The Mayday Experiment: First There Is a Mountain, Then There Is No Mountain...

While helping my mom move over Thanksgiving, I was looking everywhere for the handcart – when had I used it last? It wasn’t anywhere in the studio…and then I remembered, months ago, removing the half-built stairs from the tiny house when we went through the redesign of the interior, cutting them up and wheeling out the big pieces with the handcart. It had to still be in there.

I opened the door to the tiny house, and realized, shamefully, that it had been a couple of months since I had been inside. Not that all work had stopped, mind you – I’ve been working on a lot of boring, ducks-in-a-row kind of stuff that isn’t physical building but is still important work: Instead of building the house I am building the website, learning about how to get sponsorships and figuring out where we can do the siding out of the weather (more on that, soon!). In stolen moments, I also finally finished Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking to learn how to get over myself and ask for help…and it’s definitely been an inspiration. However, between teaching and taking on a giant design job, I hadn’t had much time, and helping three of the people closest to me relocate definitely absorbed some of what little was left. But now, it's time to refocus. As with any long-term large project, it’s difficult to maintain constant focus; the stopping and starting stalls momentum and it’s always a struggle to get back on track. But get on track I must, with every shred of time I can steal from jobs and commitments.

Every time someone asks me how things are going with tiny, I sigh and flashback wistfully to every movie I’ve seen of people building tiny houses, and reassure myself that it took them forever, too. The fact is: Life gets in the way. Luckily, attempting to change your life from the ground up gives me plenty of topics besides hammering and sawing to tackle here — but looking at the lack of apparent progress, day after day, becomes a constant frustration whenever I step out my front door. Still, I’m thankful to know others’ stories, to know that mine isn’t unusual — though of course I told myself at the beginning that it “wouldn’t be me.” But when is that ever true in life?

The fact is, many people who tackle building a tiny home approach it from a very unrealistic viewpoint, and I haven’t been alone in this – with most things I do, “unrealistic” is my middle name. Anyone who is associated with tiny homes will tell you: It always costs more than you think it will and takes twice as long. And both of those things have been true, but knowing that you aren’t alone is a comfort, even if it solves nothing. Still, being “unrealistic” also means getting started and just doing it – I think every great project or dream starts with a dose of unrealistic, or no one would attempt these things, right? 

A couple of months ago, Victoria Salvador and I sat down to make a list and talk about what needed to be done. We talked about our timeline (already blown, of course), and what would be needed for the budget in order to finish: $18,000. And though I hope to get some of that diminished through sponsorships, it’s equally likely that we’ve forgotten small expenses or that the price of a necessary material will change. I have reasons to be hopeful however: I’m eternally grateful that the GoFundMe page is still chugging along, (this blog DOES come out on Colorado Gives Day, you know…), and working hard the past couple of months has also put a little money into the fund as well. 

Often I find I am my own worst enemy, but it is important to remember the long game and evolve. As in Donovan’s Zen-inspired words, mountains are both there, and not there. The more you know of the mountain, the more your perception of that mountain changes. And in this long game, hope is everything — just as it is in the long game of the planet, the fate of which inspired my plans in the first place. Though we are heading into winter, I feel an early spring coming for the Mayday Experiment, and the stuck wheels are beginning to thaw. The mountain will be there, and not. 

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, a 2005 Westword MasterMind winner, is blogging out her tiny house project, The Mayday Experiment, on Show and Tell. If you'd like to support her journey, you can pledge here or here. See more of her work at lynnxe.com.

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