Nature Abhors a Vacuum: Simplicity and Minimalism
He who would travel happily must travel light.
~~Antoine de St. Exupery
Whenever people find out I live in a vehicle, they inevitably ask me “WHY?” I have a very simple one-word answer: freedom. I want to be able to live the way I want to live, where I want to live and how I want to live and not as just another one of societies drones.
A huge part of making that happen is adapting simplicity and minimalism as a way of life. You may ask, “What do they have to do with freedom?” Just think about how much your life revolves around your “stuff,” your myriad possessions that you just can’t live without. You work at a job (that you probably don’t like) to buy the stuff, then you have to pay rent or a mortgage to have the room to warehouse your stuff. The main reason you have to work so much is because of ‘’stuff.” Think about how much freedom you could gain if you got rid of all that stuff and lived in a van. You could work half as much you do now and own lots more of your time.
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else,
that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
~~ Bertrand Russell
Many of us want to be able to travel and see more of the country and world. But our stuff holds us back. We can’t just get-up-and-go, because what are we going to do about all our stuff? That stuff ties us down to one job, in one town and we aren’t free to do anything else.
The reason I’ve been thinking about stuff limiting our freedom, is because my accumulation of stuff has grown so large, it is limiting my freedom, and I don’t like it! For 2 ½ years I lived in a homebuilt camper on my Ford F150 pickup. It was tiny! It measured 6×7 feet and everything I owned in the world was in it, so I simply couldn’t have much stuff. It was almost comical when I first started out. I had so much extra stuff in the camper that every day I had to find a thrift store and donate stuff. I left a breadcrumb trail of stuff all the way across the country from North Carolina to Arizona. Finally I got it down to pretty much the minimum necessary to live and I was quite happy.
It really is true that nature abhors a vacuum. All that empty space in the trailer and pickup bed seemed to demand I get some stuff to fill it, and who am I to argue with Mother Nature! So slowly the trailer got full and the pickup bed got full and I realized one day, “I’ve got a bunch of stuff!!”
I became really aware of how much stuff I had when it was time to break camp and move to a new location. It took me hours to pack everything away outside the trailer and even more hours to get everything secured inside the trailer so it wouldn’t go flying as I drove. Having to spend a full day packing things to break camp really limits my freedom! In the old days when I lived in the camper shell, I could break camp in less than one hour, now it took me all day.
That was really driven home to me by camping with Steve and Cheri. They could both break camp and be ready to drive away in an hour while I spent the whole day getting ready. I find myself dreading moving and looking for excuses to stay in one spot. That’s not freedom.
So it’s time to start another Purge of Stuff. The problem is that all the stuff I’ve added makes my life more comfortable, so I don’t want to get rid of it. BUT! I love my life so much; I won’t risk it for anything! I’ll gladly give it all away to keep the incredible life I have!! Bottom line: here I go again, examining everything I own and demanding it justify the space it takes up. If I can’t justify it, to the thrift store it goes!! Bob