The beach shack is small, around 500 square feet, but my plans are big. It’s a converted garage, that was probably made out of two wooden containers, with a small garden in the back. Just what I always wanted: a simple place with the essentials close to the beach. What you seek might also be seeking you, never forget that.
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision as the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
The intention with the shack is to have a place to crash, of course, but also to intentionally explore how to live a life in harmony with oneself, technology, and nature. The first two I began exploring ages ago through my travels – both within and around the world. The third – coexisting in a balanced, mindful, and sustainable way with nature in one location – is my third challenge.
When I moved into the shack on Halloween I created a budget of thousand dollars to furnish the shack and create the garden. Of course, this is a very small sum in the bigger scheme of interior design and landscaping but I decided to only “acquire” free or used stuff. Thus far I’ve spent about $500 on a mattress, linens, cleaning tools, kitchen essentials, and a few heavily discounted plants and pots. The rest I’ve found on the beach, on the side of the road, or been gifted (thank you!).
"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." – Thomas Edison
And I’m kind of blown away by how much functional stuff people are discarding for the sake of owning the latest and greatest. I’ve always preferred the scruffy vintage and eclectic look so mixing driftwood and washed up shells with worn Moroccan rugs and beaten up chairs is just my style. To be honest, I did not know that I could have gotten this far with a perfectly imperfect furnished shack after only two months.
Living here is an experiment in a high-quality, close to nature, and low-cost lifestyle. It’s about prioritizing free time over only money-making and experimenting with a sustainable lifestyle and mindset which learnings I can bring with me for wherever I’m going after this experience. Cause if there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m not made for settling either in or down. The road is my home.
“Even migrating birds know that nature doesn't demand a choice between nesting and flight.” – Gloria Steinem
But until the road opens up again and can bring me new experiences and destinations, new fresh smells and people, new light and laughter, I’m happily shacked up in a place that both has a heart, a soul, and a beautiful spirit. And in the meantime, I’m working on a list of projects to make the shack into a paradise lost. Here are a few of the plans:
A vertical garden out front where I can grow plants and vegetables. A valiant attempt at becoming partially self-sufficient.
An outdoor shower for after surfing. Really a must if you don’t want to have sand filling up all the water pipes.
Acquiring an old teak bench for the porch for those lovely post-lunch naps and riveting sunsets.
A surf rack along the side of the house for our’s and guest’s boards.
An outdoor sofa for the backyard to hang during the warm summer and fall evenings and starstudded nights.
Finding a wood grill or fire pit for those chilly winter evenings but also for outdoor cooking.
A free book box out front where I can leave the books I’ve collected from other boxes for the reading pleasures of my wonderful neighbors.
Finding a vintage wind chime, real paraffin-powered lanterns, and a lemon tree.
All the above I either plan to make, find for free, or acquire for a small amount. I could have the shack functional as per the above specifications by nightfall but what’s the fun in that. I’d like to combine the pleasures of making with the need for sustainability and inner harmony. I also believe that we are at the beginning of a very transformative maker movement where resourcefulness, creativity, and inspiration will not just be better for our planet but also for our own minds and souls.
I think it’s tremendously important to walk barefoot in the sand or grass every day, to make things with both mind and body, to feel the wind against your skin and to be sun-kissed as often as possible, to breathe fresh air deep down into the deepest corners of our lungs, and to push our bodies – however old – to play, run, and jump in nature. If we only sit in an office, moving pixels and staring into our screens every day, we’ll eventually die the brutal death of boredom, laziness, and complacency.
“We depend on nature not only for our physical survival, we also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our own minds.” – Eckhart Tolle
Digital technologies were initially and intentionally developed to democratize the world and liberate humanity to do fewer better things. But with this gift comes a tremendous responsibility to become mindful about how we individually evolve to interact with the world in new and better ways. It’s easy to just keep going as usual, following the same habits, routines, and traditions, pretending as nothing has changed, hoping that change will just go away on its own.
But everything has changed and is changing all-the-time. Life is constant change despite our courageous attempts to freeze the best moments. Just ask the frog that took a cold bath and found himself slowly being boiled to death. That is what will happen if we do not dare to change ourselves first. And what could be worse than dying without having ever really lived the life of our dreams.
FEWER BETTER THINGS:
Vertical Garden: I’m looking at the Wally Gro Pockets as a solution for my vertical garden. They are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles.
Queen of the South: I haven’t binged-watched a show like this since GOT. Plus I’m getting daily classes in street Mexican, cabrones.
Gaucho Grill: Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian chef and bon vivant is using a very simple but yet expensive portable grill on his travels. If I can source it directly from Argentina for a more reasonable sum I might acquire one come summer.
Laser Engravings: Slightly Choppy gave me the idea to laser engrave some of the driftwood I’m finding on my early morning beach walks.
The Girls of Guanabara: Beautiful, inspirational, and so feelgood. When I watch this video my heart beats a little bit faster. Now I’d like to flow like these amazing girls.