Finally!! I’m home. I slept in my own small bed in my tiny 6×10 trailer last night after spending the last two weeks living in a house in Anchorage, Alaska where I had gone to visit my mother and family. To put it mildly, I don’t like living in houses! In fact, I hate living in houses. The only reason I even would consider doing it was because I love my mom more than I hate living in houses. I know lots of people that don’t like spending times with their mother so I consider myself very lucky to have such a wonderful mother that I love to spend time with. So when the stars aligned to make this the perfect time to see her again I jumped at the chance.
Living inside the four walls of a house has a very bad impact on me. Somehow it sucks the energy, motivation and creativity right out of me. Every day I ended up sitting in front of the TV veg’ing out. I had some excuse because the weather was dreary and rainy the whole time I was there so that made it hard to go do something outside. I also find walking on asphalt or concrete very unpleasant on my knees and feet; so between that and the bad weather I stopped taking my daily walks for the first time in 4 years.
You might be thinking it was the weather and not the house that kept me inside and glued to the TV, but that isn’t true. In the last 4 year I have never missed a walk because of weather. One time it poured rain, (the hardest rain I have ever seen—it rained 13 inches in 24 hours) and Homer and I walked right through it. I’ve walked in 50 mph winds, a foot of snow and 98 degree heat—we walk regardless of the weather, except for the last two weeks living in a house.
Then it occurred to me the problem might be that I was in the city and that had I been in a house in the country it would have been different. There might be some truth to that but I don’t think it would make a difference. Anchorage has lots of parks and is surrounded by raw wilderness. A 10 minute drive would have put me in the woods. Somehow, being in a house so saps me of motivation that I couldn’t make myself get up and drive to a park to walk.
It wasn’t just the walking that I gave up on. I am right in the middle several writing projects and I had gone to Anchorage with the full intention of getting lots done:
- I am working on a new book on boondocking
- Working on getting the first book into a paperback
- Writing Blogs posts
- Responding to comments on the Blog
- Writing Twitter Posts
- Writing new articles for the website
- Answering questions on the Forum
I had plenty to do and did almost none of it; I simply could not motivate myself to open the laptop and work. That is very unusual for me. I spend several hours writing every day unless something important comes up. It should have been easier at my mom’s because I had few interruptions, but I simply could not make myself do it. It was like the TV and comfy chair mesmerized me. Once I sat down, I was there to stay.
Fortunately, I’m back home and back to work. I’ve been thinking about why houses have that effect on me and these are some conclusions I’ve reached:
1) Comfort is seductive. According to physics, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. It’s the same way with humans when you are totally comfortable, why would you do something uncomfortable? Living in a van is not as comfortable as living I a house, so I think it is easier to be active.
2) Houses insulate you from nature and breaks all your contact with it. In some way I don’t understand, nature is motivating. Maybe it’s the fresh air, or having life all around you, but somehow living in nature makes it easy for me to be active. When you spend all your time in houses, you are completely cut off from nature. You don’t feel heat, cold, wind, bugs rain or any other part of it. Human beings evolved in nature, and spending all our time away from it is very unhealthy for us. That isn’t just common sense; there have been repeated scientific studies that prove it.
- in schools with views of nature, student scores improve;
- in hospital rooms with a view, patients recover faster and have less pain;
- in prisons, the prisoners housed in cell blocks with views behave better and have less medical problems than prisoners in cell blocks without views;
- in offices with plants or flowers, productivity increases and sick days decrease.
3) After I published this post, Michael added a comment that I had to include here. He said that another reason we tend to fall into lethargy and depression when we live in houses was because we give up so much control over our lives. That is a brilliant observation! He said it so well I am going to quote from his comment:
Still living in a house myself, but feeling trapped and hoping desperately to sell it soon, I wonder if the element of freedom is also an important element. When we feel in control of our life, we have more energy and motivation. In fact, depression has been called “a disorder of power.” Perhaps the fact that one knows one can always move one’s van or trailer or RV helps one feel more vital and alive…especially for those of us who yearn more for freedom than for security.
I firmly believe that the closer you are to nature, the better your life will be. Living in a vehicle on public land is just about as close to nature as you can get. Even though I spend a lot of time outside my trailer, I still spend quite a bit of time inside it. So why is being inside the 4 walls of a trailer or van any different than living in a house?
In some way I don’t understand, even while I am inside a van, it feels like I am outside because I am not insulated from it. When it is hot or cold outside, I feel hot or cold. When the wind blows, the trailer shakes. When I need to pee, I step outside and pee. When I brush my teeth, I go outside to spit and rinse. When it rains, I hear the rain beating on the roof.
I am sitting inside my trailer right now writing this on my bed (see picture). There is a window beside my bed and the door is open. It’s a very pleasant 75 degree day and there is a slight breeze blowing through the trailer. I am baking corn bread in my solar oven about 30 feet from the front door and it’s about done because I can smell it; every so often a bee flies in and out. I am comfortable and sheltered from the elements, but I still “feel” like I am outside in nature. I’ve been stuck inside the trailer for up to a week at a time (except for our walks) by bad weather, and my little trailer never starts to close in on me, I still enjoy it. On the other hand, after just one day in a house, I start to hate it. The difference is a house separates me from nature while the trailer doesn’t.
If you can relate to that, maybe it’s time for you to live in a van! Bob