My friend begins her new life journey this week, leaving behind her stationary home for life in a travel trailer. A place where you need to deal with people responding to your decision to live in a camper full-time. She reminds me of the long hours I spent sorting and packing to minimize stuff and travel full-time. Not only was it a physical process to prepare myself for this new life, but an emotional process.
Living in an RV, traveling with a family full-time is a choice. No, we are not wealthy, retired, or living on our daddy’s money, just to clear this up among the retirees who come at us pissed off we can do this long before we hit 65. This way of life doesn’t mean we are on permanent vacation, although wouldn’t that be nice! We gave up our familiar communities, churches, schools, and land ownership to pursue this life of simplicity. Life is still a journey for us – we still have relationships to work on, parenting challenges as well as food, gas, and site rental costs. The bonus is we get to empty our own poo, and yes ours stinks 🙂
This living choice goes against the “typical” American way of life, therefore it comes with its own set of questions. One question typically asked by families considering this option is:
How do friends and family respond to your decision to live in a camper?
Jon and I grew up in the Midwest, our families did not travel very often. We were Minnesotans after all! Born to farmers, welders, railroad workers, and feed elevator owners. We knew how to work and save up food for the winters. The generations stayed nearby their families, and then we went and challenged that system with our crazy wanderlust! Perhaps, the spirit of our relatives who traveled out west in the caravan of wagons reawakened in Jon and I?
I think many were shocked, thought we were a little crazy, and of course our parents were concerned for our safety and knew they would miss us. To put it bluntly, we didn’t get a lot of support from the people we loved and knew. I can understand, we were pushing the limits and it was uncomfortable.
They say you face Giants before you are allowed to cross from the Land of Familiar into the New Land. It was surprising our Giants were actually people we knew by name. Some of the comments we received when we shared our plans:
“What are you looking for, happiness?”
“You shouldn’t be letting go of Jon’s job. He is lucky to have a job (recession time in 2010) and now you are throwing that away. You need to think about what you are doing.”
Our traveling friends had comments like:
“Time to grow up. You have a kid.”
“It is dangerous. Your kids won’t have any work ethic.”
“You will not be providing your kids with a stable home.”
“How will they get socialization? They will be all alone.”
Where did we find support?
Our support came from the most surprising places, our 7th grade English teacher (thanks Jim), strangers who had ventured out a year with their kids (thank you Bob & Jeanne), and travelers we met along the way. There were days we looked at each other in bed and wondered what are we doing? That’s when we actually became support for each other.
There were the insecure days when a perfect stranger would tell us how they thought what we were doing was amazing. Little did they know it was like picking us up from the ground with their hands clasping ours. Then, out of the blue a beautiful Monarch or Swallowtail butterfly would flutter by reminding us everything was going to be okay. We could trust the wind too, the metamorphosis. We would be given all we needed.
Now, as I look back I can clearly see that all of the unsolicited advice was based on other people’s fear (False Evidence Appearing Real). I can tell you today:
YES I was looking for happiness and I have found it!
Let go of a job that is killing your essence from within, there is something better for you if you can empty your hand to receive it.
If growing up means to live like a robot, snuff intuition, and stop adventuring, then I DO NOT want to grow up.
Work ethic, what does that even mean? We all know how to work, but do we all know where work falls when we look at priorities in life? My kids do, they are above work.
Our kids may not have a stable home, as in a nonmobile home, but they are growing up surrounded by their siblings and their parents constantly. We are forced to work on our relationships daily because we live in each other’s space. We are practicing family DAILY.
Our children are practicing real life socialization. They socialize with people of all ages from birth to elders. Our children know how to introduce themselves to strangers, make new friends, deal with conflict, and communicate their ideas with others. My children no longer socialize with the same age group year after year within the confines of four walls. They live real life social situations interacting with various cultural backgrounds. This life is rich with socialization opportunities!
It’s okay to leave the Land of Familiar and follow your spirit into the New Land. Why not take a chance and live?