In the past few years the phenomenon of “tiny houses” seems to have caught on. These are houses that may be either stationary or mounted on a trailer and are indeed tiny in that they are usually around 200 square feet, including kitchen and bathroom! The philosophy guiding the movement is that the house must be affordable, efficient, and “green”. Rather than to build the house with the intention of filling it up with stuff, tiny houses are built from the inside out by first determining what the owner comes to understand he really needs in the house, and that determination then dictates the size of the house. This implies a mental winnowing-process for the owner since the less he “needs” shrinks the amount of floor-space that will have to be built. This mindset is, it seems to me, to be the radical opposite of how a hoarder thinks. Yet, both approaches involve private space as well the question, “What do I REALLY need?!” This then leads to another question, “And WHY?!”
A reality that seems to drive many hoarders is the desire to escape memories that make them uncomfortable… memories of ruined relationships, memories of tragedies that have been inflicted upon them, memories of things gone wrong. When… and if… the hoarder asks himself, “Is it enough?” the answer comes out to be: There can never be enough to escape their inner and unresolved pain; as a result they run from that pain by pursuing the pleasure of acquiring. The problem with their solution is that by refusing to deal with their pain it becomes a sinkhole that slowly swallows their freedom, their happiness, and in the end – their whole life.
Living simply, as is implied by the tiny house philosophy, raises some important questions for all of us, such as, “What do I really need? Are the things that I want what I really need? Should I take everything that is available simply because it is there? How can I know when I have ‘enough’?” There is a line in one of Janis Joplin’s songs which goes: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” What are you willing to lose? Do you actually need everything that you want? Even if you are not a hoarder… where are your “things” taking you?