If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!
I saw this Kurt Vonnegut reference and it hit me hard, hopefully it will do the same for you. It makes sense that an archeologist would see life this way. They literally dig through history trying to make sense of past worlds, any and all experience helps them do that! I think architects naturally think along the same lines, too. They draw futures that hopefully help make better sense of industries and people’s everyday lives. I think it’s a mentality worth sharing.
Why does this matter?
It’s one of the hardest things I keep running into while trying to teach my kids. The point of doing anything is NOT to be good at it. That’s not the reason we should do it. Likewise, not being good at something isn’t a reason to quit it. We shouldn’t feel pressured to make an income at something because we’re good at it. And we shouldn’t be told to stop something just because we can’t make an income from it. It’s SOOOOO engrained in our culture and I wish it would stop. We have to try a lot of things in life so we can have empathy and understanding for others. Everything adds value to life and gains you an appreciation for all of the things. This ‘have to be an expert’ thought process is killing our souls.
Personally, we are often assumed ‘failures’ or lost sheep, because our ambition is only as big as a tiny house. We don’t live in a tiny house because we can’t afford a different one. We live in a tiny house because of the great big life it helps us lead!
Why we build
We build everything. We like the challenge. It would be MUCH easier to just buy something (sometimes). But it’s our joy to build it instead, most of the time. Part of it has to do with self-reliance. Other parts have to do with the environment- why buy something that needed to be shipped way over to me when I likely have the materials to build it here (like the picture frame I made this weekend featured above – which I made for this lovely, HANDMADE thank you card I recently received).
I have been known to make my own clothes, house, dinners. As a family we’re learning how to grow our own food and cultivate better relationships. The kids are learning about mechanics and circuits and how to communicate. James even built his own company from nothing in an area well outside of his education. For us it’s about being challenged and the feeling of overcoming.
We’re not great at any of these things!
We’re good enough though. I am ever the cheerleader for DIY culture. Always. What you build does not have to turn out well to be worth your time. When you pickup a hammer and the willingness to try you’ve already succeeded in my opinion. You might fail. That’s ok. I have failed hundreds of times! (did I ever post pictures of the dog house I made before my tiny house, oye! Not even my dog felt safe enough to go inside!) No matter what the outcome, you’ll learn. And if you keep the willingness to try, you’ll take that lesson to your next effort.
It’s all that willingness to try that adds up to a big beautiful life!
We built a camper. A project I designed and built with my partner, James. We had no experience building a camper meant for towing, it was loads different than tiny house construction. We had a willingness to try though. And fortunately we had built up enough know how to be successful. I designed and built all the parts you touch (furniture and function), he design and built all the parts you use (electric, solar, plumbing). We worked alongside each other on our respective efforts and the process helped build our relationship. It’s far from perfect, trust me (I just clean it up pretty for the pictures). The point was never about having a beautiful camper though, it was an avenue to have a beautiful experience together and hopefully find a new place to call home.
You know what? It worked!
It carried us around the country on a 40,000 mile journey, through 53/62 National Parks (so far), over 13 months and to our new hometown. I’m glad I did such a crummy job on that dog house so I could learn enough to try again and do a better job! Building that camper set the foundation for an appreciation of the abundance in nature that we’re trying to teach our kids. It’s given us a connection to so many places. Our kids now have the goal of one day building their own house. We have gorgeous family memories. And yes, it helped us save money. Much more importantly, it is where we really bonded as a family. I cannot imagine my life now if my goal was to just build a pretty camper.
Not all the things we do are ‘sexy’ enough to share
We’re certainly in the ‘fail a whole bunch of times so we can learn’ stage. It starts in small ways. That makes the fails easier to handle. As confidence gains the trys get bigger. Fails still happen but they don’t overwhelm unless you let them. All these ‘handy’ things we do aren’t just to save money. They are the ways we empower our lives and the lives of our kids (and sometimes relatives). No matter how small the start, the willingness to try is the building block for these wonderful experiences that make us all into interesting people.
If you’re ever feeling uninteresting, build something. It helps.
We’re working on a lot of fun and exciting things on our little homestead. Nothing feels big enough to share just yet but, in the ways I am familiar with, they are all important to our families foundation. And I am talking for generations. This winter has been very good to us. My hardest feeling right now is the anxiety that comes from thinking this might be as good as life gets. How insanely lucky am I to be getting to live the best days of my life right now? I am trying to do my best to stay grateful and help when I can.
(Quotes from Kurt Vonnegut)
I hope you are well – I am always here for support and encouragement.