White Picket Fence
Moving from one home to another often gives us the opportunity to reflect, to replay our memories as we pack up our things and prepare for the next steps. The last two moves I have made were significant in my journey to simplification and greater connection with nature.
It all started one day while I was driving with a business associate through the San Francisco Bay area. As we crept through traffic, talking, passing a sea of industrial buildings, he finally asked me, “What are you doing here?” He was right. I had been nurturing a passion for the outdoors over the last 20 years; yet, this setting was hardly the mountain-dotted skyline that he knew I preferred in Colorado.
A short while later, I sat in gridlock alone on the highway, having just paid an exorbitant fee for a problem-free maintenance check on my luxury car. That moment, something inside of me snapped, and I realized I was living in a world that suddenly seemed ridiculous. I had been handed the key to my car on a plush pillow in extravagant fashion, only to go sit in that car, barely creeping along a bustling highway for hours each day. Deep down, I knew I just wanted to be spending more time outside.
It was this realization that moved me and my family to our next home in Niwot, Colorado. Making the move across the country was the first step in my journey to getting more connected with nature. In that 4,800-square-foot home nestled along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, my kids grew up, and we filled it with memories.
Fast-forward thirteen years, and changing family dynamics and philosophy drove the sale of the Niwot home. I embraced this move as an opportunity to continue my experiment in simpler living—although, selling the house came at a steep cost of $350,000 in the recessed market.
I was fortunate enough to be able to manage that financial situation, but it made me question the validity of the typical American dream: the big house in the suburbs, the cars, the landscaping, the knickknacks, and the home goods that seemed so necessary when purchased, but became so ultimately obsolete in everyday life. On average, homes today are three times larger than they were 50 years ago. My training as an outdoor survivalist made the absurdity of non-essential luxuries even more glaring: a six-hundred-dollar-a-month water bill to keep the lawn green, while we were surrounded by natural beauty nourished by its own ecosystem; a dedicated space for a dining room that rarely got used; plush guest towels that even the guests were hesitant to use—the list went on.
When I realized how few of my possessions had actually proved useful or enriched my life over the years, I had to question whether this “Joneses” level of living was actually a path to satisfaction, or if the white picket fence was holding me back from perhaps a better alternative where I could explore paths to simplicity, gratitude, and connection with nature. As we packed up the house, I wasn’t just fondly saying goodbye to the place that held so many memories; I was also freeing myself from clutter.
Throughout this move, I relentlessly asked myself, “Do I really need it?” More often than not, I found that I didn’t. As I move to the next steps in my journey, I’m eager to continue experimenting with the idea that less can be more and see where it takes me.
Are You Simple?
Or simply curious? Changes of all kinds demand courage and stamina, and we need to be exposed to alternative ways of thinking about how we live—and how we could live—in order to uncover our own truth. More of us must vulnerably share our experiences and gratitude so that others may be inspired.
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