Extract Junk, Inject Living


The Origins of Simplification


Even as a young boy, I was fascinated by the concept of living a simple life, off the grid, to free myself from the responsibilities and encumbrances that complicate life and get in the way of imagination and creativity. Every place I traveled through the years, for both business and pleasure, I would analyze the economies, the cost of living, the climate, and the communities through the filter of “could I live here?” 

In my early 40’s, I experienced somewhat of a personal and career crises that forced me to re-evaluate where life had taken me. The months of reflection and analysis I undertook during this period ended up being the basis of a book about society’s definition of success and happiness, called “Tiger Success.” (The book is no longer in print, but if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, it is still available via iBooks or Amazon Kindle, and there’s a link on this page.) The following excerpt from the introduction gives a little insight into the book’s premise…. 

“Tigers don’t drive BMWs, purchase condos, run corporations or rule nations, yet I’ve used them as a model in a book about success. “Why?” you may ask (the first sign you might have the prerequisites for tiger success). The answer is simple: tigers pretty much do as they wish. And that, in my humble opinion, is quite possibly a major component of the meaning of life.

If you live your life like most of the jungle’s inhabitants, your life is controlled and your actions limited by a constant state of fear. Fear that a large, hungry predator will choose “rack of you” as a main course (rubbed with fresh, seasonal herbs du jungle, no doubt). Fear that your own search for food will prove unsuccessful and you will grow too weak to meet the demands of jungle life. Fear of ostracism by your own community (i.e. herd, pack...) if you should unknowingly violate social conventions, mores or taboos. Fear of every sound and scent that signals danger, and fear of the silence of impending doom.

Look over your shoulder. Feel it? Most of us are hunted; most of us live life listening for the snapping twig or rustling leaves that will signal our demise.

Not tigers. Sure, they have enemies. They face obstacles and deal with resistance, but through it all they maintain control over their destiny by careful selection of territory, an intelligent choice of goals, focused ambitions and a precise code of behavior that provides a foundation for every decision.”

It will never win a “book of the year” prize, but in my humble opinion, the book does a pretty good job of foreshadowing the principles of “simplification” that have manifested themselves in recent years in the tiny home and full-time RVing lifestyles. And, twenty years later, the questions I asked in the book, and many of the concepts I put forward as possible answers to those questions, continue to influence my own life decisions.  —Alan