Monday, February 9, 2015


Back in my building dwelling days, no one would have accused me of being a neat freak. A few might have considered me a slob. Sometimes I was one of those critics. Dishes piled in the sink. Bed unmade. A spare room where I tossed stuff. Underwear on the floor... You know, the lived in look.

I could get away with it because, 1) I seldom had visitors and, 2) I could go into some other part of the apartment or house and ignore the messes. Or just turn my back on it. The mess I did not see did not exist. It's called housekeeping via denial.

I can't do that in the Rolling Steel Tent. There's no room for it. A dirty dish left out gets in the way. A pile of bedding encroaches and gets tangled in things. There's just the one room. Anything on the floor gets stepped on.

A couple of camping friends made the same observation of their living spaces, even though they have more cubic footage than I do.

"If I don't put something away—a cup, a shoe—I'll bump into it."

"If something isn't in its place, it means something else can't be in its place. Then the second thing displaces the third, and so on. Pretty soon I can't find anything."

But there's another reason for keeping my van tidy. It keeps me from feeling like a refugee. I'm living outside societal norms, but I'm not a bum. I'm living compactly, not dysfunctionally. That's why I've let go of several loads of stuff since I started van dwelling. It was in the way. It created a mess. (And I had realized I didn't need those things.)

A few weeks ago, a visitor to the Rolling Steel Tent said, "Man, you have almost nothing in there." No, I thought, it's just that everything is put away. Everything is in order.


  1. There are lots of kinds of simplicity, but they all really just boil down to the same thing, which is not having a bunch of junk. It's a form of psychological freedom.

  2. I got evicted by my own clutter too!

  3. Living compactly with everything you want/need and your house moves with you. Nothing better than that. Can't even imagine the freedom you feel. Enjoy!