20 October 2007


In a recent BBC interview with the no-impact family, Michelle Conlin noticed that life had a different pace as a result of their one-year experiment, a project that seemed both to complicate and simplify their lives.

David Elliot Cohen captured this sense of complication when he remarked about his own adventure, "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, as in 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 around (from business trip to artist residency or from house-sitting to couchsurfing) 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 surroundings. My interaction was more in the moment because I was not preoccupied with the maintenance of a set routine somewhere else.

Living in a constantly changing context nurtured my sensitivity to different outlooks and approaches. I refer to this act of experiencing 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.


Blogger kopter said...

Thanks for this great post - I will be sure to check out your blog more often.

Thursday, 07 January, 2010  
Anonymous Ashley said...

I'm so impressed by this. I haven't had the guts to vagabond on such a large scale!

Saturday, 14 May, 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home