I go back and forth between wanting to jettison a fair share of my possessions and build a yurt somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with as big a garden outside as I can manage (thanks for the inspiration, Mother Earth News magazine), and wanting a nice big (ish) house with cathedral ceilings, a fireplace, a chef's kitchen, and a huge, warm-colored dining room.
See, I'm 34 and have spent most of my life in dorms (college and then a few years in the military), or renting rooms in other people's houses or apartments. With my current income, I just can't make the leap to living on my own in my area (outside DC). If I had any courage whatsoever, I would quit the job I loathe, do a full-season apprenticeship (or 2 or 3!) on a farm and then eventually farm full-time, long-term, but my concern is always what I'm gonna do in the off-season during these apprenticeships. I've taken advantage of the fallback plan of "live with mom and dad" enough times in the past in between jobs or after school and my self esteem can't take that kind of beating again. (We get along great; it just doesn't do good things for my psyche to be unemployed and living with the folks.) So it's always the question of where to live and have an income from, say, November to April.
The other thing is, while part of me wants to go minimal, part of me also wants a big enough space to be able to entertain and provide a nice place for other people to be, because I've been the recipient of so much warm hospitality over the years and I've not been able to reciprocate in the way I'd like. (I do have people over for dinner, and I never go to anyone else's home empty-handed, but you know what I mean. It would make me feel good if, in the future, my house could be a place my friends and family think of as where we have holiday meals or make other nice memories. I'm so far from that right now it's almost laughable for me to think of it.)
Anyway, the main point I want to make is that I think part of the reason some people can have minimalist existences is that other people don't. Nobody could have a big family gathering with lots of food and wine being passed around the holiday table if they didn't have a place for this gathering to happen--not to mention enough dishes, glasses, chairs, couches, a guestroom, etc. (And I do realize I'm mostly talking about cultural norms in the U.S., because obviously there are populations all over the world who have mere fractions of our incomes and luxuries, and they have wonderful, rich social lives and traditions.)
I also acknowledge not everyone wants to have those kinds of experiences or thinks they're important. And it's a lot easier for single people with no kids to think about chucking it all and living out of a backpack or a camper long-term. (Again, at least in our society.) Maybe that's the problem -- possibly false underlying assumptions about the importance of "stuff," even for kids. (Not every kid "needs" to be on a soccer team, take trumpet lessons, do cheerleading, and be totally overextended just to keep up with the neighbors' kids.) Sometimes I think the entire notion of the lawn, white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and all that jazz is completely whacko, and it's only because that kind of home & family existence is so engrained in us that people who don't want that type of life are considered the strange ones...
These kinds of discussions really get me thinking about the bigger issues. Now, if only I could work up the courage to make some serious changes. I could be eating the cleanest Paleo possible, but if my everyday existence is out of sync with what really speaks to me, I wonder how badly my health will suffer down the line.