The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

13 January 2013

Simply, the only way to go

That was an intentional comma.

Do you know the TED series?  Short talks on various topics... I'm not even sure who or what TED is.  I hope it's not something I'm going to have to oppose once I learn what it's all about.  Until then, I'm enjoying (most of) the talks I've watched. (Some of them are very very guilt-to-all-who-don't-hug-trees-and-eat-granola).

This particular talk was about how to solve traffic congestion.  It's a big problem because there are so many cars on the road and we are becoming more and more dependent on driving everywhere. Interestingly, the speaker was Bill Ford, great grandson of the Mr. Ford. He happens to love cars but is also concerned about the environment. As he said in his talk, we can combat the emissions problem, but a traffic jam is still a traffic jam. Then he showed a picture of the craziest thing I've ever seen: a traffic jam that stretched for 60 miles and lasted for 11 days. Can you imagine being stuck in your car for 11 days? Mr. Ford also told us that on average, people in Beijing spend five hours commuting a day. I tell you, a major factor in my decision to move from New Town is because it’s too big and traffic irks me. I’m looking forward to being back in Sohoe and dawdling along the country lanes.

Then, this evening, I started looking through a book I brought home from the library (my supplier) earlier in the week: Tiny homes : simple shelter by Lloyd Kahn. Apparently microhomes is a growing movement. People are choosing to live in truly tiny homes hovering around the 100 square foot mark. They are embracing simplicity and enjoying the resulting freedom. When finding space for one object means getting rid of another, you begin to question whether you need it – or either. The book shows cob houses, timber frame homes, yurts, converted horse boxes, narrow canal boats, straw bale constructions. Many were made with reclaimed materials, resulting in costs as low as $200 for the entire build.

While I marveled at the unique homes for their ingenious architecture, I was also drawn to the simplicity inherent in living in such places. One home owner in the book explains the process she and her husband took, progressing from a typical suburban lifestyle, to a home of roughly 125 square feet, and the result: “Purging our lives of clutter and debt has not only made us happier, but we have purchased less stuff. Since we started the downsizing process, we feel psychologically ‘lighter’.”

I’m sure microhomes have their own challenges and are certainly not for everyone. I’m not sure they’re for me, even. I do try to live simply, and as I look around my flat with an eye to packing once more, I think I’m doing pretty well. I will be carefully considering each little thing before I go to the trouble of moving it, however. It has to earn its way into a box by being essential.

Regardless the size of home we live in, I do believe most emphatically that many of us are suffering from having too much, doing too much, wanting too much. If you have to sit in traffic for five hours a day to support your lifestyle, something has gone seriously wrong!

I think of the monks of Chartreuse, praying, working, eating, reading, in their cells. When I do, I feel such peace and contentment. I am determined to have that atmosphere in my own life, though I live and work in the world. For me, it is simply the only way to go.


  1. Such a fascinating concept. I was talking to a friend yesterday and she said that an acquaintance of hers had a home that was destroyed by fire. She'd lost everything! But when talking with her acquaintance, she had said that losing everything she owned was particularly freeing.

    I am very sure that at certain points this friend of hers would say "darn it, I wish I had those old scissors of mine, they worked just the way I liked them" or "those were my favourite pair of pants" - but all in all, I can agree with her.

  2. Me too!
    Having things, and enjoying my things isn't wrong... I just don't want to be weighed down by them. Many people in the tiny homes book talk about the freedom they have because they're not working for their house or their possessions.

  3. Thank you for the reminder that we, my wife and I, need to cast out much of what we own. I have always maintained that if you don't use something within a year, it must go.