Written by George Scott
I have made my homelessness no secret. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of the situation. It just is what it is. It is difficult to fully determine whether my living situation is circumstance of poor choices or destiny. Either way, it is where I find myself, and I am embracing it while learning tremendous life lessons not previously absorbed otherwise. If you have read my previous articles in this column, you know I have been sharing knocks to the head and the hopeful wisdom gained from them. I have discovered a freedom in letting go of the possessions I had held so dearly while allowing in what truly provides me a joyful and rich life. I have found a way to incorporate play into my work and work into my play. This affords me opportunities I would not otherwise be able to participate in.
When sharing with others, I get excited and speak with enthusiasm and passion about all of the wonderful things going on. My happiness is obvious, relayed through the tone and zeal that jumps from my core, allowing others to actually feel the words rather than simply hear them. Then, they ask, “Where are you living?” To which I reply something like, “I am homeless.” It is fun to watch the look of bewilderment come across their face. As they search for reconciliation between the perception of happiness and the perceived need for material comforts viewed so prominently in their eyes, I assure them that I am enjoying every aspect of this experience and that the lessons are priceless. I find that there are many who own much yet are still searching for meaning, purpose, and happiness in their own lives. I don’t believe that one is exclusive of the other, but certainly neither guarantees the other.
As I share my experience with others, I have discovered that a significant number of folks have been or are in some sort of nontraditional living situation. In addition, I am finding that a tremendous number of people have an attraction to a simpler lifestyle but are uncertain of how to let go enough to allow it. For me, simplicity doesn’t mean having nothing. Rather, it is eliminating the obvious clutter (tangible non-utilized items, over-extended schedules and commitments, etc.) and allowing room for the meaningful (life-breathing activities and relationships). It is amazing to me how uncomplicated and happy my life has become as I make the transition to living more simply. Simple living provides much more time to stroll the streets of downtown, enjoy the scenery, participate in activities, and nurture relationships. If there is an afterlife, these are the “things” I believe actually can be taken with me.
Although I do not posses a home, working and playing downtown feels like home to me. There is a sense of serenity, peace, and comfort that quenches my thirst for life. I grew up here, and a piece of downtown is carried with me wherever I go. The Liberty Hotel above the old bar on St. George Blvd. no longer stands, but my fondness for downtown has not diminished. I recall attending the only movie theaters in town—The Dixie and The Electric (aka the Gaiety Theater)—as a child. Many summers were spent doing chores to earn the admission to attend the matinees where I could join friends on the balcony in watching a movie. A number of years later, I secured a job managing both theaters. By then, they were the older theaters with outdated equipment, but they were my favorite to manage and operate. The nostalgia of seeing the dates and memorabilia from those that had operated the equipment before me connected me more deeply. I could go on and on about the lure that downtown has for me with countless experiences. However, the reason why it truly feels like home is the way I feel here. The people, shop owners, and community events makes it feel like “my neighborhood.” There is a sense of community and concentrated richness to downtown that makes me feel that I belong here like no other place I have experienced.
Besides how downtown feels to me, for all intents and purposes, downtown St. George has literally been my neighborhood for the last several months. I have camped out in my truck, stayed at dive motels when finances allowed, or crashed at my office. I am far more adaptable, as I have learned to survive and even thrive with very short finances. All the while, I have kept thinking and trying to do something different. However, I am uncertain why. I have had an affection for the “tiny living” movement for years and have loved downtown all my life. I have learned to incorporate play and work. Why not integrate it all? Well, that is precisely what I intend to do.
With this in mind, I am shifting some in what I will be writing about in my “Tiny Living” column. While continuing to focus on what real happiness means and where it comes from, I want to share this journey of living more simply and how it relates. The last several years have taught me that there is very little certainty. Situations can change quickly and unexpectedly. I have no script for my intentions. Rather, this is life, and I desire to live it rather than strategize it. So things are open to change, and I will adapt as I go while sharing my experiences with others who share an interest in the subject.
Though there are reasons why I am here, the areas of interest for engaging in this adventure stem from several perspectives: mobility and freedom, affordability and reduced cost, simpler lifestyle, sustainability and reduced environmental impact or footprint, and self-sufficiency. I just plan on doing it in place that already feels like home—in the heart of downtown. In doing so, my hope is to provide an opportunity for the community to see what it looks like and how they might be able to assimilate aspects into their own lives. I am working on purchasing the RV I have been borrowing from a friend. I have also spoken to another trusted friend in the solar business about how to equip it to run off of solar energy. A little remodeling to make it more comfortable and suitable for daily living needs are in store.
I am finding that, the more clear and precise I am with my purpose and my priorities, the easier it is to discard those things that do not support them. It is not about living with nothing; it is about living more efficiently. I don’t know, perhaps I am crazy (that is a rhetorical statement), but I feel that the pull of this adventure is coming from a part of me that has been screaming to get here for a long time. Rather than fight it off any longer, I am going to embrace it, see where the ride takes me, and share the experience along the way. I will live simply, love deeply, learn much, and laugh often. I intend to live small and dream big.
Make it count.