Downsize It

American Dream

I subscribe to a blog site called Tiny Houses.  It represents the trend of a group of people in our culture who have reversed the American Dream.  Rather than endorsing the “He who dies with the most toys wins” notion, they have adopted the philosophy “Less is More.”

My grandparents and parents lived through the depression.  They experienced the crash of our economy and the horrors of WWII and survived.  They came out the back side of those life changing events with a powerful determination to succeed and prosper in the post war economy.  And they did.  My Dad worked long hours and took few vacations in order to build a small business that would support his family and send three kids to college.

I grew up with everything I needed.  We were not affluent but comfortable.  In my family education and hard work were revered as the pathways to success.  It was considered bad taste to flaunt your financial achievement.  Enhancing that direction of my upbringing, I was drawn to the counter-culture movement of the 60’s and 70’s.  We “hippie-types” turned back our clocks and adopted a bohemian life-style.  We said “no” to the conventional life-style of those who chose to continue down the path of our parents.  For some it was a firm “no” and they moved out of the cities to live in self-sustaining communes.  For others, like me, it was a soft “no.”  I moved to the country and grew my own vegetables and raised animals and kids but I worked within the system as a teacher.  When my husband started making money in real estate, we didn’t give it to the poor…we invested it and spent it.

During the eighties and nineties there was an escalation in spending and the economy thrived.  The development of technological wonders like the iPhone seemed to have the paradoxical effect of connecting us while isolating us at the same time.  Advanced technology gives us the ability to collect merchandise with ease.  Amazon and EBay are like putting a bar in an alcoholic’s bedroom.  We master consumers devour more and more even though the economy teeters on the brink of disaster.  We super-size everything.

So I am charmed by Tiny Houses and all that the movement exemplifies.  It is a return to sanity and it signifies a reconnection to the earth and recognition of the simultaneous vulnerability and strength of our ecosystem.  Beyond that is the personal experience of living with less.  It begs the question, “What do I REALLY need?”  Are thirty pairs of shoes really necessary?  Multiples of everything…really?  What would it feel like if I got rid of all the excess and kept only the bare minimum?

Addictions are not easy to manage.  Support from like-minded others and fierce determination are helpful.  Do the advantages weight enough to tip the scales?  I am resolute in my decision to down-size my life.  I want less of these things that surround me and more of a feeling of freedom.  I remember how it felt to leave behind a thirty-year collection of “stuff” four years ago and I want that feeling again.  It felt clean and light, unfettered and free.

When my canvas is clean, creativity can express itself in unlimited ways.

To life a simple life without the trappings of monetary success feels like a pathway to peace.

Perhaps a simple life is a state of mind and has nothing to do with the material belongings one collects.

I recognize that for me, the things that take up space around me take up my energy and time as well.

The less I have, the more I have…of what really matters.

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