Downward Mobility

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by Guest Blogger Emily Dawson

I am writing this in a laundromat. I used to have my own wash machine and dryer, house and garage and lots and lots of counter space too–used to. Basically, life happened. And I will say that while washing, drying and folding your intimates in the privacy of your own home is a luxury, you do learn to adapt and perhaps even cherish downward mobility.

Experiencing it is not exciting. There are very few honorable people who willingly choose this: to move their social status down a notch. Most of the time this happens against our will and it becomes a personal test of strength and surrender. Old habits and routines are broken as we hesitantly release our comfort and sometimes end up feeling unfortunate.

It is, however, also a time of freedom. A time to release possession from our possessions. I don’t have a washing machine anymore, but I also don’t have any responsibility if it breaks.

I do not own property and my living space is drastically smaller, but I don’t need to shovel snow, mow the lawn, clean or organize much–if at all. And I don’t have that weird compulsion to compete with my neighbors over how successful I am anymore. Blech.

What I get in return for this drastic change, this perception of “loss,” is more of me. I get more time to focus less on things I had and more on experiences I want to have; ideas I want to create; and conversations I want to share. I end up giving more too–more time and even money to my community and to those who need me. I’m finding my life much more enriching these days.

But I won’t sugarcoat downward mobility. It’s rough, especially if unplanned. I miss the plans I used to have for my stuff (as ridiculous as that sounds, but watch any Home Depot commercial and you’ll know what I mean). Yet now I can appreciate that even a mundane activity, like laundry, becomes an event: a time I can’t do anything but have for myself.

You should be so lucky. 

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  1. More of me!
    What a gift! Thanks for articulating it that way…. A simple desire and need to cut back on expenses led me to disconnect my cable. And while I did rush home one day to try and turn on the finale of a fav show before I realized I had no TV, then I called up a friend and watched it at her house… much more fun…. But mostly I am discovering some ease and focus and less just wasting time and more me….
    Blessings and Journey on!