My intentions were good when I booked myself into a tiny house. I thought it would be a treat; an upgrade from my van and more responsible than a hotel room. But the experience of this tiny house was not what I thought it would be. It left me thinking: surely there has to be another way to get a guilt-free, good night of sleep without having to sacrifice one’s sanity, right?
This kind of question bothers me often when it comes to thinking mindfully about the way I consume and live. Like many of you who just can’t ‘un-know’ some things, I am happy to sacrifice convenience since it often means that I have a more fulfilling experience in whatever I am doing. But when it comes to my comfort, my sanity and when my sleep is at stake, I remind myself that I try to do my best with the resources made available to me and that the effects of my choices will still make a difference. We need to recognise progress and not perfection.
Design is everything in a tiny house. Staying in one for a night is like walking a kilometre in someone else’s shoes. Every part of it must have been designed for someone shorter than me, who didn’t mind creepy crawlies and who didn’t bruise like a peach.
The house, surrounded by gum trees, smelt of freshly cut wood and incense and looked out onto a melodious river. It was almost idyllic. I tried to relax, but it was a hot evening and the windows had no fly screens. I knew that this accommodation wouldn’t be the most comfortable, but I gathered that fly screens would have been fitted because, well, Australia.
Then came my attempt to sleep in the little A-shaped burrow above the kitchen. Above where I had been cooking. On a hot night. Where all the heat rose and couldn’t escape because I was terrified of opening the windows in fear of spiders — or worse — mosquitoes. I tossed and turned and imagined myself covered in rosy bites and fresh bruises to match my blush dress for a wedding the next day. I needed a breeze and a safe sleeping environment. A decision was made: I would sleep in the van. My van is designed well with fly-screens and a comfortable bed.
The next morning, after I noticed that the gas stove’s flames were probably too close to the wall and I sipped on a lukewarm coffee, I came to a conclusion about the tiny house. I realised that this was not the work of a mindful minimalist with design in mind. This was the work of an ‘off-the-grid hippie’ who generated an income through Airbnb. I guess we were mindful in different ways. I meant well; I really did.