Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. As we collectively celebrate freedom with family and friends, there is a whimsical feel to this particular holiday. The food, fun, and entertainment are abundant as we enjoy ourselves surrounded by those we love. Freedom has always been a cherished gift, one I hold in high esteem. But are we truly free? Do we live our daily lives free to choose? I’m not referring to government oppression or eroding rights; do we hold ourselves back from living the life we desire? Do we bind ourselves in chains of material possessions or continued preparations for the “right time” until we will be free?
I have long held the view that owning things costs far more than we realize. Beyond the initial purchase, we spend our time, money, and energy maintaining our stuff. Additionally, it often takes a great deal of space to store it all. Plus, we have to work tireless hours to do so, making it impossible to even get the chance to utilize it as we had hoped in our initial excitement of the purchase. We don’t really purchase things with dollars; rather, we purchase them with our time, and often the payments come with a hidden installment plan we forget about. Everything we own ends up owning us right back. The Eagles sum it up well with their line, “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains / And we never even know we have the key.” Although they are referring to love, I believe the love of freedom is applicable.
I watched my own parents struggle and finally get to a point where economic burdens eased up. They reached a point where financial freedom started to look realistic. They saved and put away for a future retirement wherein they planned on being able to take advantage of life and truly enjoy living. Well, while it was a noble and traditional plan, things didn’t exactly work out the way they had envisioned. Instead, my mom ended up getting sick. Much energy, time, and money was used in the last years of her life, and she never really got to experience what she had long dreamt of. My dad’s health has suffered tremendously, and while he’s been able to do some living, it isn’t the life I believe he had envisioned. If anyone has worked hard and deserved the payoff of realizing his dream, it is my dad. I don’t know of a harder working, more dedicated, and more loyal person.
I’ve always marched to my own drum and like doing things a little differently. This has sometimes cost me more through the learning curve than it might have to just go with the crowd. But it just isn’t my way. I’ve never been one to fully accept the traditional way and march lockstep blindly down the path. In some ways, I guess, I have never felt like I completely fit in—not necessarily in a bad way. Quite to the contrary. I like seeing the big picture and pursuing things I am truly passionate about rather than just going through the motions. The mundaneness of every day being the same routine is stifling to my spirit.
I feel the Founding Fathers had people like me in mind when they penned the phrase, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” into the Declaration of Independence. My happiness comes from having the autonomy to make my own choices, being able to live according to my convictions with a bit of a maverick attitude.
I have enjoyed living my dreams in the present rather than putting off the dream for another stage of life. I have gotten caught up in the rat race at different stages and lost sight of my dreams from time to time, but something always brings me back around. It is like I have a destiny to live a different life than the masses. One dream I have had for nearly a decade is to live a Tiny Living Lifestyle. The dream first made its way to me when I was making well into the six-figures (now, I would have to utilize the zeros to the right of the decimal to even get to five figures). I was married with five boys (which perhaps is a contributing factor to my being divorced). I realized I was making great money but wasn’t really enjoying the lifestyle. Money and material things aren’t what drive me. It’s always been an internal satisfaction that fuels my motives. Pursuing a dream and living it in the present gives me energy.
As I embark on the commitment of living a tiny home lifestyle, I find myself reflecting on what is important. Taking an inventory of the crucial priorities in my life has me pausing to consider the relationships that are most significant to me. It has me determining what items are important to have. The space in living tiny only allows for those things that are essential and highly utilized. It also appears to open up the time and availability to nurture the relationships that perhaps have been neglected. For me, it offers the freedom to focus on the things that bring me the most joy in life. Even if one is not considering downsizing in such an undertaking, it is worth evaluating and itemizing what matters and what does not. Purging the things that take up time, space, and energy without bringing true happiness is worth the investment regardless of conditions. Allowing your time, space, and energy to be applied to areas that bring you joy and happiness is an investment in yourself.
For me, I intend to first address the freedom that comes with my tiny living lifestyle: first, the freedom of eliminating “stuff” that consumes me without offering invigoration, then on to considering freedom to move about with autonomy. Whether being in a more permanent location (is there really such a thing?) or being able to take my home with me for a weekend getaway, it offers some sense of freedom that is difficult to explain. Being able to move (although, I don’t really think I will) and take my home with me provides a sense of security and adventure I don’t find in owning a traditional home (plus, I don’t feel it is ever truly owned). Hell, it might just be the idea of knowing I can take my home with me during the coming zombie apocalypse that appeals most to me (kidding, mostly).
My experience has taught me it is not how big the home is that matters. I’ve lived in variously sized homes, in different situations, and with a mixture of company throughout my life. I have realized it is how happy the home is that counts. With the realization that I am my own home and it is my happiness that will determine how I feel in my environment, this is my priority. A quote with deep impact and meaning to me is, “Wherever you go, there you are.” This, along with the saying, “Home is where you hang your hat,” seems to be extremely applicable to my mindset. Of course, with a tiny home, I might have to limit the number of hats I wear, as well.
So, as I “clean house” by taking inventory of what matters to me, I encourage others to reflect on what matters most in your lives. What brings you joy and happiness? Are you engaging in the activities that allow you to be free? Are you living your life to the fullest? Do you feel alive? Are there things (items, schedules, clutter) that you could clear out of your life that would provide you more time and energy to enrich your life as you pursue your happiness?
I encourage you to make a self-declaration of independence, find what truly makes you happy, and set your spirit free.
Make it count!
Tiny Living in a Giant World is all about sharing ideas, ideals, and experiences related to living essentially, happily, gratefully, and simply; presenting methods in which one can apply to living a more meaningful and purposeful life to the level determined individually suitable; and exploring simple living while living fully.
George Scott is a single dad living the tiny home lifestyle with his son and their dog. George states, “Simplicity doesn’t mean having nothing. It’s not about sacrifice; rather, it’s about eliminating clutter (tangible non-utilized items, over-extended schedules and commitments, etc) and allowing for the meaningful (life-breathing activities and relationships). Though in its infancy, the tiny home movement is poised to be one of the biggest housing trends in the coming years. People from all demographics are making the move for varying reasons. One does not need to live in a tiny home to apply many of the principles employed. The areas of particular interest for engaging in this adventure and nature of this column stem from several perspectives: mobility/freedom, affordability/economics, simplicity, sustainability/environmental impact, and self-sufficiency.” Join in the discussion here, or find George at www.facebook.com/tinylivingworld, or email him at [email protected].