The Elusive Contours of Enough
I had the deep pleasure of meeting Glenn of ToSimplify.net this summer, who lives the simple life of a vandwelling nomad. He was a great inspiration. I’ve seriously considered adopting his lifestyle, but his contours of enough do not fit me. He was openly inspired by my chosen lifestyle, but I do not think my contours would fit him.
Everyone has to find out what ‘enough’ means to them. It’s an intensely personal concept, that fine line between wants and needs is where it lies. Between simplicity and clutter. Between self-deception and personal growth. There is no road map and there never can be. The only one who can guide you there is your conscience.I speak of course of the personal ‘contours of enough’. There are guides to the large scale contours. I read a lot lately about degrowth and economic equilibrium. Much of it is inspired by the carbon budget and resultant post-growth economic theories like True Wealth. These are the macro-contours of enough. A world-wide threshold which we should content ourselves with, but will most likely overstep.
The discovery of my own, personal contours took a great deal of time and effort. At some point I got tired of hating the world. I got tired of being constantly frustrated and feeling like it wasn’t worth living. I had to reach my emotional bottom before the desperation was great enough to throw away the mold that society had told me I should fit into.
I came to realize that I felt like I did because I didn’t fit into the contours of the mold that society had created for me. I thought I knew what I ‘should’ do, but it wasn’t what I ‘needed’ to do. The self-discovery of my proper contours has been long and painful, but finally I can breathe easy. I’ve found the place in the world where I fit.I reached a happy place two summers ago after I quit my last job. I didn’t realize then how much downsizing was ahead of me. How much I needed to embrace minimalism. In all likelihood I’m still ignorant of a longer road ahead of me. I didn’t realize how unsustainably crowded my life was. In all likelihood I still don’t. But I’m excited to start a new chapter. I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge of those elusive contours.
After some serious packing and downsizing the last couple weeks I am starting to clearly identify what will be going on the boat with me this summer and what won’t. I have three buckets of dehydrated food that I had previously put together for emergencies. Two first aid kits. A large bottle of Ibuprofen. That’s all going with me.
I joke to my friends that January will be arts-and-crafts month. I’m painting several dozen fishing lures for catching food this summer. My overstocked chest freezer will need to be put in storage so I’m converting much of the steak and hamburger in it to beef jerky. I’m making a final batch of blueberry wine before I put my wine making equipment into long-term storage. One thing is for sure: I won’t go hungry this summer.
The things I will be bringing with me this summer is a much more spartan list than what I had two summers ago. But the essence of the contentment I found is the same: living on a boat, being close to the islands, doing meaningful work, and setting my own schedule. Maybe that’s all I really need out of life? It’s as though I found the contours of the walls back then, but now I am discovering the fine grain of the wood. I continue to feel my way towards May.