Home – Life is Full of Choices
Life is full of choices – and in order to say ‘Yes’ to one thing, we have to say ‘No’ to others. For economists, this is an implication of the fundamental economic problem – that we cannot have all the things that we want. And because of this scarcity, we have to make choices – not only about the items we plan to buy but about how we spend our free time and significant life-decisions.
‘Homesick: why I live in a shed’ is a book by Catrina Davies about her experiences of housing. Faced with paying rent that was crippling financially, she opted to, as the title says, ‘live in a shed’ in Cornwall. This decision in itself brings hardships and a life without running hot water, electricity or space for possessions. Part of this book is about the unfairness of the economic system and, particularly the Cornish housing market where the low and moderately-paid have an almost impossible job trying to afford to live there.
But this book is also about how we think of ‘home’. It may inspire us to have more gratitude to our families who sheltered us during our childhoods.
“Home is fundamental, like teeth and feet and sleep and love. Home is a necessary part of the scaffolding that lets us get on with the business of living.”
Davies argues that housing is all too often a matter of assets and wealth-management rather than an issue of ensuring that everyone has somewhere to call home:
“The irony of turning houses into money and reducing homes to casino chips is that it undermines everybody’s freedom. It’s not just the people at the bottom of the ladder who are exploited and enslaved, working stupid hours to pay off somebody else’s mortgage. It’s also the people halfway up, commuting stupid hours, doing jobs that ruin their bodies and their minds, keeping the walls of their houses white, because that’s what estate agents prefer, and half an eye on the market, because a crash would cost a lifetime of drudgery. And the people at the top, living in prisons of their own making, fortresses designed to keep the homeless and the desperate out. Even kind and generous people with homes they cherish and have already paid for spending half their lives trying to justify their luck, tripping over rough sleepers, riddled with guilt”.
Whilst moving into a shed may not be a choice many of us would relish, this book makes one think – about the choices we have and the lives we have open to us. Davies has, it seems, discovered insights that are important to her:
“Some days, when the evening sun is lighting up my floorboards and my bones are full of the ocean and my skin is thick with salt, I even find a kind of peace. The peace of knowing that the true art of living is not to gather things and polish then and lay them out for others to admire, but to have next to nothing, get plenty out of it, and give the rest away.”