Just a couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit Disney World in central Florida with my family. It was a magical time (would you expect any less?) that was full of childhood memories and storybook worlds. My 5-year old daughter and I spent the first day making our way through storybook rides like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Under the Sea, in places like FantasyLand and AdventureLand. That night as we laid in bed, barely able to keep our eyes open, I quickly scanned my Instagram feed. Of particular note was the increasing number of tiny house art creations. From illustrations to 3D printings, ceramics to fairy gardens, my feed had become less of a “inside the building of” to more of a imagination station. It was at that point that I realized what was once a very technical love for tiny houses had been replaced by a more whimsical version. Or had it?
As a child I was a nester. I slept on the top bunk of a double bunk and when I would go to sleep at night everything near and dear to me was up on that bed. I routinely shared my space with He-Man, the frontline of G.I. Joe, and even a Pound Puppy or two. I felt so comfortable knowing that all I felt I needed (and some would argue, wanted) was at arm’s reach. As I began to read alone I fell in love with books like The Boxcar Children and Henry and the Clubhouse. In those books the lead characters existed in small spaces. They were at peace with their most immediate surroundings. They made home from what was around them. While the stories were purely make-believe, they resonated with me in major ways.
The next morning at breakfast I kept thinking about how I felt in those storybook lands. I didn’t care about hot water heaters or solar energy or even composting toilets. I cared about how I felt. I was free. I wasn’t held down by things. Not 24 hours earlier I took to the sky as Big Ben and all of London proper turned miniature. The sound of the rate race replaced by the gentle sound of wind and the lights replaced by twinkling stars. At that moment I realized that Disney destroyed my tiny house. In just one day he had turned it from an overly-technical, code compliant, pint-sized cottage, into an emotion where anything was possible and nothing held me back. Isn’t that how it all kind of began though? In an early interview with Deek Diedricksen, Jay Shafer talked about why he went tiny and how people were coming to place of deciding what they needed to be happy. In those hours at the Magic Kingdom I realized that what I once thought made me happy (long after my bunk bed years) had done nothing for my happiness really. But there in that Disney ride, daughter by my side and wife just an arms length away, I had rediscovered what made me happy. And in those final moments of the day, while perusing Instagram, it was reinforced.
Disney never destroyed my tiny house. He helped build it. Through the magic of Disney as well as authors like Gertrude Chandler Warner and artwork by people like Aysen Pinar, my tiny house dreams had been built; day after day and year after year.
What about you? What built your tiny house? How were you influenced through life to have something more than just square footage?