It’s been two full weeks on the road now. After a couple of years of planning, our three-month vagabonding life sabbatical is in full swing.
‘Vagabond’ kind of has a negative connotation to it, doesn’t it? Well, I really don’t think it should.
You see, I read a book called Vagabonding once, written by a real cool dude named Rolf Potts. I read it a few years ago and it sparked something inside of me; the idea of intermittent long term travel. It appealed to me. It just made sense.
There are no doubt benefits to stepping back from our day to day life, to gain a new perspective and grow a bit through adventure. Surely everyone can benefit in some form from escaping their routine.
I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I’ve never really liked any of the jobs I’ve had but, I thought to myself, if there are other people doing this then why can’t I?
So as our trip approached, I read the book again. I wanted to get in the right mindset.
One part in particular struck a cord this time. Potts writes about Charlie Sheen’s character in Wall Street. In the movie, he’s on a date and he tells the woman that he’s staying in the money game just long enough to retire young with millions, so he can drive his motorcycle across China.
Rolf points out the stupidity of that statement. Anyone working for even a modest wage in the U.S. could save enough money in a few months to drive a motorcycle across China. You don’t have to be a millionaire to do it.
This really got me thinking about how our society sees long-term travel; as a luxury or an activity for adventurous college students, the idle rich, trust funds kids or retirees exclusively. The rest of us, have to work. We’re not really expected or encouraged to go on adventures, at least not adventures longer than your average two-week vacation.
As JB and I make our way North and West through the mountains with Jacko in the back seat and our Airstream in the rear-view, I’ve been reflecting on this concept.
Why haven’t we been encouraged to go on adventures? Why is it that our society is set up in a way that makes us (Wait, is it just me?) feel that the only life trajectory that is “successful” is to go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have babies and retire … and then maybe do what you want. Is it any wonder that self-help is now a billion dollar industry? There are a lot of us out there for whom this equation just doesn’t add up.
JB and I have encountered many other travelers on our path. Most of them young families with kids on summer vacation, Asian tourists by the busload, bikers, solo and in packs, and lots and lots of retirees, traveling the country in RVs much nicer than our Airstream and finally getting to see the country. We affectionately refer to this group as “The Gerri’s,” short for geriatrics and we love them.
We’ve yet to encounter anyone doing what we are doing though. We know they must be out there (actually, we see some on Instagram); we just haven’t met them yet. Maybe we’re not sick enough of each other yet to try to seek out new friends.
My mom has informed me that it’s actually because there aren’t a lot of others like us doing what we’re doing. We are strange, to use her language. And although she’s been very supportive, I can tell that she’s just kind of appeasing me, waiting for my return to the real world of mortgages and babies. I know she thinks I should just get this out of my system and try to find a new job, one I’ll like this time. And who knows, maybe I will. Maybe I will realize that the grass was greener back over that fence and that would be fine with me too.
But the thing is, and the thing that BShan and I are so adamant about here at CTK, is that we don’t have to do life the way we’ve been told we do. We can design whatever life we want. We can take chances and go on adventures and change things that aren’t working.
Maybe for you it’s not long-term travel, maybe it’s quitting your job to knit little caps for dogs. Maybe it’s going back to school to be a teacher after a decade of producing television. Whatever it is, it’s possible and you can make the choice to do it.
It probably won’t happen overnight. It will probably be way more difficult than you think but, it’s always your choice to go after it or not.
We really can do what we want with our lives.
We don’t have to wait until we make millions or retire, as Gerri’s, to see the country. We don’t have to stay at jobs we hate or in cities we don’t like or in relationships that don’t feel right or anything else for that matter.
We can do what we want.
There will always be consequences to our choices and some of those consequences might be deal breakers but, the fact remains, we are free, we have a choice.
We might have to accept a higher level of uncertainty. We might have to deal with unpleasant outcomes. We might have to accept the fact that we can’t have it all. But I think if we get clear, we will realize that we don’t actually want it all. We just want what we want, which is different.
JB and I have made the choice to accept a higher level of uncertainty than we’ve faced in the past so that we could go on an adventure together.
We’ve chosen to live with less money for a while. We’ve chosen to live in a tin can for a while. We’ve chosen not have a real home for a while. I’ve chosen to have to turn the water off as I wash my hair in the shower and maybe shave my legs a bit less for a while. It’s not always easy and sometimes I get nervous about it all, of course, but it’s a choice nonetheless.
You can do, have, and be anything you want in life. You just have to decide what it is and then take the action and make the choices, some of which might not be easy.
To be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen in the coming months. This could all be a giant mistake. I just know that at one point, I read a book called Vagabonding and deep in my little, dramatic soul I said, “I have to do that.”
Now, a few years later, here I am. I am literally vagabonding through the country with my husband and my dog. I had lunch on top of a mountain next to a lake yesterday. I’ve made it happen. I’m living a cool life that I read about in a book once.
No matter what happens in the future, we made this trip happen. We decided we didn’t necessarily have to do things the way we’ve been told. We decided we didn’t have to wait to retire to see the country.
And guess what, you don’t have to wait to retire to do whatever your version of driving your motorcycle across China is. You can figure out a way to make it happen sooner than you think.
We always have a choice. We just have to know what we want, believe that it’s possible, and make the choice to go do it.