David Elliot Cohen captured the sense of complication that might accompany an attempt to engage in a city lifestyle while only leaving a minimal impact on the environment, when he said about his own venture,
“Disengaging from your normal routine and establishing an entirely new way of life is a full-time job for months on end.”And yet there's a sense of simplification because, like other examples I’ve found, the Conlins cut back on striving to increase their comfort level.
If I’m allowed to illustrate this idea by sharing a passage from Bill Bryson's, The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid, it follows:
"By the closing years of the 1950s most people - certainly most middle-class people - had pretty much everything they had ever dreamed of, so increasingly there was nothing much to do with their wealth but buy more and bigger versions of things they didn't truly require: second cars, lawn tractors, double-width fridges, hi-fis with bigger speakers and more knobs to twiddle, extra phones and televisions, room intercoms, gas grills, kitchen gadgets, snowblowers, you name it. Having more things of course also meant having more complexity in one's life, more running costs, more things to look after, more things to clean, more things to break down." p. 330[I’m about to type out a description of my urban camping nostalgia on my laptop from work because my computer screen at home shorted itself out yesterday, two months after the warranty expired.]
My urban camping nostalgia includes learning that I could move from business trip to artists residency, from house-sitting to couchsurfing to camping in my atelier with very little stuff.
While I was learning how very few 'things' I actually needed, I was simultaneously growing accustomed to the freedom of movement, a feeling of being unburdened.
With this nomadic movement, I noticed a different engagement level with the people and projects in my ever-changing surroundings. My interaction was more 'in the moment' because I was not pre-occupied with the maintenance of a set routine somewhere else.
Living in an ever changing context nurtured my sensitivity to different outlooks and approaches. I refer to this exposure to different viewing points as open-sourcing my life.
As I try to decide if I should postpone my return to school so that I can replace my broken washing machine and my breaking fridge, not to mention my broken computer screen, I sense the growing nostalgia, simply my preference for ‘experience’ over ‘ownership’.