Inspiration can come from the strangest places. I’ve always wanted to live in a palace, since, naturally, I’ve always wanted to be a princess. Or a queen. I don’t tend to dream small. At least, I didn’t then…
Obviously, joining a royal family wasn’t likely to happen. Then, when I was in fourth grade, my girlfriend Mary Dahm, brought her one inch to one foot scale dollhouse to school for show and tell, and I was smitten. Oh, I wanted a dollhouse like that. If a fourth grade girl can experience lust, I did. A palace! In miniature! And it could be mine after all! Oh, I pestered my parents. It was bad. But dad thought it was ridiculous. Mom didn’t say one way or the other. (Smart of her.) But it was not to be… I got as far as transforming one shelf of my bookcase into a dollhouse parlor of sorts, though it was a far cry from the electrically lit, wallpapered dollhouse of my dreams. My palace of petite-ness! Alas…
But I never really gave up on that. In fact, when Sophia was small, I started buying some more furniture and did another bookshelf house. But since it was obviously not a toy for tiny fingers, I did buy her a Fisher Price Dream Dollhouse (or “baby-house,” as we called it), with all the furniture we could cram in it. We did not do Barbie dolls, as I find them offensive. No doll lives better than we do. No doll has better clothes than we do, even if they’re clothes I wouldn’t be caught dead in.
That attitude trickled over to the miniatures, and I packed them away. It really didn’t seem right to spend money on a miniature silver tea set when we didn’t use one, let alone a Chippendale dining set or petit point sofa cushions. I quit lusting, even when I visited the Thorne Miniature Room at the Chicago Institute of Art. I enjoyed it, of course, but it was no longer an occasion for drooling. How can one not appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into such loving detail and with such attention to historical accuracy.
But I’ve found that my taste for small things has taken a different focus. I live in a very small apartment, although it’s nothing like the walk-in closet sized ones I hear go for absurd sums in Manhattan. For years I’ve lived in a sort of “well, I’m not going to even unpack all this stuff, because I’m on to bigger and better things” attitude. But, hey, I’m forty-six now, and I don’t think I’m going to get a palace any time soon. And I’m not even sure that I want one. I don’t really like the ostentatious life-styles of the rich and famous. I think I have more of a social conscience than that.
So, recently, while doing some reading in sustainability, I came across a company that may have just what I’m looking for. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. They’re adorable very small houses that are amazingly well planned to utilize every available square foot. And I thought, “Hey, that’s about the size of my apartment!” And that made me think some more. What if I were to construct such a home for myself. How would I have to change my lifestyle and my attitudes about what I think is vital for my satisfaction, versus what I just like having around, verses what I keep because:
- it has sentimental value,
- it seems cool,
- no one else appreciates it like I do,
- I just like it; or
- it sure might be handy someday!
This sea-change in attitude is making me look at my possessions in an entirely new light. Rather than the above criteria, I’m beginning to use a new set.
- Has this brought me real satisfaction? In what sense? For how long?
- Does it improve the quality of my life in any real, lasting sense?
- Does it help me forge meaningful relationships with other people, or just isolate me, or give me an attitude of superiority?
- Does it reflect my personal values, or do I keep it hoping someone else might approve?
- If I only have “x” amount of room, where will I keep it? Could it be kept in a different manner? Can I easily borrow it or use it somewhere else?
- If I were to downsize even more, would I still keep it?
- Do I need this? I mean, really need it?
- If I got rid of this, would I regret it for years?
These ideas are still forming, so they’re hardly set in stone, and I refuse to call them rules. I’ve begun to tackle my bedroom today, which is really a catch-all for all my hobbies, craft supplies, papers, a ton of books, and, of course, things that reflected all the attitudes of the first set of “reasons to keep stuff.” I even printed out these new “ideas” to help me focus. I’m curious to see how they work. I’ll keep you posted.