contemplated going to a Tiny House workshop scheduled near me next month.
Please understand, I don’t live in a large house. My home is 1,000 square feet, plus an attic and a very large crawl space. I do, however, have a lot of stuff. And a mortgage that stretches on for years. I look at these people who are living so happily in their 300 square foot homes with their carefully selected belongings and I wonder, what is it that makes their lifestyle so appealing?
I figured it out the other day. It’s really quite simple.
Most of them have chosen to live quite consciously, with less stuff, in less expensive houses. Many of these Tiny House pioneers don’t have mortgages. Their homes are paid for upfront or over a very short amount of time. Their utility costs are negligible, in most cases. Many of the interviews I’ve read or watched were inspiring. The Tiny Housers wanted simpler lives, so they could connect with their communities, spend time with family, volunteer and travel. They chose living in a small house so they could do all these things instead of spending an average of an hour a day commuting to a job just to pay for more stuff.
Tiny Housers often talk about the simple pleasures they now have time to enjoy: coffee with a dear friend, talking with their loved ones, spending time in nature. They speak about the rewards this kind of life affords them.
Reward. I think many of us misuse this word. So many of us get home after our commute to the suburbs, too mentally and emotionally drained to carry on a conversation, so we reward ourselves by zoning out in front of the television. We reward ourselves by going to the mall to purchase something, anything, that will give us a lift. We reward ourselves by having a beer or two so that we can unwind.
Is that really rewarding? I’m beginning to rethink my definition of the word.
I’ve been looking around my house recently, taking note of all the stuff that I’ve accumulated; all the rewards I’ve given myself over the years. I’ve starting casually gathering things up that I can give to a charity. I’ve thrown away a few things that have outlived their usefulness. And this weekend, I plan to do more of that. I like the idea of clearing out the clutter and identifying the real treasures. I like the idea of right sizing my life so that I could possibly move into a house that would offer me more freedom.
So maybe it’s not the Tiny Houses that I’ve become obsessed with; maybe it’s really the idea of freedom.
Freedom . . . now that’s my idea of a reward!