I’m a pretty organised person. When I decide I want to do something, I research the hell out of it so that I get a good feel for what I am getting myself into. 4 months into tiny living and I feel like I wasn’t really prepared for this… transitional phase. A lot of my posts are prompted by the fact that I didn’t read about <enter this thing I am going through here> from anyone else. So I guess I should write about this.
Let me start out by saying that my first month of living in my tiny was on-site where it was built, with the same people and the same routine I had around me for the 2 years I spent building it. It felt completely right. The place was familiar, the people were nearby but I had my own space in the place I had built it. I was driving to the train station each morning, commuting with hundreds of other Sydney people, spending the day with my work colleagues, commuting home, cooking dinner, watching a bit of Netflix and repeating until the weekend. Then on the weekend I did what I had been doing every weekend for the past 2 years, which was building or at least finishing the build. Then one day, I finished up at work, spent a week finishing the odd jobs and then I moved my space to a new place. That you can move your space to a new place is one of many things that makes a Tiny House so special.
I spent about a month settling in, getting to know my new surrounds and then launched into a very busy period of paragliding competitions. I guess this was a bit like going back to work in that I had a busy schedule that had been established months ago when I entered all these competitions. I had a week away, a week back home, a week away, a week home preparing for the next competition and then 2 weeks of competition in my home town. Then everyone in my paragliding community basically went home and back to work. That left me to ponder how the rest of 2018 was going to work for me. This organised person had made plans to this point. I just figured that I’d work out the next steps when I got there. After all, there’s only so much you can plan. However, working out how to move forward has been harder than I anticipated. Over the past few months I feel like I have stepped off what I am calling the societal “train”. I stepped out of the lifestyle that our society expects us to travel on. I didn’t keep a mortgage. I didn’t value job security. I moved away from a capital city. I downsized all my possessions and, for the large part, I have refused to be pulled back into consumer buying behaviour that social media constantly tempts us into. I built and moved into a non-approved structure that my local council may or may not take issue with. I am risking being evicted because I didn’t adhere to a clear set of rules that the society I live in wants me to adhere to. 4 months later and apart from a lot of cars rubber-necking, I have had no issues with neighbours and no council indicating they want to make life hard for me.. yet.
In letting go of all these expectations and adherence to certain rules, something else happened which I didn’t really see coming. That is that all of these expectations created a fairly tight package. A clear path to follow. I may not have liked the path but the expectations were clear. When you abandon the well-trodden path you are then presented with the other options. But instead of stepping off the main path and being left to choose from some minor paths, all you are left with is wild scrub. You could forge a path this way, or that way. And maybe you should forge both paths, because who knows how they will pan out, but this takes time. You are not going to get anywhere as fast as you did on the well-trodden path. Forging a new path is going to test your mettle. Again. As if learning to build didn’t test that already.
I kind of did plan for this type of situation. The situation where none of the alternative sources of income came together in time. And that was that I’d just go back to the city for 3-6 months and get a contract and refill the bank account accordingly, like I had been doing on and off for the past 2 years. Then I could just go back to Tiny for the summer and live life to the max as I have done for the past 4 months. And maybe I still will do that. But… you are either on the train or off the train. Its really hard to have one foot on the platform and one on the speeding train. By this I mean that what I instinctively felt was not right for me, now feels fundamentally wrong. Some of that has to do with where I have settled.
I have moved to a town that is promoted as an adventure sports hub. Adventure sports is totally me and thats one of the things that has attracted me here. I’m doing as much of my primary sport as I want and I’m fast falling in love with a secondary sport. I wake up to views of a tree covered ridge and fall asleep to thousands of stars. But the only way that this town is thriving is to attract the dollars of the “city-folk” who want to come here and get their adventure sports fix and then go back to their city jobs and city mortgages. I look around me and see McMansion after McMansion being built (and sitting vacant for most of the time) and I can’t help but wonder if I really did step off the train. Or am I now just servicing the station?
What drove me to take the risk to invest the lion’s share of my savings in a tiny house is that I wanted to get off the train. Now that I am off I really don’t want anything to do with the train. But I still operate in society. The beautiful town I live in, is so liveable because it runs off the proceeds of the train. I thought that I was mostly done with the “forging ahead into unknown territory”, but it seems like the journey is not over at all. Part 1 was build the alternative living structure. Part 2 was move the structure to ideal place. Part 3 is establish actual means of living. How will I earn an income? Even if my living costs are low, they still require an income. What kind of work will support my lifestyle but still keep me challenged and interested? I didn’t sacrifice all of this so that I could work a bar job. What kind of work will allow me to live true to my values and live my mission? I really don’t know what that looks like…
I think the answer lies in being willing to let go of the planning and organisation that is learned through living life on the train. I think the answer lies in trying different things and abandoning the expectations that the train brings with it. Expectations that, given the skillset you have, you must get a job that fully exploits all those skills to earn the maximum amount of income. Maybe I need to focus on my values more and my skillset a little less.
The journey is not over yet.