I confess. To the bewilderment of most of my friends I’m a huge sports fan. I like watching almost everything—from Wimbledon to American Ninja Warrior, I can watch for hours.
Maybe it’s because I’m so un-sporty that I admire and am in total awe of athletes.
I especially love watching the best in the world and can’t even imagine the discipline and practice it took them to get where they are. It inspires me. If I had just a smidgen of their zeal, what could I accomplish?
I heard a great sporting metaphor this morning on YouTube. It was related by a young man named Andrew Kirby and was based on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism.
Andrew had just completed a 28 day Stoic exercise on focusing on death (memento mori, remembering death in order to live better.)
Andrew insisted that meditating on death for 10 minutes every day had made him realize how important it is to live each moment fully, as if it were your last. It may be. You never know.
He likened it to a soccer player being allowed to play in the last 20 seconds of a game: the player runs on the field, and doesn’t give a thought to the fact that he wasn’t there for the whole game, nor to what will happen after the game.
He just grabs those 20 seconds he’s been given and makes the absolute most of it. He goes for the goal. Why not? He won’t have another chance. It’s his moment to make a difference and show what he’s made of.
I love this. What would it be like if we lived our lives as if we had been given 20 seconds to accomplish all we wanted to accomplish?
I wish I had heard this in time to put it in my new book on finding life purpose. The theme is so similar. The book is called Follow the Trail of Your Spirit and is all about how to live life in your best way.
“Follow the Trail of Your Spirit is a fast-paced, easy-to-read, down-to-earth life-coaching guide to finding purpose, meaningful activity, and your perfect career. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find productive, satisfying, and fulfilling things to do, whether at work or simply hanging out at home, by just answering 10 questions?”
The other day I was fooling around on YouTube, wasting time as usual, looking for something to entertain and distract me from doing anything productive. I frequently find subjects (sometimes bizarre!), that hold my interest for a period of time before I move on to something new.
Lately I had been intrigued by a plethora of videos on van life. All about people of no fixed abode who live in vans—mobile homes, RVs (recreational vehicles), motorhomes, campervans, even converted school buses. Minimalist, nomadic, traveling and on the move all the time, sleeping in national parks, Walmart parking lots, or simply parked on residential streets.
Don’t get me wrong; it does not appeal to me at all, but I’m fascinated by the idea of living that way—so different from my own stable lifestyle. They have communities, tribes. They keep in touch with each other, make videos, and meet up in designated areas. They are always on the move. Many work online and spend a lot of time in Starbucks making money on their computers.
Van lifers take great pride in the fewness of their belongings, are well organized, clean, and Spartan. They value independence and a sense of freedom. They are their own bosses and no one dictates how they spend their time.
But it’s hard! And you have to be constantly cleaning, tidying, looking for places to stop and camp for the night, vigilant about potential dangers most of us don’t ever consider. Pros and cons, in other words.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing else to lose….”
A Young Man Tells His Tale of Van Life
This particular day I came across a video made by a young man in the US, in his 30s, who had sold up everything and taken to the road with his small home. He loved it.
And his story about why he had chosen this life was interesting. (I would love to share the link, but I’m sorry I lost it and can’t seem to find it.)
This is his story. Years before, his father, whom he loved deeply, had been planning for a long time to get out on the road and live his life free and independent in a van. He had spent his working life at a job that earned his keep and fed the family, but wasn’t his joy or passion. He longed to retire, hit the road and really start living his life. He had his pension, his wife had died years earlier, and the kids were grown and settled. It was his time.
He sold his home, bought his dream RV, and set out in the direction of Yosemite. The mountains! Nature! Freedom!
A few months into his journey he dropped dead of a heart attack. Gone. His stunned and grieving son decided to live the life his father had missed. He didn’t want to wait until he was 65 to live his dream. What was he waiting for?
So he took the little RV and made it his home.
At first he found it hard and missed the stability of normal life but after a while embraced his Inner Gypsy and settled in to his new transient lifestyle. He made friends. Wonderful friends. He developed a thriving online business. He began to love his life passionately. His parting words on the video really struck me; he said what really made it all worthwhile was that despite being tough and challenging, at the end of the day he could look back with satisfaction and feel it was ‘a day well spent’.
Wow. A day well spent. Those words hit me like a Mack truck. Aren’t we all looking for this? Don’t days well spentturn into weeks, and months, and years, and finally, a life well spent? Isn’t this what it’s all about?
It seems like the search for purpose and meaning really boils down to these few words—wanting to feel your time is well spent. And while striking to see in a young man, it usually becomes more important as we get older, retire, kids leave home, and we begin to be aware that our time on this planet is limited. We simply want to feel we are spending it in the best way possible.
Do you feel you are spending your time well? Is what you are doing satisfying? Fulfilling a purpose? Meaningful, interesting, and challenging?
If not, what are you waiting for?
(Excerpt from my soon to be published book on finding life purpose, called Follow the Trail of Your Spirit—The Search for Purpose by Margaret Nash.)
