While sitting in my favourite cafe in Kingston (Mug and Truffle), when this brilliant old song came on the stereo. This time, I was working on a blog post and I heard the lyrics again, in a different way, for the first time.
“two hours of pushing broom
Buys a eight by twelve four bit room
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road”
THO is similar in size at ~8.5×11.5. Of course, I don’t rent it, but own it… and my process is not one of necessity but choice… too unlike many Tiny Housers, I did not build mine to go on the road but I attached it to a foundation. Even though there are clear differences, these lyrics made me think.
Last night, I had a wonderful chat with my almost cousin Jenny who is in the military. She shared a story about winter camping with a deflating mattress. It was no ride in the park! She woke up with her bottom side frozen into the ground. She spoke about lighting a small naphtha stove, with thick mittened fingers, while she was on watch. She explained to me how an act as seemingly trivial as this become the matter of significant importance and how this outweighed whatever was going on in the world around her. This along with other experiences she has lived make her full well understand that we humans can deal with loss of convenience quite easily. We simply get on with the smallest details of survival, we adapt. I am not supposing that my life at THO mirrors the hardship that soldiers face. As a matter of fact, a while back a friend said that THO was practically palatial when compared to his hunting camp. I have to say, as a person who has travelled and seen some pretty seedy hotels, I also realize that it is this too when compared to a two-bit room.
Still, THO does not have a lot in the way of amenities. This required me to make many adaptations in the way that I live my life. As this house of mine comes closer to completion, I hope that I have what it takes to make the steps to permanently adapt to this “less is more” life.
The great Townes Van Zandt wrote an ode to Janis Joplin and in this he said:
“If I thought about it long enough
I just might make some kind of move
watchful eyes are too hard on the soul”
To tell you the truth, I can’t explain how all this music and these thoughts are connected except inside me, somewhere deep and buried in my own personal set of meanings. They are part of the process of downsizing and giving up on the extras that at one time I felt were needed in order for me to be happy. Now, I think happiness is not a big pile of stuff, but rather it is something internal, gained by having experiences which make my life full.
I used to love this song when I was a kid. But one day I saw a really old video of Roger Miller performing it on some show, and maybe it was an outtake or something, but he was cussing out his audience, saying such things as “damn hippie” because someone needed a haircut in his opinion. So he was on that side of the fence in those days. Such is show business I guess.