Bertrand Russell said, “It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” In a world full of Kardashians and supersizing, we as a culture tend to think bigger is always better. As a general rule, many assume that the more things they have and the bigger they live, the happier they’ll be. However, in recent years, there are those who are pushing back against the idea that having more stuff will make you happy.
““TINY: A Story About Living Small”” is a documentary about a man named Christopher Smith with the simple desire for a home. An army brat who, after living in 20 houses in 30 years, is faced with the dilemma of never feeling at home. In this situation most people would probably purchase a house, but Smith, with the help of his girlfriend, decided to make one–but not just any home: a tiny home.
Tiny houses tend to be anywhere from 300 to 500 feet and can cost anywhere from $20,000-50,000. It’s important to note that, for some, living smaller just means using space wisely, but 500 feet is the blueprint. Why would anyone potentially spend $50,000 to have so little space? Well there are a variety of reasons aside from a nervous breakdown. After introducing Smith, the film presents others who have chosen to live smaller.
Although there were a few who embraced the tiny house movement in the 1990s, it has really taken off in recent years partly because of the recession. “It’s a perfect storm with environmental issues and economic issues coming to a head.” Smith said. With all of the turmoil in the housing market, the idea of paying fewer bills appealed more.
Beyond the financial reasons, some choose tiny houses because they find that all the stuff they have does not fulfill them. “I think we’re encouraged to do more and have more”, said one woman who had previously been unhappy with the “stuff” provided to her by a job she “hated”. Like her, Dee Williams–a longtime environmentalist in the wake of being diagnosed with heart failure–realized that time is a non-renewable resource, and decided she needed to make a change. “I built my house because I wanted to exercise my values differently,” she said.
In the end, Smith does get the home he’s always longed for, something the audience will rejoice in after watching the ups and downs of his search for home. It was a project that he ambitiously predicted would take one summer, but ultimately took an entire year. Even if one decides that 500 feet is just not enough at the end of the film, viewers will find themselves questioning what really makes a home a home.