Showing its back, and showing its front,
A falling maple leaf
Nothing to grab on to.
This van thing is really working for me. I keep waking up happy and going to sleep happy and pretty much happy in between. I feel very uncomplicated. Simple. Not fussed. Living in this van this summer has afforded me bountiful servings of the things that I love in life. I’ve had solitude, time with people I care about, time for creative explorations including writing, photography and music, and great doses of natural beauty. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy the van so much. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, it’s just that I didn’t have a lot of expectation. Buying and building out a van made sense, since I rent out my home about a third of the year, yet I didn’t quite know that it’d be this enjoyable, this satisfying, this supportive of a lifestyle which I enjoy. In truth, I’m finding that I am actually loving it.
I’ve found a nice balance with it too. I’ve had time this summer with friends who matter to me, time engaging with the greater community (including at the Oregon Country Fair and the Kate Wolf Music Festival), time for exploring new places on my own, time in solitude in nature including a seven night stint on the Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula, and for the past couple of weeks sharing the van and more nature time with a lovely woman friend. It’s all a balance for me. Solitude supports more time with thoughts and creative pursuits, and time with friends or a traveling mate brings depth and supports the joys which come from connection and exploring the world with others. For people who value quietude, van life works well and especially so for people who have pursuits which transfer readily to the road.
When I am home, I find I am too easily distracted to find as much time to focus on creative endeavors. There’s always a home project, an airbnb guest or task, a device with an internet connection – something to draw my attention and keep me a little separated from the energies of creative expression. Being in the van significantly reduces the distractions. It’s as if the van itself serves as an isolation chamber for creativity. I can easily see taking off in the van for an extended period to focus on a book or other project that requires extended time and focus.
The truly surprising thing so far is that this time in the van is making me rethink how I live my life. I have a good life already, don’t get me wrong. In fact it’s a wonderful life. I’m coming to see how much I appreciate physical and temporal spaciousness in my life, how much I enjoy nature and quietude, and how important personal creative expression is to me. This van simplifies things, brings me into nature and creates space. It has me thinking more about how I might create/allow a life which keeps me in flow with time, place and nature.
I really value the ground of home. Having a place where I live, where I belong, where I call home is very important. Some may see my life as having frequent travels. What they may fail to see is that I tend to go to places that have become like second homes. My travels generally take me to Nepal where I live alongside Nepal Orphans Home, a place where I have 100 different family members who all call me “brother” and among whom I find purpose, service and connection. I also travel to Thailand to spend time with my father and step mother and their furry entourage. Both of these places are like second homes to me. Similarly, this van is also a home away from home, allowing me to move about the world and maintain that sense of ground wherever I go.
So life is good, and truth be told, I’m having a hard time bringing this summer of travels to an end. The more time I spend in nature, the more civilization becomes unpalatable to a degree. Even Kalispell, Montana, a small mountain town from where I post this feels a bit like big city Babylon. My original intention was to be home right about now, but instead I find myself yearning for more places of beauty, spaciousness and tranquility. The more my creative juices flow with music and writing, the more ease my soul feels, the happier I tend to be overall and the less I want this roll to come to an end.
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”