Saturday, September 28, 2013

Where The Blacktop Ends - One Year Anniversary

One year and one week ago today I began this blog to chronicle my Tiny House project progress. This year has been fun, inspirational, and most importantly educational. I have learned so much about construction, electrical systems, plumbing, and the actual products that go into building a home. I have found a core group of folks who are strong proponents of the Tiny House movement. I have discovered some really great blogs written by some really great people about some really great projects.  I found some really strong arguments, both pro and co when it comes to a long-term viability of the Tiny House movement. I understand reasons for city building codes and more about how code enforcement is carried out. But the most important thing I understand is more about myself and why I am so drawn to the Tiny House movement.

It is Saturday and I am drinking my coffee while trying to build up courage to go and tackle my garage. Next week is my housing community's annual yard sale. I have decided that I am going to sell off a bunch of "stuff" and get a jump on my downsizing. I have way too much "stuff" and have found that it irritates me rather than making me feel more secure. I have furniture and such that I don't really need that has been cluttering up my garage for some time. I have entirely too much patio furniture. I have "dust collectors," chotchkies, and other useless "decorative" items that I hate having to dust  all the time. You get the picture. Anyway, I am determined to get a jump on my downsizing and get rid of all that useless detritus that just clogs up my world.

What does all this mean? Well, I think it is a direct reflection of the progress I am making toward building my Tiny House. It means that I am no longer comfortable with 1700 sq. ft. of stuff to clean, heat, and cool. I no longer find my feelings of success tied to the appearance of my home and car. I want to not wear shoes, wake to the alarm clock, fight traffic for 45 minutes to and from work, stress out about my a/c bill in the summer and my heating bill in the winter, or snarf up a quick meal because I am too tired to cook a healthy one. I no longer want to see my paycheck vanish as soon as it hits the bank to pay off bills to keep and feed this house. This year has moved me even closer to freedom.

This year has also made me keenly aware of waste. There is just so much waste in my world. Not only trash generated by things I buy from the market, but the food wasted because by the time I get home in the evening I am too tired to cook and food simply expires or spoils. My inability to find the time to bulk shop properly so that I am not buying packaged and processed foods. I am tired of running on this treadmill I have created as the result of being a child of the late 1970's and early 1980's "economic boom" that convinced us more is better and less is, well, less. One lesson it has taken me all this time to learn is that I have created a prison in what I thought would be utopia. It is time for me to jump off this carousel spinning out of control and put my feet back on terra firma.

The most significant thing I learned this year is that I am not alone. There are many, many just like me who have found the vision of the house in the sprawling suburbs to be an illusion that creates a never ending cycle of work and maintenance that is less than satisfying. They are living to work. On a Friday payday I never feel as much satisfaction as the day I put up 20 quarts of tomatoes I grew in my own garden. a Friday payday is never as satisfying as drinking a cup of coffee while watching snow falling from the comfort of a warm and well constructed home. While I love being a teacher and I feel great satisfaction and find joy in what I do, the paycheck is less that spectacular which leads me to constant financial worry. How wonderful would it be, and how much more of a focused teacher could I become, if paying the bills and maintaining this home were not such a constant concern? I can't imagine how difficult it would be if I were an hourly employee at the mercy of a manager and his/her weekly scheduling process. In that respect, I am very thankful to be a contracted, salaried employee. But the short and tall of it all is that currently I live to work. I need to be working to live.  It is time to go where the blacktop ends.