Who Defines How We Live Our Lives?

I recently met a very interesting Jamaican man at a festival I was attending out of town with some friends.  The festival was at the home of friends and in their backyard.  He came over from his house because he heard the music.  We ended up hanging out because for some reason I ended up standing with him on my own.  I asked him if he wanted to sit down and found him a chair.  I also shared my wine with him.

He was a total peace loving gentleman and happy and grateful for his life.  He said he has had seven children (he is 69 years old) and they are all successful except for one who he said has been in and out of jail.   He has contact with all of his children, said that they visit him and he didn’t know how many grandchildren he has.  He has lived in his current home for about 10 years and has lived in Toronto, London and is now living in a house in this small town west of London.  He was married and lost his partner two years ago.

He said he lives simply, spends most of his time outdoors, lives off the earth, heats his home with wood and has everything he needs.  He asked me if I liked animals.  I said, “yes, I have a cat”.  He laughed and said “well that’s a start”.  He said he has over 30 cats.   So, of course, I ask him a few questions about this and he says that people drop cats off at his place, they all stay outdoors, there is a barn and he does feed them.  He does not have any mice lol.  He also has chickens and ducks that he says he gives away and a family of peacocks living on his property.

He recently got a cell phone probably at the insistence of his children but said he didn’t know how to work it and was having difficulty with texting.  I asked him if he was on facebook and he said “what is the facebook” lol.   He was so charming and made me laugh a lot.  He invited me to come and see his place in the morning which he referred to as “the ghetto”.

When I arrived at his home which is on the edge of this small town, there was a friend on his roof helping with some re-shingling which was a good thing as it looked like this house was slowly falling apart.  It looked like a huge job, there was a big pile of shingles on the ground and the eavestroughs were falling off or off already.

I felt so honoured to have a tour of his property and home and yes, he wanted me to see the inside of his home which I believe he is proud of.   I walked in and he said “don’t worry, you are safe, there are no animals in here.”  I guess I was obviously being a little cautious.  His place was like WOW, umm, it seemed that there was a lot of nature in there ie: wood for his two wood stoves and branches across the ceiling and a little bit of OMG really!!  There seemed to be a lot of nature from the outside in there.  Not too much could really shock me but his home was slowly falling apart.  His stove was completely covered in stuff and he said he couldn’t cook but does cook for himself?  He had mentioned that on Saturday he had been fasting as it was the Sabbath.

There were no “Goat Trails” but there was a lot of stuff that was old, broken and basically not worth anything.  I gently asked him some questions about his stuff and his ability to take it away or get someone to help him.  He said he knew it was a mess but he was okay with how it was. He said, “why, no, I don’t want to do that”.  He said he was too lazy but of course I know this isn’t the case at all.

I believe he said he has some income from a work pension, will not apply to CPP because he says he doesn’t need it and I didn’t get the sense that he spends any money.  He did have a van in the driveway which he said was his.   He also showed me around his yard and property.  He has some grape vines growing and he hopes he can give them away to someone who would want to make some wine.   I took a couple of pictures but I didn’t really feel comfortable taking them (although I don’t think he would have minded that much)  – I did ask him if maybe he would like someone to come and do a story on him sometime?  He was undecided but I think he has a great story to tell.

Here are a couple of pics from his place:  The first one is actually a female peacock walking with her little one following behind and the second one is a family of ducks who live on his property.  This was once a beautiful farmland.

FullSizeRender peacock FullSizeRender ducks

This story really reminds me of this controversial article which I absolutely love because I think it totally shows how the creative mind of someone who loves their stuff works.

http://nytimes.com/2015/05/31/style/lets-celebrate-the-art-of-clutter.html

Do you have a story of someone who chooses to live differently? Please comment below:

 

About Kimberley

I am a Case Manager at My Sisters' Place which is a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association London Middlesex. My Sisters' Place is a program for vulnerable women. I love my job and all the wonderful women I work with. I am very honored to do this work with women who have been through so much and are so open in sharing their stories. I initiated and designed a Clearing Clutter Support Group which I have been facilitating since 2007 with a co-worker. I love running this group and learn so much from the participants. We offer this eight week program three or four times a year. I started my business Space For You in 2010 and work with individuals in their homes as well as offer some workshops in the community. I am available to speak to groups on "De-Cluttering Your Life", "The Magic of De-Cluttering", "Space Clearing" or really anything to do with clutter and hoarding.
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5 Responses to Who Defines How We Live Our Lives?

  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting story, Kim. As an organizer, it must have been killing you not to just dig in and start bringing order to his chaos! Respecting his choices is the sign of a true professional.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks so much for commenting Janet. Yes, I could certainly see what needed to be done but this man didn’t have any real awareness of another way he could be living. He was perfectly happy and content just the way it was. I did ask him if he ever had issues with neighbours and he said he has been asked to clean up outside of his place and he has been able to do this.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Seems that this man’s clutter does not affect the way he is living. He seems to be at peace with his home, environment and life.

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