PG&E came out this morning to cut a couple of trees down that were about to interfere with their power lines. They were about fifty feet from my house along the driveway that runs parallel to our property. Both trees were about 80 feet tall. Usually tree cutters bring along a wood chipper to clean up, but this time the trees were cut into ten foot stumps and left behind. I don’t know if the workers will be back to remove them, so I went out to have a look.
I tried counting the rings to figure out how old they were. There were so many, I lost track, so I estimated each one must have lived there for at least a hundred years — long before any houses were built next to them.
If they could talk, what kinds of stories could these lovely pine trees tell? Did their branches ever provide a home for the birds to raise their young? How many deer stopped to feed on their leaves? Now they will become muIch or firewood. There are so many pine trees around here, those two won’t be missed but I’ll know they’re gone. I will miss their essence.
In the mornings when I take my dogs for their walk, I acknowledge the trees that surround my property and say “thank you” for providing me with fresh air and afternoon shade. When I stop and close my eyes, I can hear the wind rustle their leaves. It becomes my moment of Zen.
There’s a new movement starting and people from all ages seem to be participating. It’s called Tiny Living. They are a segment of the population that’s trading in all their “stuff” including a huge mortgage, to live a more enjoyable and less stressful life. There is a subgroup: Minimalists and they live a Zen life. They only have minimal possessions. You won’t find chachkies in their tiny dwelling. I found their homes to sterile for my taste. Then there are the full-time RVers. They are people (some with children) who live in their RVs. and live a nomadic lifestyle aka: Wanderlust.
I’ve been following this trend on You Tube because the idea intrigues me, however the logistics won’t work for me. Hubby and I will have an animal sanctuary and to do that we will need space (unless we rescue mice or small rodents). Our plan is for larger animals but not bigger than goats… okay, we’ll see. I’ve yet to say “no” to an animal in need of a home.
When I lived in San Francisco in the mid 90s, I lived in a studio apartment which was around 400 square feet. I was used to living in at least a two bedroom dwelling, but I adapted to the smaller space quickly. My unit had lots of windows and light and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I found out, I didn’t need lots of space to live comfortably and cleaning was a snap. That alone was a huge plus in my book! I also didn’t have a lot of stuff because I was recently divorced and left almost everything to my ex. It didn’t take long though for me to furnish my new home. One of the nice things about the apartment building I lived in, was it had a “give away” section in the large laundry room. Tenants left stuff there frequently and sometimes there were pieces of furniture. I still have a bookshelf and dresser that I got for free, along with nice pots and pans.
At the time, the Tiny Living idea wasn’t mainstream. I think studio apartments were a large city thing because rents were so high. When I moved in I paid $850 a month and when I left twelve years later, the landlord asked $1250 (S.F. has rent control and I think New York and Los Angeles do too. If it weren’t for that, there’s no way I could have afforded to live there for that long).
Now living in a smaller home has hit the suburbs.
I wonder if this lifestyle came about because people had enough of consumerism. We are bombarded with ads constantly telling us to buy the newest IPhone, IPad, drive a bigger car, own a bigger house, etc. It never ends! Maybe these people are sick of “keeping up with the Jones’s” (You probably have to be a baby-boomer to understand that line and if you don’t get it; it was a form of peer pressure to make sure you had the same amount of stuff your neighbor did, otherwise you were considered a loser). Of course that was bullshit. Buying all that stuff required getting a credit card because this stuff was too expensive to pay cash for, which meant working long hours at a job that you probably hated so you could pay off that debt.
Storage units became popular a couple of decades ago; a place to store even more stuff. I can see using it temporarily or if you have a business, but just keeping stuff there that you’ll probably never use again is just crazy, not to mention a waste of money!
Maybe the Tiny Living people had enough. They figured out that life isn’t about acquiring stuff. It’s about enjoying what you have and spending time with people you care about or just doing things you love. The average American now works a ten-hour day and if you live in Southern California, tack on a two-hour commute round trip on top of that. No wonder Americans are sick and tired!
Hubby and I had to leave a lot of stuff, including the kitchen table, a rocker, two patio chairs and a large coffee table behind when we moved a few months ago. I didn’t understand how small a 15 foot moving truck is (forget what the ad says; it won’t hold a two bedroom apartment. No way. No how!) We didn’t find that out until the truck was almost full and we were pressed for time. We had a ten-hour road trip ahead of us and were already tired. (Take my advice; don’t load a truck and move long distance the same day. It’s not worth it. Stay in a motel and get an early start the next morning). We had to make quick decisions. Our neighbor got the chairs and the kitchen table went in the dumpster. I left behind some other boxes too, mostly garden stuff. Only a few plants (my favorites) came with us.
The home we moved to is almost twice the size. We didn’t need that much space but it was the only house available that fit our needs and price range. In an earlier post, I wrote about my hippie décor. That actually was not planned; it was accidental because of the furniture we left behind. The futon frame broke in transit so I now sit on the futon cushion, on the floor in the living room. I call it my extra-large dog bed, since the dogs spend most of the time on it. They are small dogs and had to be helped on to the futon in the old place. Now that the frame is missing they can hop on by themselves. I don’t plan on fixing the frame anytime soon. I enjoy the cushion just the way it is.
While we unpacked all of our stuff. we started a give away pile. Anything that came out of the moving truck that we didn’t love, what ever it was, went in the give-away pile. That included books, clothes, Christmas stuff and collectibles. The woman in the local thrift store who got six tubs of stuff, was thrilled and I was happy knowing I was helping a local business woman and my stuff would be enjoyed by someone else.
I will admit though, I wish I kept one of the boxes of garden stuff. Inside was a wooden cat with a fishing pole and several wind chimes, that I’d had for years. Well, the wind chimes were falling apart and needed to be tossed but I liked that cat. Buddhism would say leaving that stuff behind is part of impermanence. Hopefully someone found that cat and is enjoying it as much as I did.
The goal now is to only keep things that we love and when I do buy something else, I have to give up something in return. Its my idea of Tiny Living.