Living in nature. I find that facet of van life entirely enthralling and invaluable. While I certainly am not living full time in a van, virtually all of my van-clad nights are spent in nature in some beautiful place. Today it happens to be in the Tahoe National Forest waking on this bluff above one of the Yuba River forks. Rather than simply spending time in nature, this van gives me the chance to actually live in nature. Whether it be desert, mountain, ocean, river, lake or forest, all to me are beautiful, inspiring and rejuvenating. Since pulling this van build together less than a year ago (and still working on it of course), at quick count I’ve awakened next to 18 different rivers/creeks, 5 lakes, the Pacific Ocean, many mountains, a glacier and also the Arizona desert. Being fairly self contained with solar electricity, a simple kitchen, ample storage, a cozy bed and other comforts make living in nature a breeze. Of course I might be able to find a little cabin along a river somewhere, but a van’s mobility allows me to stay in many beautiful places and follow the weather, seasons and terrains as best suits my soul at any given time.
Backpacking in these mountains, which I did as my personal annual solo retreat for many years, had a similar feeling for me, but that had more of a deeply dropping-in quality to it, more of a silent spiritual retreat. Van living, however, provides more of a connection to a regular way of living within nature and with incredible mobility. It has a guitar for singing and songwriting, a small library of books for inspiration, healthy fresh food for nurturance, insulation from the chilly mountain nights, and the infrastructure to write and edit on a computer, all while allowing me to stay connected to my personal home rental business.
My life truly is blessed and I’m doing my best not only to appreciate it, but to learn to accept these blessings. My father just wrote to me this morning with a tangential reference to the 1950s song “Luck Be a Lady”from the musical/film Guys and Dolls. As a side note, it’s been very sweet to discover with my father a shared enjoyment of singing old songs when we’re together, “Luck Be a Lady” having been one of them during our most recent time together. In his message to me, he suggested to ride the luck that I have in this world as hard as I can while it’s here. I do recognize the privilege it can be to have such a blessed (and lucky) life. Most people simply don’t have access to such freedoms, many through no fault of their own. Referring to Lady Luck, my father suggests from his vantage at age 86: “Get what you can when she is with you…, she is a blessing.” Life, and the blessed times within it are far too fleeting to squander a good roll. Here’s a verse from “Luck Be a Lady” about Lady Luck which speaks to this:
“You’re on a date with me,
The pickings have been lush,
And yet before this evening is over you might give me the brush.
You might forget your manners,
You might refuse to stay,
And so the best that I can do is pray….”
And so I take these blessings that I have been granted and try my best to do that which makes my soul most happy. Some days that may mean being of service, other days building or making things, often connecting with people who are important to me, and pretty much every day making music. Today in this beautiful forest, that includes living simply, playing guitar, singing and writing with this grand view out my sliding door.