One benefit of a simple outdoor life with minimal inputs, such as at our field school or on extended trips in the bush, is that there is less stuff. This gives more meaning to the stuff you have, but also eliminates the clutter that gets in the way so often in modern life. When you only carry stuff with you that has a purpose (sometimes numerous purposes), it’s easy to de-clutter.
When I’m in a modern house I’m so insulated from the rain and snow that individual roof panels or shingles are taken for granted. If something was wrong and the roof started to leak, I might not know right away – it could take some time before the signs of the leak started to be visible in the living space. I’m so insulated from my needs that meeting them becomes an abstraction.
In contrast, when I spend a week in a canvas tent or under a tarp I appreciate every inch of the canvas that keeps me warm and dry. When there’s a problem, I know right away. And when gathering wood for my fire, each stick counts. I’m protected, but not insulated, from the elements. The experience of life is different as a result.
Having less stuff, in this case, gives more meaning to my life. It allows me to appreciate the process of providing for my needs. The experience is more powerful because I’m directly engaged, making life a richer experience. Put another way, to get more out of the experience, have less.