If you could have more of the best things in life, what would you want more of?
Time is probably a big one for a lot of us—and not just any old time but time with people we care about doing things we care about. Steve and I have always felt strongly about this idea but along the way, we've allowed some distractions in. Over the last couple years, we've begun to look at our life with new eyes and it's leading us to make some big changes.
10 years ago Steve and I set out to build a life together. Our first place was a tiny apartment and as our income has increased over the years, we've progressed to more and more square footage. Eventually we bought a house— 3200 sq. ft. on 1/3 of an acre. Life was good. All our basic needs were being met and then some. Looking back, we wanted for nothing, but still, we always found something to want. We were always adding to our possessions and we rarely took the time or trouble to subtract.
We've been avid campers for a long time but about 3 years ago a friend introduced us to ultra-light backpacking. Both Steve and I had gone backpacking in our teens but we weren't in love with it as we both associated the experience with carrying a 30 or 40 pound pack. But ultra-lighting made us change our minds.
Our friend recommended Mike Cleland's book “Ultralight Backpackin' tips,” and it turned out to be a very quick and entertaining to read. Some of Cleland's tips seemed genius and some seemed a little crazy, but as we started implementing the concepts of ultra-lighting, we became more willing to try the crazy stuff. Packing became a game, and it was fun to experiment with which items were really worth their weight on a trip. We came to understand that ultralight backpacking isn't about learning to tolerate misery, its about being happy with less.
Eventually, we couldn't avoid looking at our everyday life through an Ultra-light lens. We realized that we're happiest when spending time with people we care about, and when we're out in nature together. So why were we giving so much of our precious time and energy to maintaining a large home that was just a place to hang our packs between adventures?
Then we stumbled onto the minimalist movement—it was like ultra-light backpacking for everyday life. We were inspired by other people's minimalist journeys and soon we were ready to start our own. We sold our house in May and now we're renting a room from Steve's mom while we continue the process of downsizing all our possessions. We had a lot of stuff so downsizing is proving to be a big job but it feels so good to watch it all slowly disappear—I nearly wept with joy when we sold our lawn mower!
We're still not sure what our “brand” of minimalism will look like but we really like where it's headed. For Steve and Tess, owning less stuff is one giant step toward having more of the best things in life.
Steve and Tess love to explore nature, whether it be backpacking, packrafting, mountain biking, hiking, or just wandering. The more we explore, the more we realize just how little we've seen.