Once we got our van legs (and officially became house-less) we started our journey into the unknown. We had to part with some of our fav items. To think everything I owned was going to fit in the van was quite freeing. My materialistic nature was hit hard. But once I started living for the day instead of acquiring merch for my apartment, I was launched into a more self reliant, carefree state.
The first few nights we didn’t go far, but we did go wild! Wild camping is simple…kinda. Find a place, park your van or pop your tent and sleep there. Amsterdam is full of parks and green space that isn’t necessarily meant for wild camping but also not especially banning it…yet Part of this experience was learning a bit of civil disobedience. That night, hanging out in the same clothes I had worn the day before, I ate my veggies and for the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan.After a lifetime of being told what to do, where to go, how to be etc. by friends, family, the government and society as a whole, I began to manage myself. Sometimes we follow the rules so blindly, without questioning why or how they came to be or who is proclaiming them. Although uncomfortable, putting myself in a position of unknown outcomes helped build my confidence and acquire new strategies for accepting the world as it is, while simultaneously striving for positive change and real freedom.
I discovered some awesome aspects of my life that I was too busy to notice before. Being a good caretaker for Rolfie and providing him with more exercise and a better quality of life was something that gave me so much joy! I rediscovered oil painting, crochet and writing. I began to renegotiate the idea of waiting for “The Golden Years” to pursue interests. Put off living a full life now so you live your dream when your arthritic episodes are almost as frequent as your hemorrhoid flares!
Prior to this, my pursuit of happiness had devolved into the pursuit of cash, buying “experiences” or things and showing them off. Sounds dumb, but even after 30 years, I had yet to realize this was happening to me apart from relating to song lyrics and being drawn to some shitty wall art I thought about buying from TJ Maxx.
Shortly after noticing the odometer was in kilometers per hour and not miles, I began to let go of the idea that having money equates to an ability to navigate life. It is hard to describe the excitement and anxiety, isolation and connectedness I felt with each night’s new destination. I was finally humbled by life, on the beach, with a beer and my best friend.