Tag Archives: freedom

How I Discovered Minimalism

Notice that I didn’t call this “How I Became a Minimalist.” While I’m certainly displaying tendencies in that direction, I’m not quite sure I deserve to wear the label “minimalist” — at least not yet.

Making Changes

All of us who are or who aspire to be minimalists have our own reasons for initially seeking this path. Often as we learn more, our own point of view changes, and along with it, some of our goals take different shapes and priorities.

When I made the decision several years ago to move from a three-bedroom house to a tiny motorhome, many people considered that to be a very minimalist move. I suppose it was, seeing as I parted with over 90% of my possessions to do so. Would I miss them? Would I feel deprived?

A New Feeling

Guess what? Instead of feeling deprived, I felt liberated. Free of the clutter. Free of the responsibility of maintaining and protecting it all. Free of the fear of it being stolen or damaged. No more spending weeks (or months!) packing and unpacking if I had to move.

Clutter Returns

I was feeling liberated by my tiny mobile dwelling and my lack of stuff. So far so good. I wasn’t really thinking too much about it as a lifestyle or a philosophy, though. I just sort of lived my life. Now and then I’d realize I needed something I lacked, or, more often, I just wanted something I saw, and eventually, after a few years, I realized that I’d accumulated an awful lot of stuff in my tiny home! Uh-oh. Not so liberating anymore. Especially when moving was taking nearly a week of rearranging and cramming so as to make this thing drivable, and then a half a day of unpacking and rearranging just to be able to use my bed, kitchen, and toilet once I’d arrived at my next destination.

A New Quest

It seems that when I had first downsized and simplified, I hadn’t made the necessary changes in my habits and behavior to sustain that simplicity. Funny how clutter can creep up like that. A trinket here and a gadget there doesn’t seem like much at the time, but they slowly, almost imperceptibly accumulate until suddenly you look around one day and go WTF? I wanted to get back that feeling of freedom and serenity.  I consulted my favorite research tool, the internet, looking not only for decluttering tips, support, and inspiration, but perhaps some help on figuring out how, once I get things back to how I’d like them to be, to have them stay that way.

A New Community

I found a small but thriving (and growing) community of bloggers, most of them calling themselves minimalists, each at his or her own stage of dealing with a similar situation, and sharing their experiences for each other and anyone else to benefit from. In addition to practical how-to advice, I was also reading about  why and about the results and how entire lives were being changed, enriched by removing needless clutter and excess material goods. As I became more involved, and started participating in the comments, I found not only inspiration for my decluttering challenges, but also a renewed interest in my own blog.

Thank You!

I’d like to express my thanks to this community, of which I now feel I am at least a small part, for not only all your words, but for inspiring me to write more of my own words. You’ll find most of the blogs that I regularly read are listed in the blogroll in the right-hand column. Maybe you’ll find some you haven’t visited before, or haven’t visited lately. And thank you to my readers and commenters, who remind me that my own blogging is a worthy endeavor.

My Current Goal

My immediate goal, at least with regards to stuff, is to get things to the point where I could easily pick up and go at any time, with a minimum of hassle. I want to be able, while in traveling mode, to still have access to all the necessities without that sensation of being in a tile puzzle.  The closer I get to that goal (which, looking around me, is still a ways off), and the more I work on decluttering, minimizing, and simplifying, the more I seem to be absorbing of the deeper meaning of minimalism. Not just decluttering, but why. I’m seeing how I am not defined by what I own, and how too much of it can weigh me down, and getting rid of the excess sets me free. And not just the physical things, either, but how simplifying life and my approach to living it makes it better and gives me more time for what I want to do. So perhaps I am a minimalist after all. Or at least well on my way to becoming one.

How about you?

Do you consider yourself a minimalist, or at least seeking that path? Do you maybe lean in that direction, but prefer a different label? Do you find yourself occasionally straying from your chosen path, and need that occasional jolt of reality (or reading about someone else’s) to set you right again? What is your immediate or next goal?

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Long overdue writing :)

It sure has been a while, no?  Right now, I’m in Tonopah, Arizona. That’s about 50 miles west of Phoenix. Some of you may be thinking “If your house has wheels, why would you stay in the desert for the summer?”  Well… that’s a good question.  I suppose I could say that I’m used to it because I’ve already spent 30 summers in the Arizona desert, and it would be true. Anyway, I kinda have to stay here for medical reasons. Remember a while back I said I might have ended up truly homeless, or “camping” at an urban Wal*Mart?  Well, that really could have happened. Luckily, I’d already been planning for the “RV Lifestyle”, had acquired my rig, and started fixing it up, etc. But really I was so close to being homeless and in the streets.  Unfortunately some unplanned medical issues came up, leaving me unable to support myself for some time. That’s the “could have been homeless” part. While things are improving, I still need doctors and treatments frequently enough that I have to stay relatively close to “the big city” to deal with those issues. Eventually when my medical concerns are more stable, I hope to be able to venture farther away from “home” for longer periods.  We’ll see – for now I’ll do what I am able. 

  Anyhow, on to more pleasant thoughts…. Been doing some good stuff lately. I’m planning to go to Williams AZ for the Hamfest (convention for Amateur Radio enthusiasts), and in anticipation I’ve been trying to get my ham station and my solar power all set up and doing what I want.

Of course I’m learning that no matter how good it looks on paper, some stuff is just worthless in practice. A lot of stuff I thought I’d need is gonna be sold at the hamfest or donated to the thrift store. And there’s other stuff I wish I had.

