The other morning my 17 year old son stated it would be cool to live in one of those tiny houses that are popping up. It didn’t really surprise me. He has always expressed an interest in living simply, providing for himself from the land, being bound up with nature for survival. Sometimes I wonder if there are others his age who are feeling the same need for freedom from our consumer society–youth and young adults who want to escape the marketing ploys and the ‘climb-the-ladder’ mentality of the American way of life. People who want to live with purpose that they determine, not held to a standard of success that is manufactured by a society obsessed with money and power. I know there are people who are already living this lifestyle. What if it became our cultural norm–less stuff, more purpose?
I took notice as I filled my car with items to donate to the rummage sale. Where would I put everything if a tiny house was my living space? What things did I really need? What treasures did I want to hold on to? What would serve my purpose and define success on my terms? What do those words – purpose and success – even mean to me?
From the looks of our sanctuary right now, society-at-large is not ready for this shift. Mounds of items have arrived over the past 3 days, filling the sanctuary and foyer and spilling into the hallways and front porch. It is obvious that some are items that we have outgrown or replaced with the newer version. Some things are just in the way as we redecorate or repurpose a room in our homes. And of course it is better to sell things off than dump stuff in the landfill, especially if they will be used by another family. Yet, each year we have more stuff that gets removed from our homes and donated to charity and many times I hear people comment “I don’t know where it all comes from.”
We know where things come from. We buy them or they are gifts from friends and family. It seems to be a constant battle between more and less. We need this, but wouldn’t it be nice to not have so much stuff to dust, store, insure….And I’m just as guilty as the next person.
The tiny house movement and comments from the younger generations give me hope that there will soon be a paradigm shift where living a life of purpose and service will mean more than accumulating wealth and more stuff. This Earth Day, as I prepare to move to a new home, I am taking time to rethink my needs and wants – to look at the impact my consumption has on the planet. Some people refer to it as simplifying their lives. It sure isn’t simple for me, but I invite you to join me in the journey.