If you find the questions in this article challenging you may like some personal life coachingon finding your best life and how to insure it’s well spent.
Not too long ago I saw two separate interviews on TV of two of my idols from the 1960s—Pattie Boyd and Marianne Faithfull. I was in my teens when these two English ladies ruled the world in hipness, coolness and having the most sought after boyfriends on the planet—George Harrison and Mick Jagger.
Back then, both had the mod 60’s look down pat—skinny, long blonde hair with bangs, doe eyes with black makeup and the hippest clothes going. But imagine— a Beatle and a Stone as boyfriends. Oh, unimaginable to this Southern Alabama preacher’s kid. I wondered, what did they talk about? How did they act? What did they do on a normal day? They were only a few years older than I—how did they handle it all?
Well, not all that well it would seem. Both are in their 70s now and have suffered greatly from past drug addiction, health problems, and the effects of over-indulgence in the wild life of a rock star’s girlfriend.
But wait. Obviously I don’t know either of them, but when I watched the interviews I was struck by some differences between the two in how they came across, despite similar lives and experiences.
Two Crazy Wild Exciting Lives
Pattie, as you may remember, met George Harrison on the set of a Hard Day’s Night, and they got married shortly thereafter. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Later on she scandalously left George for Eric Clapton, also known as God to 60s music aficionados. She was the muse for the songs, Something, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla. She was sweet, cute and not too bright (her nickname was Batty Pattie), according to legend. Both George and Eric seemed to get tired of her.
Marianne was famous for hooking up with Mick while still a teen—after making her way through all the other Stones—and had her own music career with one memorable hit, As Tears Go By. She was the quintessential angelic looking bad girl. She seemed to hold her own with Mick until she fell into addiction. She was the muse for Wild Horses and Sister Morphine.
Interviews Give Away a Lot
Pattie and George back in the day
In watching the interview with Pattie, I didn’t at first know who she was. She looked familiar but seemed to have had so much plastic surgery her face was unrecognizable. (Not judging having surgery, but one must be aware that people draw conclusions if it’s excessive.) She still had her long hair and kept flicking it nervously. She was stiff, appeared uncomfortable, and I was struck by how ill-at-ease she seemed with herself. She didn’t seem to enjoy being interviewed and refused to dish on any of the rock stars she had known. Hey, I wondered, why so careful? What have you got to lose? The interview was so boring I flipped the channel.
Marianne, on the other hand, was easily recognizable, just older. She seemed totally un-self-conscious, cracked jokes, and laughed a lot. She was bawdy and funny and not afraid to say what she thought. She had fun stuff to share about Mick and the Stones. Her voice was husky from years of smoking.
Marianne Faithful and Mick Jagger circa 1960-something
I was riveted. She had made a singing career for herself after Mick, and despite many setbacks, always seemed to rise from the ashes. She was thoroughly enjoying herself—owning who she was, wrinkles and all, without living in the past. I wanted to have coffee with her at some cafe in London.
Charles Darwin famously said that the number one survival trait was adaptability.
The ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.
How adaptable are you? How flexible? Are you able to adjust to the ongoing and never ending changes in life? Getting older? Not looking like you used to? Not able to do all the things you used to? Kids growing up and becoming independent? Moving to another location? Retirement? How well do you adapt?
One way of testing yourself is noticing how often you complain. Complaining is about not being able or willing to adapt. Something is not going as you would like it to, so you complain about it. Traffic in town. The weather. Neighbors moving in next-door who are noisy. Knees hurting. Workmen not fulfilling commitments. Yada, yada, yada.
Is this you? Be honest, because if it is, then perhaps you are not adapting to life. You want life to adapt to you. The result of this attitude is that you may gradually give up on life as you get older. And the danger is you become rigid in both body and spirit, uncomfortable in your own skin, inflexible, and grumbling about everything to everybody. All the traits we associate with getting old… and that most of us want to avoid.
We associate youth with being flexible, adaptable, changing what can be changed and accepting what cannot. We associate old age with being rigid, intolerant, wanting the world to adapt to you.
Lao Tzu said, The stiff and unyielding are the companions of death, while the yielding and tender are the companions of life.
60’s Icon #3—You’ll Never Guess
So who is the third 60’s icon? Well, none other than Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Keith is in his 70s now and looks 95 from years on the road, being an incredibly famous rock star and legendary guitarist, not to mention unabashed consumer of almost every illegal substance he could get his hands on.
He is the subject of a new documentary on Netflix. Watch it. He’s a treat.
Keith totally enjoys life, has a wicked sense of humor and laughs at himself and how craggy he looks. He’s still out there touring with the Stones, and in his leisure time enjoys his family and playing music with some of the most famous musicians on the planet. Everybody loves him.
Towards the end of the film he is asked about getting older and how he copes with it. He laughed and said, “Well, nobody wants to get old. But then, nobody wants to die either. So I guess the answer is, you just gotta roll with the punches!”