The real me is here in an uncluttered world.
My senses are alive and I am exposed to only the good.
The chaos of everyday life seems sometimes inescapable.
But there is a way.
All that’s required is open eyes and an open mind
and a desire to change everything.
I reject an existence where daily routine numbs my mind
or where the journey to work is consumed
only by thoughts of the return home.
That’s not living.
In my uncluttered world
I’m satisfied with nature’s pace.
There is no purer joy than here in this place.
It appears on no map
and will remain hidden to all but the lucky few.
I count myself as one.
-Steven Dempsey, from his short film “An Uncluttered World”
Our world is filled with clutter.
We accumulate material things that we believe will bring us happiness: fancy cars, large houses, collections of shoes, gourmet cookware, and the latest electronic gadgets. News, advertisements and social media inundate our minds. Sounds–sometimes pleasant, but often just noise–barrage our ears. Work, social obligations, personal finances, and the upkeep of all our “stuff” constantly compete for our time and attention.
I first recognized the immense pressure that clutter put on my own life around 2006. Six years earlier, we had moved in to a spectacular 5,500 square foot custom house, sited on a beautiful creek lot. We’d spent two years designing and building that house, and it was nearly perfect. We thought we’d live there for the rest of our lives.
But a few years later, I realized that we were working to support the house and everything required to maintain it. We had furniture, artwork and furnishings that we rarely used. The huge cabinets and closets we had designed were stuffed, and we just accumulated more things because we had the room for them.
In 2008, with our three-year-old business struggling and the economy on the brink of the Great Recession, we made the difficult decision to sell the dream house into which we’d poured so much of ourselves. We moved to a 3,000 square foot house, but we kept most of our stuff. That move lightened our financial burdens, and helped us learn that we could manage and even thrive just fine with less room. Even so, all our possessions crammed into about half the space made the excesses even more obvious.
Five years later, after our oldest child moved out, we downsized again, this time to a 2,000 square foot townhome that would require even less upkeep. With this move, we purged another third of our remaining possessions. As we decluttered, our lives felt even simpler and less pressured. It was refreshing. But we weren’t quite there yet: the mundane routines of work, commuting, community responsibilities and household chores still cluttered our time and our minds.
The promise of an even more simple and less cluttered life was one of the things that led us to full-time RVing and an early retirement in 2016. Two of the key influences on that decision were Howard and Linda Payne’s excellent website, RV-Dreams.com, and their week-long Educational Rally that gave us the confidence to make the leap.
Unlike many RVers’ blogs, which tend to focus primarily on the nuts-and-bolts aspects of RVing, Howard often writes wonderful philosophical posts about the psychic and emotional benefits of this lifestyle. Yesterday, he shared a short film created by professional photographer and filmmaker Steven Dempsey, who is also a full-time RVer (their RVing blog is here). Dempsey’s three-minute film, An Uncluttered World, explains in stunning images and poetic words–more eloquently than I ever could–the essence of the kind of life that we and most other full-timers try to experience. Please take the time to watch it below.
Note that I said “try to experience”. We do often achieve that. But then there are times–such as when all my connected devices “ding” sequentially with notifications, as they did a few moments ago while I was writing this–when I remember that living an uncluttered life requires ongoing mindfulness and intention to resist the intruding chaos of the modern world.
There is still more I can do to realize the real me, to expose myself to only the good, and to be satisfied with nature’s pace. But the effort is worthwhile. In fact, isn’t it exactly what life should be about?
As Howard said, “the journey to deeper happiness is much shorter in an uncluttered world.” All that’s required is open eyes and an open mind–and a desire to change everything.