5.5
August 21, 2015

Why I Want More of Less.

Flickr/Tracy Booth

My journey to living a tiny, simpler life.

I was born in a tiny house.

A house with a tin roof, shutters instead of windows, and chickens that did not know the difference between the outdoors and the inside of our home. A place where the door was always open and the shutters were only shut when the rains came.

A house that measured less than 500 square feet and had many inhabitants, including the chickens my mother kept. A four-room structure filled with love, light and memories—not much stuff.

Other than my deep fear of the latrine—or outhouse as most know it  (but may have never experienced)—I loved the tiny world I grew up in.

That is where I spent the first five years of my childhood, not understanding or ever feeling the poverty that surrounded me.

I knew of no other life.

I did not know that my parents wanted to leave to the United States to seek a better life—whatever that meant. As a young child I only understood what I saw and felt. I felt safe and free.

I was happy.

This tiny house was in Central Rural Puerto Rico in a small municipality called “Morovis,” otherwise known as, “la Isla menos Morovis” (the island excluding Morovis) in reference to the Cholera outbreak of 1853 that ravaged the island and spared our small town. It was the home that my grandmother, a Taino Indian, and my grandfather, a Spaniard, lived in until they passed.

My mother brought me into the world in the same room and bed where my grandmother left it.

My fondest memories, though I was very young, come from my time there and from the memories easily evoked whenever my siblings and I talk about our childhood. Our mother, now almost 99, not only provided us with a colorful childhood, but also with a deep respect for living simply, the beauty of our bountiful earth and finding joy in all things not material.

We did not have much, but we had so very much.

Our house, made in a simple wood frame, consisted of a main room, two small bedrooms, a tin roof overhead that made thunderous noise when it rained and a kitchen, which by the time I was born had running water. My brother was gifted at climbing high into our guava tree, where the ripest sun-drenched fruit could be had.

Our life there was filled with the essence and beauty of a simple life. I felt safe in our tiny house.

As I enter the second half of my life, I have a deep resonating thought—an almost urgent necessity—to return to that simpler, tinier, happier life.

Hence, I have decided to build a tiny house on wheels.

Telling people this, I receive the gamut of responses from, “Oh my god, my closet is bigger than that!” to, “Really, why?” to, “Wow, that’s brave,”  to an astounding, resonating… silence. I can only say that I want to live more sustainably; I want to take less and give more.

I want more of less. Less clutter, less waste, less negative impact on the earth, less “stuff.”

So, how does one know that one is ready to go tiny? I cannot speak for everyone, but this is how I know it’s right for me:

I am overwhelmed with all the stuff in my current home.

No matter how often I have moved and purged, it is amazing how much “stuff” I’ve collected over time. I now go from room to room making a list of what I absolutely need and what is not necessary.

I can tell you that very little is a real need.

I rethink the purchase of anything not necessary and worry about waste constantly.

It always seems easy to buy “stuff.” Emotional shopping can propel us to consuming. It is a temporary filler, in my experience, that in the long run does not fill us at all, thus leading us to more unhealthy consumption. Whenever I pick up something at a store, I ask myself,  “Do you need it? How is it going to fill you?”

When I look around my surroundings, I find that I am not attached to most of it.

I have a clear understanding of the things I love and most of it is not “stuff.” Except for a few pieces of furniture, like my bookcase that houses my beloved, well-worn books, the things I love are people and my cherished memories.

My list of things to keep is much smaller than the list of things to get rid of.

Since I am not yet living in my tiny abode, I still have much of my stuff. So, I have gone from room to room and made a list of what I will keep and what I will lovingly give away or donate when the time comes. The majority will be donated.

I went to a Tiny House Conference via Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

I walked into a tiny house and thought, “It’s perfect and spacious enough.” Knowledge is the most powerful tool in going tiny. Tumbleweed provides a wonderful and informative two-day conference.

The desire is one thing, but one must really experience being in a tiny house to understand just how tiny it can be. It is not for everyone.

I will travel far and wide just to see tiny open houses.

Research and talking to other “tiny housers” has been helpful in my planning and in evaluating if this is right for me. Tiny housers are incredibly generous in sharing their experiences—including mistakes.

Tiny living is not for everyone, but, as one tiny houser said so well, “all you need in life—food, shelter, love and warmth—can be had in a mere 165 square feet.”

The idea and vision of living a simpler tinier life brings me an awesome sense of freedom.

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Relephant:

“Tiny Houser” Dee Williams on the 1 question to ask ourselves before we shop. 

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Author: Maria Arroyo Fazio

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Flickr/Tracy Booth

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KCasey Aug 22, 2015 10:31am

Beautiful article. Thank you. I am curious. Do you plan to stay in NYC in your tiny house? I ask this because my wife and I live in NY (Queens), and we also want to eventually move into a tiny house. I'm interested in the details of doing such in the city; we've often discussed the logistics of such. We've talked of buying a small piece of land outside the city and commuting, but we aren't sure of this option. We currently live in a tiny studio after downsizing from a 2 bedroom in preparation for future simplifying. I'd love to hear progress on your journey…

Heidi Garrett Aug 22, 2015 8:43am

I loved reading this, this morning. I want more of less too. Thank you.

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Maria Arroyo Fazio

Maria Arroyo Fazio is an optimist and a lover of hope. She is a clinical social worker but defines herself as so much more. She is a yogi in her heart more than in her ability to do a headstand. She spends her free time hiking, taking random photos with her iPhone, writing and embracing as much of life as possible. She has an addiction to tiny houses and container homes (which she will own one day). She is lucky to live in NYC where a mere moment of sitting on a park bench is never ever boring. She’d like to work less and write more.