Lessons In Simple Living From A Pilot In Afghanistan

Written by Andrew Morrison

We would like to introduce you to one of our readers, Tim, and to share with you a letter he recently sent us. Tim is a pilot flying in Afghanistan and living on a base in a converted 20′ shipping container. Threats of attack are a part of day to day life and the sounds of war are nearly constant. In reading his letter, we were moved, touched and inspired to feel gratitude for so many of the things we sometimes take for granted. Living in a converted container, Tim has been inspired not only by his experience of inhabiting a tiny home but also by seeing how the locals inhabit space. Upon his return to the US, he looks forward to being able to sell his 4,000sqft home and building a well designed and small straw bale home on land in the Grand Canyon region. We hope you enjoy reading Tim’s story and his lessons in simple living as much as we did. 

pilot in front of airplaneI have been interested in building something off grid for some time and a series of “visits” to a certain part of the world has opened my eyes to living more simply. I am a pilot and am currently flying in Afghanistan. Fewer places in the world demonstrate the ability to live simply. Many have no running water, no power, and build homes using what the earth provides..and many of these structures are centuries old. They have stood the test of time and the ravages of near constant war.

By contrast, we live in the relative comfort of a base, and we live in a very small space, that being a 20 foot converted storage container. There are two of us in here and although we have very little, we are comfortable. It has proven to me that I do need the vast majority of what is in my 4000 square foot home back in Arizona. When I go home, I feel foolish and selfish…we simply do not need that much space.

Another aspect of being here has driven my desire to simplify life…and that is life itself. We are surrounded by daily struggle, poverty, and too much death. These people are subjected to things you cannot imagine. They are tribal by nature and share much of what they have, which is not much. They live a simple life…so can we.

Lastly, I want a quiet place and with clear skies. You can never escape the sounds of war. The rumbling trucks and constant noise of airplanes is deafening at times. On occasion, the base comes under rocket attack which sends people scrambling and alarms wailing. Its just never quiet and it does take a mental toll. Ironically, the things that make this place so desolate sometimes lends itself to the wonder of the stars. There is very little cultural lighting here that when we climb above the ever present dust, the stars are brilliant and abundant. If Afghanistan were secure, this would the ideal place for a telescope.

So, I envision a home, made from the earth, sitting quietly on a small footprint of reddish dirt near the gateway to Grand Canyon. A place where we can spend sunny days exploring and quiet nights looking up at the celestial gift of the heavens. In fact, we want to call our home “Casa en las estrellas”..home in the stars.

Tim, Donna, and Sydney.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you Tim for sharing your story! My family and I are grateful for the soldiering you’re doing in Afghanistan to keep the US safe and to help subdue those who would keep Afghanistan’s people subjected to the oppression brought on by greed and corruption on one hand and religious extremism on the other. I hope that your family’s wish for un casa en las estrellas will one day come true!

  2. Tim story was inspiring. It focuses one on what’s really necessary and important in daily living. How about an update, a year later, on how Tim and his family are doing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.