For Trail, part of this adventure was changing to a lifestyle with less stuff. She had been reading about tiny houses, minimalism, and folks downsizing and found the idea compelling. For me (Hitch) that has never been a priority. My interest was foremost in starting a business of my own and secondly to travel widely.
That said, I do have a number of thoughts on the subject of stuff, minimalism, the environment and lifestyle. I think this adventure will probably give me a number of new insights and I’d like to put down my current thoughts so I can compare them to my thinking after I’ve had some real time on the road.
I do think there is a nobility in living and thriving efficiently, avoiding waste and excess. I don’t think a meaningful life is found by dying with the most stuff as some seem to. Being concerned about conservation and the environment is a worthy pursuit that benefits others as well as yourself.
On the other hand, luxuries and entertainment are the hallmarks of high culture and the impetus of many of society’s great advancements. The pursuit of leisure time opens us to moments of creativity and self-improvement in a way that constant toil tends not to. Much of what gives us joy and meaning is not the bare necessities of life but what we can embellish it with.
I think any prescription should not be applied to everyone. We should not all live lives with nothing more than only the essentials, nor should we all strive to be tycoons of industry or world famous leaders. Those pursuing these objectives often thinks everyone else should too. My advice is to try and find your own balance, and also to realize life is long enough to change, you can be ambitious in one season of life and austere in another.
I think society needs both extremes and a good deal of ground in the middle. You need people with grand ambition and you need folks with their feet firmly planted. Personally, I’d say I’m more on the minimalist end of the spectrum, at least compared to the typical American. I tend to think of myself as a “bad consumer.” Even when I think I buy a lot of stuff, compared to others I know into the same passions, I tend to have a lot less. I do tend to have some wide-ranging interests and somewhat expensive tastes so I certainly do my part cycling money back into the economy.
I would not call what we are doing minimalist. We have a fancy truck, soon a very expensive trailer, and a number of fancy toys along with life’s necessities. It is, however, a lifestyle that consumes a lot less energy than what we did before and conservation of water and electricity are simply a necessary part of the lifestyle. The amount we can own is effectively limited by what we can carry.
I’d like to think I’ll do more and enjoy more with less. Time will tell.