Perception and reality were the ideas that I enjoyed playing with last week. This week, the same topic of perception and reality has morphed into something totally different. Same subject, completely different content.
Rather than referring to how we perceive the material world around us, this week’s version of “perception” refers to how we expect a probable future state to feel, look, taste, or be. Reality, too, gets a slightly different definition. Rather than explaining how the perceived material world is now, reality’s new role has to do with how that future state will feel, look, taste, or be. In a nutshell, this week’s thoughts were concerned with what you expect versus what you get.
Perhaps you’re psychic or just downright lucky and your future perceptions and realities align pretty well. That’s not always the case for me. My previous futures (i.e. the past) have been vastly different from how I expected them to be. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining, because my previous futures have been pretty great for the most part. Anyway, I’ve been nurturing a perception for the past few months. The perception has to do with living in a small home on wheels and going out into the wide world to seek my fortune as a cameraman/video editor/web designer. The perception is really fun. I have this cool little house on a trailer. It has a kitchen, a bathroom, a living area, and bedroom in a loft. The floors are walnut. The walls and ceiling are cottonwood. There is a tiny wood stove that keeps the place warm. Somewhere in this small space is a storage area where I can keep my camera, tripod, and audio kit. My Mac lives on the little table in the living room, and I use it daily to crank out creative and artistic projects. The perception is liberating and creative. The perception sees me as a very happy person. But before getting carried away by this, I have to remember that the perception is just that – a perception: a preconceived idea about how the future might be.
But then there’s the reality. I can’t be sure what reality will be, since I’m not there yet. Perhaps I never build this perceived little house. Or perhaps I’m wrong about how fun it would be to live in a space smaller than my current bedroom. Would I be able to keep clutter to a minimum or would my tiny house become a giant waste bin, a cacophony of disorganized papers, dirty mugs, and clutter to which I’m emotionally attached? Where am I going to park a house on a trailer? Where will my water and electricity come from? Where will wastewater go? (Tiny house people have this shocking proclivity for talking about this one!) Will there even be space for my camera gear after I’ve gotten dishes, clothes, cleaning supplies and food crammed in?
These are pretty big questions that must be answered before flinging $15,000-$20,000 at a perception of a fun, creative life in a tiny house. To help introduce reality into my future expectations, I’ve been researching tiny house living pretty heavily. Most things have sane solutions. You can modify the layout of the house to keep all the pipes in one place and then put extra insulation in that place so your pipes don’t freeze. You can overcome trailer height restrictions of 13.5 feet by changing wall height and roof pitch. You can even overcome the waste problem by building in a composting toilet. But then there are grey areas. Building codes and insurance policies aren’t sure where to place tiny houses. Are these structures trailers, mobile homes, or what? It’s not legal to live out of one of these tiny houses inside city limits of most cities. But at the same time it’s perfectly legal to park a tiny house inside city limits. Likewise, insurance is a problem. Do you buy a home insurance policy, or insure your tiny house as a “load” of “materials” on your trailer? From what I’ve seen, everyone treats these solution-less problems a little differently. Of the tiny house people who’ve shared their philosophy about zoning, I get the idea that people just have to be courteous and hope for the best – apparently city officials don’t have much clout when it comes to evicting tiny houses from a yard. Even so, these are considerations which will vastly affect reality and may not be figured into a perception.
On the bright side, thinking about tiny house living has motivated me to do a lot of research, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the thought that’s gone into it. Now in the event that I do pursue building a tiny house, I can do so with a perception that’s not wildly out of tune with reality. Hopefully that’ll steer me clear of big problems down the road.