My husband and I spent Saturday afternoon wandering the Home Show and Canada Blooms in Toronto. We haven't done that sort of thing for a while now, and it was great fun though--admittedly--slightly claustrophobic. Lots of displays, everything from rain gutter systems to cured meats to hot tubs to fake grass to massage chairs. We walked through the full-size pine forests and tiny Ikebana displays, ate a potato pancake with sour cream, and talked to knowledgeable people about waterproofing the basement. I enjoyed the mosaics made from seeds and grasses and dried beans (my husband snickered, "That's like what the kids used to do in kindergarten with macaroni"). And we saw the Enbridge truck for which Son #1 did the graphic design, and the Mohawk College garden design that Son #2 helped to install. Definitely beyond macaroni!
I especially liked the sunroom displays. I could easily see living in one. I asked my husband to describe his ideal home, and he immediately said a big square box with an entire glass wall at one end, and the kitchen facing the glass so you can look out while you're cooking. Sounds perfect to me.
That led us to a discussion of dwellings in general. We walked past a lot of displays for granite countertops and over-the-top architecture, and my husband pointed out that on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, our society seems to keep wanting to reinvent the housing part and never moves on to higher things. We keep getting stuck at the lowest levels. It isn't enough for us to put a roof over our heads and say that that need for shelter has been met, so we can move on to other needs. We keep revisiting it, painting, tweaking, up-scaling, remodeling, lusting after double vanities and engineered hardwood, and we're never satisfied. It's to the point where you don't even recognize the home as your dwelling, a simple shelter to keep you safe and warm. Now it's a Home System, with so many features and details and high-end finishes it's become almost suffocating. We spend our time maintaining and paying for our shelter and don't know when to say enough is enough.
So...I'm getting ready to say enough is enough. How much do I really need? Can I let go of all this stuff and free myself up? Become more nomadic? More nimble? I'm going to leave everything behind one day, anyway; why not leave it a little earlier and hit the road in an RV? Or find that crumbling stone hut on a mountain top in the Piedmont. I'm rethinking a lot about what "shelter" really means.