When my husband, Sean, and I tell people that we live in a yurt, their reaction usually falls somewhere between Clueless and Stoked.
Clueless: They have no idea what we’re talking about. It’s like they mis-heard what we said. “Oh. [Concentrating real hard] What is a… urrrt?”
Disbelief: They know what a yurt is, but have only associated such things with summer camp, ski resorts or hut trips… in the movies. “Seriously? Why would you want to live in a yurt?”
Stoked: They have been researching how to get their own piece of heaven and build a sustainable home, and are super interested to learn more about yurt life. “How did you guys do that?”
This trifecta is the basis of a theory created by our buddy, Chris (also a yurt dweller). He calls it the What, Why, How Theory surrounding alternative living. Essentially, by choosing to stray from the status quo, we encounter three levels of awareness when interacting with the world.
Typically, the first encounter with people (especailly Mom and Dad) when we decided to live off-the-grid in a “glorified tent” had a theme of WHAT. What are you doing? What is a yurt? What will you do for a toilet and water and power? What is wrong with the traditional homes? What does something like this cost? To this stage, we say, “Haters gonna hate.” We will always have these people in our life, and sometimes they stay in this stage and never leave. If you truly seek a simpler way of life, push past inquisition and help Mom and Dad move to the next phase…
WHY. Eventually, after we had done our research, and especially after the yurt was physically built, our friends, family and acquintances started changing their tune. With curiosity piqued by our persistance, they inquire to uncover our motives. Why a yurt? Why off-the-grid? Why move away from traditional structures? Why is it important to be sustainable? Sean and I feel this stage is an incredible opportunity to educate others. Most will appreciate us taking the time to explain, and go on living life. But a few… and I mean, VERY few, will go further into the last sphere…
HOW. How can I do what you’re doing? We are not living in a yurt to convert others to do the same. However, we’ll admit that we get a teensy bit stoked when someone actually asks about the nitty gritty. Presumably, something about the way we live has inspired someone else who–like us–seeks simplicity and is willing to sacrifice creature comforts to attain it. To these guys? We are happy to tell all.
This way of life that we’ve created for ourselves–literally, by building this yurt with our bare hands–has been the most eye opening, team-building adventure of our lives. People told us building a home together would ruin our marraige. People questioned why we would move out of a perfectly good on-the-grid home, to a smaller structure that required more “work.” But through it all, we put aside what others thought, complied with all the rules and laws of the modern world, and ended up with a lifestyle that has a slow, steady pace and keeps us grounded to the Earth and connected to nature.