In honor of the first day of Spring (happy Spring ya’ll), I took a walk through Dallas suburbia.
Spring provides an opportunity to unburden yourself, to set new intentions, to step into a life full of newfound freedom and promise. But as I walked through Dallas Suburbia, I found myself unable to focus on the beautiful newness of Spring, on the birds chirping, or the cherry blossoms blooming. Instead, my focus was drawn to the rows of brick mansions, never-ending and ever-expanding in size.
Mansions three stories high, outfitted and manicured like model homes.
And the weirdest part? Not only did they look like un-lived in model homes, in large part, they seemed to be just that…uninhabited.
The owners were nowhere to be seen, either slaving away at the jobs they devoted their lives to, inhabiting the homes they own elsewhere, or lost deep within the winding walls of mansions much too big for them to navigate.
The only people to be seen were the folks employed to keep the homes manicured, to tend to the massive lawns, to paint the giant shutters, or to plant the lavish flowers.
Weaving in and out of the rows of mansions reminded me of my childhood. As a teenager, I went to a public school that educated children from one of the richest zip codes in the world. I stepped foot into mega mansions and listened to my friends parents dismiss their housekeepers and landscapers with racial slurs and tips thrown at them with smirks; as if they were doing as good deed, as if the money made their comments disappear.
As a teenager I knew my friend’s parents comments were wrong. I knew they were misguided. But I still thought of them as successful. I still felt pressure to become them, to own the massive homes they owned and to drive the flashy cars they drove.
But that longing changed years ago.
And today, as I walked through the Dallas suburbs, surrounded by mansions, I thought about all the waste.
And as I stopped to speak with the men painting the shutters, I thought about the prep schools of Dallas and the opportunity gap. I thought about these men’s children and the children who lived in the mansions they painted, and how different their homes and education would be.
Sometimes I get caught up in a disillusionment bubble.
Wandering teaches you so damn much…
It teaches you how insanely different each state is; how some states handle rehabilitation better than others, and how some states have hidden communities of enlightenment even when their neighbors have confederate flags in their yards.
It teaches you about the beauty of sex education in other countries and how incredible arranged marriages can be.
But wandering also connects you with so many fellow travelers who think just like you. Who want tiny homes; who can’t understand how wasteful our society has become; who live out of their backpacks; who have difficult conversations with people outside their race and culture in hopes of making change.
And eventually ya’ll, you start feeling hopeful that our generation will be the one that moves toward tiny and closing the wealth gap that so massively exists.
But then, you take a walk on the first day of Spring, and you wake the fuck up. You see the mega-mansions and the black and brown workers. You see manicured lawns and the uninhabited homes. You see the poor public education system and the unattainable prep schools. You see the waste and the disparity, and you wonder what it will take for society to give up the idea that success = stuff.
There is a whole section in my E-book Breaking The Chains about stepping out of this idea, and simplifying your life so you can focus on your happiness, rather than your image.
I mean fuck, maybe people really do want homes with 12 bedrooms, marble floors and 4 elevators. But I can’t understand why. I can’t understand how that makes them truly happy. And ya’ll, my guess is, it doesn’t. It just makes them feel superior.
And superiority only breeds further dissonence.
So, as I sit in an under 1000 square foot, two room home, I feel grateful. I see the walls painted with warm colors. I feel my heart beat calmly as I look to the plants on the counter. And I feel safe and settled, knowing this is not only enough, it is still more than I need.
So I will continue to move toward tiny.
I will sleep in my car and soak up the beauty of the wild wilderness. I will downsize from two rooms to just one, in a tiny log cabin in the middle of the woods.
And ya’ll, all the while I will wander forward knowing that great abundance and success exists in me and my life, not because I have a mega-mansion, but because I honor myself and others by having just enough stuff, and more than enough joy to fill up my space!
I send each one of you love, and encouragement to move toward tiny in the ways that feel good to you!