The benefits of simple living

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” Henry David Thoreau wrote these famous words in his book “Walden.”

You see, Thoreau wanted to live a barebones style of life. By learning self-reliance through a simple living, he achieved an extraordinary level of independence. Thoreau composed Walden over the two years he spent living in a cabin.

But this was no ordinary home for Thoreau. He built it himself in 1852.

Thoreau is not the only one to try building his own house. Across the nation people are building their own tiny homes, typically under 500 square feet.

One tiny homeowner lives in 86 square feet, about the size of a two person jail cell.

Many U.S. counties have minimum square footage requirements for permanent residences. To get around this problem, people are building their tiny houses on trailers. Houses built on trailers are highly portable if pulled by a pickup truck.

Tiny houses are good economic and environmental investments.

Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Tiny: A Story About Living Small. The documentary follows a couple with no construction experience as they build their own house. Costing $26,000 to build, the house is fully furnished with running water, heat and electricity.

It took them close to a year to build. Since tiny houses occupy little space and use fewer resources, they can run off of  solar panels and propane. Utilities also cost very little since it takes little power to heat a small place.

Growing up in a family that valued nature, I went camping every summer. What I enjoyed most about each summer was getting to spend time with my grandpa. We would go hiking in the morning, working up a sweat before a delicious lunch. The sun would set as the smell of hamburgers on a charcoal grill filled the sky. Then, in the dark, personal cherries pies or s’mores were cooked beside a crackling flame. Life was simple then. Life was great.

My family and I would be crammed into a tent when I was in elementary school. By the time I got to middle school, we upgraded to a trailer, rounding off the last few years in a small rental cabin.

There’s something spiritually uplifting about living simple and small. No distractions of a busy city life and no stress. My priorities were not on how many ‘likes’ I got on my profile picture, or how many upvotes the Yik Yak post I stole from Twitter received.

Instead, I was concerned with how many sunfish, walleye or bass we could catch before dusk. Some nights, what we caught was the only thing we had for dinner.

150 years after Thoreau, my family and I were unknowingly trying to live as he did. I enjoyed every one of my August camping trips. It was my kind of vacation. A kind of vacation you never want to leave. It makes sense now to build my own tiny house when I can, travel to a beautiful location and live deliberately everyday.

My dream is to wake up to the call of a loon at dawn overlooking the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, taking a step into the fresh air with a cup of tea in hand.

Nick Sallen is the opinion editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]