Call it Poverty, call it Voluntary Simplicity

I lived out on Taos Mesa in the tiniest trailer known to mankind.  There were no utilities, no running water. I’d haul water from Henry’s house, just down the road, and heat up a pot of water to take showers. Invigorating showers out in the wide open space, freezing night air.  A 5 gallon bucket was my toilet, which used sawdust to cover contributions. When the bucket got full, I’d bury the contents in the earth, feeding the earthworms.

The remarkable thing is I loved it.  I felt wild, and yet I was surviving creatively.  A boy from the burbs of Southern California. I felt freer, less rent to pay. Except for filling the propane tank for heating and cooking, I had no utility bills.  I’d clip a power cord to my truck’s battery and have a little light at night.

The one thing about the road out to my trailer on the Mesa, was the spring thaw…you had to leave early and get home late, cuz when the daily thaw happened, the muck was amazing.

Other than that, call it voluntary simplicity, call it poverty…I called it good. I was a new father, in the middle of a separation, learning to be a construction carpenter, and was looking to live inexpensively.

Even then, I was dreaming of sustainable villages; high density, vibrant alive, local food, local energy. Heck, Mike Reynolds was my nearest neighbor. His house/office under the windspinner was my nearest neighbor to the south. We’d argue about where to build sustainably; he was a “in the country” kind of guy, and I’d argue for urban settings… turns out we were both right.

I want to live in beauty, but I don’t want all the maintenance that goes with it.  I want thriving, vibrant, alive streets, with kids roaming and having fun. A sunny spot at a wind sheltered table for a morning coffee. Watching the sunlight bounce of the pond’s surface. I want to be a part of an abundant life, I’ll help maintain the pond, I’ll help establish frog habitat.

My wife is much more domesticated that I, and she has a strong sense of beauty.  She once visited the trailer on the Taos Mesa, there is no way she’d have anything to do with it.

This is one of the defining challenges we face…how do we live lightly on the planet, and yet have a high quality of life? How do we make sharing easy, convenient, so we aren’t owned by all our stuff?  I believe it takes a village to go sustainable. My spiritual practice reminds me I can’t find what I’m truly looking for in this world.

Share your ideas! How would you make sustainable real? Call it poverty, call it voluntary simplicity….I’m calling it good.
Images courtesy of Taos homes, Arttattler

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