Ramblings: small is beautiful
The weather has really changed now. There is a chill in the breeze which whispers, ‘winter is on its way’.
I needed to get my winter clothes out of storage and so I reluctantly went into the back to search through the many boxes full of clothes. I can tell you, all this cluttered storage did not spark joy. So why am I holding on to it?
Joining the movement to live in a tiny house sounds like a good idea at the moment, given the climate crisis, the cost of housing, and my desire to live simply and intentionally. I’ll let my thoughts wander a bit on this…
I have never desired to live in a small house. My parents are very diligent and loving people who worked very hard to provide such a comfortable and nurturing childhood for my sister and I. I was raised in a developing country and had deep appreciation for my parents who, despite the privileged upbringing I was given, always role-modelled integrity, honesty, courage, kindness, vulnerability, generosity, and love. We never moved houses. We were a family of four living in a home that had four bedrooms, five full bathrooms, two dining areas, a family room, a lounge room, a basement, four gardens, and a treehouse. For a time, I wished the same for a family that I would raise – a house, a yard, and a cubby.
I would have always raised a family in my hometown, an ocean away from Australia. Nevertheless, despite my best efforts to plan out my life, I’ve found myself calling Adelaide my home away from home. As the global pandemic rolls through, and work-from-home becomes a part of the new way of things, we also find an opportunity to re-evaluate the life we used to live when most work was based in offices. A movement soon emerged of families moving further away from cities, where they could enjoy larger homes and more space as sheltering in place during the pandemic was required. I missed my childhood home. I will always miss it, but during the lockdowns even more. Do I still want a large house with sprawling gardens?
Do I need to decide now? Maybe as a single person, living in a smaller home close to the city where I work and study would be the best fit for me now. Maybe with children I’d like to live somewhere in between – a house that has some extra rooms for visiting family and friends to stay, a small backyard to tend to and nurture, but still close to the city to enjoy all the activities and halfway to the hills and the ocean. Maybe in my older years I’d like to retreat into nature and live away from the city and the so-called ‘rat race’. Maybe when children are grown I can move back to the country I was born in and live out my last days there. Maybe.
“Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology toward the organic, the gentle, the elegant and beautiful.” Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, 1973
With the world opening up again, changing again, I find that once more, there is this opportunity to re-visit the manner in which I am living my life and the aspirations as I grow older. I am a mature-aged student, and it’s not long before I join the 40-year old club. What kind of fulfilling work would I like to be engaged in? What kind of life and home would I like to have?
“An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth - in short, materialism - does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.” ― Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, 1973
Over the past several weeks I reflect on this more earnestly, realising that major turning points are in the horizon, and realise that they are the same aspirations from childhood. I also hold the same values from when I was a young adult. They are values of family, of both struggle and strength, they are of valuing friendships and connections and of immersing myself in the world and playing my part in looking after it. I want a house to contain life and beautiful memories, but I want to experience much more of life before I get too old.
I have family now both here and in overseas. I will always live in those two worlds. What do I want my home to look like? Small house, beautiful life?