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.
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 spent turn 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.)
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