It was a record-breaking trip in both the Fun and the Extreme Duration departments: a full seven weeks elapsed between the time we left and the red-eyed return to our driveway after midnight last night. So many things happened that it felt like a whole separate lifetime. I lived a truly nomadic lifestyle, surfing between beds, couches, and floors in at least eight different locations, with at least 20 moves between them.
So it’s a very pleasant, but strange feeling to be back home in my real house. All these big, empty rooms, and all this stuff I had forgotten we even owned. On the positive side, it’s nice to get a break from the Chronically Overcrowded Fridge Syndrome that seems to affect almost everyone in both sides of the MMM extended family. On the negative side, we all miss our families already and it will be months before we see them again.
The part that was most amazing about the trip was that we were all truly happy – just as happy as we would have been here at home. From a practical perspective, we gave up our fine house and all of its contents, sacrificed our nicer car and all seven bicycles. I lost my drums and guitars, and my son lost all of his favorite toys. Mrs. M gave up her closest friends and the joy of regular self-inflicted pain at the Crossfit gym. I also gave up the entire United States and all of my monetary fortune, since I didn’t visit this country or spend much of anything while I was away from home.
In fact, the life that we lead on that trip was almost exactly the one we would lead if we lost everything except the clothes on our backs. I lived entirely out of a small duffel bag of stuff. My only high-tech toys were my homemade construction radio and a clunky old laptop I got for free from an MMM reader back in March. I didn’t even need my own shoes for most of the trip – summer-toughened bare feet were the primary footwear, and an old pair of sandals was a close second. While I enjoyed mostly free meals and accommodations, I paid back more than their value in most cases by doing construction projects for my hosts.
By the end of it all, as I was packing up my little duffel bag for about the 50th time, I thought about the simple life we had lead and realized that you really don’t need much to be happy in life. As I had long suspected, the supposedly-frugal life we lead back in Colorado is still far more than one needs. And even the duffel-bag lifestyle described above could surely be pared down even further. A beach, a coconut tree, and a fishing rod could provide just as much pleasure, especially if there happened to be a library nearby.
But now the magical simplicity of the summer life is over. I’m in a fully equipped home office, there’s a huge to-do list taped to the side of the monitor, and the school year is starting up for my little son in three days. The amazingly fancy things I own at home are already starting to put me into the mood to buy more things. The car looks like it could use some new tires. An ultrabook laptop would look nice on my lap this fall as I get back into some serious blog writing. More outdoor-living projects beckon in the back yard. The more things you have, the more there is to be tweaked and optimized and improved upon.
So the MMM family will probably go back to normal life, and resume the process of buying things occasionally. It won’t be the typical rich household’s spending, where cars circle the town daily, harvesting bags and boxes of luxury products at the slightest whim of their owners. But it will still be at least 75% optional spending, which is an important thought to ponder. My job is to capture the feeling of this simple, blissful summer and apply it across the rest of the year. I already know what it’s like to be happy with much less stuff.. so what’s stopping me from accomplishing it in my real life? What’s stopping you?
It’s great to be back. Let’s have some serious fun this year as the MMM blogging season gets going at last!