In a few weeks Tom and I will move into our tiny house on wheels. What will it be like? I think it will be like one of those thought experiments that physicists dream up to show how bizarre the universe is at those rare moments when things are all squeezed or travelling unbelievably fast.
Our wok might not turn square and our shampoo might not start reciting poetry, but things are going to be weird. In that tiny, mustard-coloured, squished-up singularity, I expect space, time and space-time to behave differently from how it has in the universe we’ve known.
What will fail to fit in our house that we really, really need? Which simple action — like walking past each other — will be impossible? Which habits will we have to lose?
We don’t know. But living in 23 square metres is bound to be one of the biggest adjustments either of us will ever make.
We will have to adapt, adjust, and evolve.
So it’s a good thing that before Tom and I make the shift from big life to tiny life, we’re getting heaps of practice in adapting, adjusting and evolving.
I type this at the dining table of the third short-term rental cottage that we’ve lived in during the past month. Tom has just booked us into our fourth, which we’ll move into the week after next.
Before we move into the Mustard Yellow House (now that a new site is looking good for us — more details later), we might even see the inside of a fifth rental.
This is the gypsy era of our lives. Packing everything into the Subaru till it groans, driving to some new place, unpacking, and living in that new space till the next pack-it-all-up day.
By now we know how to pack, and how long it takes. And it no longer scares us. We’ve adapted.
More than that, we’ve learned how to adjust to each new place without fretting or frustration. For me, this conscious adjustment is vital — if every disruption got me as stressed as it usually would, I’d quickly shrivel up into a frightened little flake and be blown away. I can’t afford to be useless just at the time in my life when I have to be calm, positive and flexible.
So I’m deliberately building my adaptability muscle. I’m working to adjust to every new “home” as positively as I can: taking puzzling kitchen layouts in my stride, figuring out how various washing machines work without swear words, discovering where things are without muttering oaths about people’s strange storage practices, making the best of pegs, pillows and potato mashers that I personally would never buy, and cooking uncomplainingly with indefensible saucepans.
And it’s working. I’m taking every inconvenience in stride. I’m solving simple problems without stress, I’m going with the flow. My adaptability muscle has become taut, strong and shapely.
Change? I eat it up. Disruption? I laugh at it. Setbacks? I turn from them and deal instead with things I can influence.
This whole tiny-house experience — selling up, renting, downsizing, gypsying, searching, negotiating, learning — has been a boot camp in resiliency. And the training pays off: the more stress you embrace, the less it dominates you. The more change you put yourself through, the better you get at managing it.
I’m working that adaptability muscle, and it’s responding.