Contemplative construction

As I was looking in a contemplative gaze out the window – into a wintery morning scene with freshly blowing snow and some lights shining from the roof of a construction site across the street – I felt this gentle urge, this longing, to be doing something with my hands. I had this instant flash of memory of the project I was working off and on all summer long: a tiny house on wheels. I imagined how ideal it would be to have such an ongoing project set up and waiting for those moments where my hands call for meaningful activity.

The becoming of my passive-solar-design-tiny-house-on-a-trailer in summer 2012

But my little project is set aside for the winter. Choosing to embrace a simple lifestyle and not to maintain a permanent place to live has its consequences: I am not always in control and have to accept what the respective circumstances allow. Setting up the tiny house project within easy reach was not feasible this winter. Alas!

However, I can reassure you that this project was the right type of space to combine my preference for contemplative inquiry and my need for hands-on activities last summer. The complexity of the task at hand, the planning of a construction project within the parameters of the Motor Vehicle Act, sound construction principles, subarctic weather conditions, available materials and resources, manual skills and experience, provided ample opportunity for contemplation. Only through opening of the mind and seeing (sometimes unconventional) possibilities did this design come together in a satisfactory way and congruent with and embodying my ideals of simplicity.

If you are interested, here are more pictures documenting the way from trailer to tiny house: Tiny House gallery.

The construction of the tiny house was a good example to illustrate what I seem to be missing in a consumerist world of convenience: Since nearly everything that we possibly want or need is available ready made, I feel there is no more requirement to sit down and think about (or to stop and listen for) what I really need. Do I need a house with x number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet, and stainless appliances?

We have become accustomed to make do with what is being marketed to us, which breeds wasteful consumerism and an attitude of making do with the next-best/suitable thing instead of an attitude of striving for excellence, the right thing for my needs. If we only choose what we really need, we would still be able to afford tailor-made clothing that is suitable for the respective climate instead of mass-produced fashion that looks good on the model in the catalogue.

I am happy with the outcome of the yet-to-be finished tiny house project. It provided me with a challenge to practice what I believe in. And it was teaching me some humility along the way. Not all the envisioned design features, such as curved ceilings and roofs, became reality: I did not have the required skills and knowledge and I did not take the time to acquire them to make it happen. I am looking forward to next summer and the process of finishing the interior to turn the raw space into an inviting and comfortable living quarters for a hermit.

On that greyish November morning, instead of going to the construction site to keep my hands busy when they asked for it, I decided to make bread the old fashioned way to provide nourishment for the contemplative body.

Home made bread for the senses

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