The reason I know that it was 2002 is that the Dr. Phil show had just debuted. One of my coworkers was already hooked on it, and had arranged our schedule so that he could be in front of a television from 3 to 4 every afternoon. We were in Utah for five weeks on business, and living in a hotel. It was another turning point in my journey toward minimalism and simple living.
My room was called a suite, which was gilding the lily a bit. It was one room, divided into two separate areas. Upon entering there was a couch, a coffee table, and an entertainment center. The latter held a TV, a coffee maker, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. The bathroom was in the middle of the space, built out to create a small corridor that prevented you from looking straight back into the bedroom space. That held a bed, a writing desk and chair, and an armoire containing another TV.
In the morning I’d get up, shower, make coffee, and read the newspaper conveniently waiting on my doorstep. Then I’d head downstairs to meet the rest of the team, including the Dr. Phil addict, for breakfast. The hotel restaurant had a nice buffet. Then we’d drive in to the place where we were consulting, and work a bit until lunch. Because we were on a per diem, we always went somewhere nice. By late afternoon we would head back to the hotel. I kept the mini-fridge stocked, so dinner was usually just a sandwich and some fruit.
It was a simple life. At the time my home was a McMansion. Two people living in a three-bedroom house with vaulted ceilings, two living rooms, and an impractically large kitchen. It was filled with stuff that I didn’t wants, didn’t need, and was still paying off. The whole place was a reminder of the amount of debt I was in.
The hotel room was simple. It was quiet. I got a lot of reading done. Spent a great deal of time writing and meditating. Rarely turned on the television, or played music. A lot of people would have found it boring. I thought it was peaceful. The juxtaposition between life in the hotel and life at home was jarring. It made me question a lot of things, including what I wanted from life. You might think that the simplicity of living in a hotel was artificial, but no more so than the artificial complexity that my life had been twisted into. I saw possibilities that I hadn’t even known existed before.