Tag Archives: Tiny Living

Choosing Simplicity

In our modern consumer culture learning to live simply, not constantly in pursuit of things, is an acquired skill.  I grew up, like many Americans, believing I had to have the fanciest, the best, and the latest I could afford; that possessions defined me and made me better.  The reality of this was far different than I had imagined.  The very moment I was the most successful in terms of wealth and “stuff,” was also the most miserable, including a descent into alcoholism.  Working hard in effort to acquire more stuff seems little more than a hollow unsatisfying effort to superficially boost ones’ self esteem.  This path, at least in my case, was diverting me from taking pleasure in life and happiness.

Living simply is not taught in the classrooms, and it is certainly not a part of our culture.  How many times have you heard, “I am being a good American and buying stuff?”  In fact, our rampant materialism and consumption seems to not only be at the core of our unhappiness, but is also destroying that which supports a happy and healthy life.  Living in a small modest RV by choice has taught me to live simply, and without the constant pangs of wanting.

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RV Envy

When we first bought our RV, even though it was older, we thought it was the coolest thing.  That was until we hit the road and began staying in RV parks, usually surrounded by much larger, fancier rigs, oozing with style.  During our evening campground strolls, we started to imagine ourselves in these rigs and took note of all the attributes that made them more desirable than ours.  At times we even felt inferior and wanted more, assuming we’d be happier with something better.  Truth is, our used Class C RV, is about as un-cool as it gets.  It does not have slides, hydraulic doohickeys, hip retro styling, satellite TV, Corian counters, or full body paint with swoosh graphics.  There are no RV groups or cult followings dedicated to generic Class C RVs that are past their prime.  Nor are we approached with compliments or curiosity about our rig.  Even though it is 24 feet long and nearly eleven feet high, it might as well be invisible.  But what it does have, it excels at:  It is paid for, and has proven to be tremendously practical.

I recall being told many years ago that no car is better than the one that is paid for.  This can be applied to just about anything, as debt, at least in my mind, is like indentured servitude. RVs can be financed for 15 years, which is a long time and not enviable.  Having our RV paid off, allows us to have this adventure and worry less about money.  One of the principles to happiness is to spend money on experiences, not stuff.  Learning to live simply has been one of the greatest benefits from this journey.

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Carpe Diem!

Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, was a phrase made popular by a widely seen film of the 1980’s, “Dead Poets Society”.  Since then the phrase has been a staple in the American lexicon.  However, what is well known is not always regularly practiced.  Most people tend to live their lives as if something better waits for them in the future, almost guaranteed.  Intellectually, we all know we will meet the reaper in the end and sometimes sooner than expected.  In fact, there are no guarantees, in a sense all we have is today.  Every day is a gift for those who are grateful.

I feel, more and more, that we all have been subjected to a great ruse.  That society has programmed us to believe certain things are important, when in the end they are utterly meaningless.  Instead of bolstering individual growth and awareness, what I feel is the true meaning of life, we are misguided to believe that comfort and wealth is synonymous with happiness.  Instead of facing the difficult task growth, a craving develops for immediate gratification and pain avoidance through a myriad of distractions.

“Life moves pretty fast, if you blink you just might miss it.”  This saying too was made popular by a 1980’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, right before embarking on one heck of an epic day.  The routines of work, shopping and entertaining oneself are comfortable, but tend to speed up life into a succession of days barely distinguishable from the prior.   Weeks turn into months, months to years and before we know it, life has slipped away with little more to show for it than drudgery, interspersed with a few milestones, some recreation, and even less excitement.

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