 But all in all, life is good, and could be a lot worse. Right now I’m a caretaker for a private property. I keep a general eye on things, manage the irrigation, and perform occasional repairs and maintenance. In return I get a place to park including water and electricity. The owners are are great, and a  BIG bonus is that the property is “clothing optional” so the only time I have to think about wearing clothes it once in a while when the inevitable shopping trip into town is needed. It’s hard to put a price on not having to wear clothes 🙂 When I took this gig, I was mostly interested in being able to stay reasonably close to Phoenix, and the nude thing was just a cool perk. But now after spendng a while here I think I’m getting spoiled. “Nude Friendly” may be a requirement for my next situation.

You’re going to do WHAT?!?!

As promised, here’s some more of the “back story”.  But where to begin?  When I was a child, I’d always been fascinated by the concept of a fully self-contained mobile dwelling.  Not that I really ever lost that fascination, but as a child all I could really do is fantasize.  Eventually, as a young adult, I discovered motorhomes.  Wow – it’s a fully self contained house, AND you can drive it! Or, as Homer Simpson would say, “It’s not just a motorhome; it’s a car you can go to the bathroom in!” As working young man, however,  a motorhome was pretty much out of my budget, and even if I could afford one, maybe find one cheap enough that wasn’t too beat up, where would I keep it?  I was living in apartments at the time, and apartment complexes tend to be pretty picky about what you park there, especially if it’s a big honkin’ motorhome.  Of course I was thinking of it as a “toy”, a recreational vehicle for maybe weekends and vacations or whatever. I didn’t see the obvious – live in it *instead* of the apartment.  Not that you can blame me, after all, as I mentioned before, society in general tends to approve of permanent living, and disapprove of “temporary” or transient living. A few times I got real close to actually buying one, but ultimately didn’t.

Fast-forward to a few years ago, when the thought struck me to just sell the house and everything I couldn’t take with me and move into a motor home.  Why?  Well, there was still the lingering fascination with motorhomes and the technologies involved. It seemed practical, and potentially a fairly economical way to live.  It offered freedom of location.  Ease of moving. Lots of good reasons. Why now?  Maybe a midlife crisis, or perhaps a midlife awakening. I realized just how much of my life has been spent pretty much in the same place – at least in the same city.  I realized just how much junk I’d accumulated over the years. All this stuff needs to be moved every time I move,  and it seemed I needed to keep getting bigger and bigger places for it all. Like George Carlin says, what is a home, really? It’s a place to keep your stuff!  I had a whole room full of stuff that I literally hadn’t touched in several years. I was suddenly feeling like all this stuff was getting to be more of a burden than it was worth. I wanted to downsize and minimize and simplify.

Did some reading (alot of reading, actually) on the internet about folks who’ve done that – drastic downsizing and move into a very small place – an RV, or maybe a “microhome” or something like that.  I don’t remember reading a single person who regretted it, even among the few who eventually went back to a more “normal” lifestyle.  They found it cleansing and liberating.  Free of the responsibilities of “stuff”.  Free of the hassles of cleaning and maintaining a large home and yard, and the associated expenses. 

It wasn’t just that, though.  There was really an accumulation of various other factors that also helped nudge me further along.  I’m single. Do I really need a three bedroom, two bath house with a yard?  Not really, considering I actually use very little of it.  It’s just more space to clean, more to heat or cool, mortgage, taxes, all that expense and responsibility.  Add to that my neighborhood in particular, and my city in general seems to get worse each month. Higher and higher crime.  Worse and more violent crime.  Graffiti.  Litter.  Polluted air.  Just an overall unpleasant place to be.  Over a several-year span, I’d been the victim of multiple burglaries and a home-invasion robbery. 

Add to all that the fact that I’m slowly becoming burnt out in my work (I’d say “career”, but that implies a future) in the quickly dying dead-end industry of consumer electronic repair.  I mean who’s going to pay to get a DVD player fixed when you can just go buy a brand new one for $25?  And why was I working so hard? To pay the mortgage and taxes and all the other bills for a house I didn’t need in a neighborhood I didn’t want to be in.  I’ve heard “insanity” defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Well, I needed change.  Big change.  That’s when I decided I wanted to do this.

Let the blogging begin!

OK – I’ve got this thing all set up now (though I’m sure I’ll make little changes and adjustments as time goes on) so now I can finally start blogging!

 The first thing you might be wondering is what in the world does “homeless on wheels” mean?  Some of you might be picturing squatters living under a bridge in their cars.  Or the families in dilapidated old Winnebagos trying to see how long they can get away with camping out in their local inner-city Wal*Mart parking lot.  Or maybe somebody with a sign that says “will rollerskate for food”??  Well, I’m none of the above, although I suppose I could have easily wound up in one of the first two categories had the cards fallen only slightly differently than they have.  Keep reading, I’ll explain eventually.  As for that third category, I think that’s mostly urban legend.

What I am is someone without a permanent location of residence.  That would make me “homeless” in many peoples’ eyes.  In reality, however, I’m not homeless, but rather my home has wheels and I can move it where I want, when I want.  Annoying neighbors?  Boring view?  Change of pace?  Need to relocate?  Too hot?  Too cold?  I can pretty much move at the drop of a hat if I want, as frequently (or infrequently) as I want or need.  Society tends to favor permanence of location, so “freedom of location” is an unusual concept for some people to grasp at first.  Some folks even envy the concept, but can’t picture themselves doing it.  I have often heard, when telling people about my plans, “Wow, I wish I could do that”.  My (usually unspoken) reply is “why can’t you?” 

So why do I use the phrase “homeless on wheels”?  Why not?  Sounds catchier and is a heck of a lot easier to type than “guy who has no permanent residential address but has a home which happens to have wheels on it so he can easily and frequently move it at will.”

Now that I have the crucial first post up, this is finally a real blog.  More to come very soon.