Somewhere back in the depths of winter we started talking about small living. The smaller a property, the less it takes to heat it, the less land it occupies, and the more conscious you have to be about how you use the space. No owning things for the sake of it, if you have next to no room. In terms of living greenly, living in a small space seemed the way to go. At that point it was all theory, but the Gods were clearly listening… things happened and we took the decision to live on a narrowboat. I can’t claim the main reason was green, but that was in the mix.
So here we are, off the grid, generating our own electricity, and in a very small space. We’ve been doing this for a few months now, so I feel able to comment.
The process of moving in involved a radical rethink of everything we own. What do we actually need? What can we stash in the available space? What will suit our lifestyle? Having spent a lot of years in long skirts, I’ve become a jeans girl, because boats and cycles do not go well with long skirts. My son had to weigh up the fun to space ratio of his various toys. And it must be said, he gets a lot of use out of the things he picked, and has not missed anything so far as I can tell. He’s learned a lot about himself and how he likes to play. We brought a lot of books, by agreement, and that was a good call. The stripping down process created self awareness, and made us conscious of everything we do. From a Druid perspective, it’s been a great teacher and awareness raiser.
One of the effects of living in a relatively small space is that you spend more time outside. There’s a great deal of outside with a canal, all of it beautiful. We go places and do things, work outdoors, eat outside, play outside as much as we can. It’s made me increasingly aware of the relationship between ‘in’ and ‘out’. Currently the norm seems to be to go after ever bigger and more luxurious houses full of stuff. The more houses we have, the more inside we create, the more ‘outside’ we destroy. On the whole, I’d rather have my home be a small space, and there be lots of wild outside everyone can share and benefit from.
Smaller homes do not require as much cleaning, which is a plus for work, and a plus for not using cleaning products. Fewer rooms equals less lighting, a radio on in the boat entertains us all. The smallness of space encourages us to interact and co-operate, unlike families in big houses who all have their own rooms and a television in each one. We share, entertain each other, and that living closer is a good thing. And if we need space, there’s an abundance of outside right there.
I’ve had to rethink my priorities, my whole way of living and doing. It’s been a good process. I feel cleaner, lighter. I like owning less but having the exact things I want and need. I like the green electricity, and I love how much ‘out’ there is. No vacuum cleaner required. No television. No hot and cold running conventionality. I can’t claim it’s been easy all the way, there have been a lot of challenges and a great many things to learn, but that’s part of the joy of it. Challenge is good. Without challenge, there’s precious little scope for growth.