Maybe this is a bit extreme, but this is how I feel. Well, maybe it is a bit extreme. I guess I should say…
I feel most alive when I am growing.
And by growing, I mean learning… evolving… living.
It has been over six weeks since I hit the pause button on living in my van to return to Atlanta. Unlike My Scotty Adventure, I am not ready for this journey to end. I am soooo ready to be back in the van… back to living, exploring, growing.
A few years ago, I made a conscience effort to live more and work less. With this declaration came minimalism. After all, if I have fewer wants then I would spend less money. This simplification of life has led me to focus on the things I enjoy… the things that matter to me.
It looks like I will be in the city until the end of July to do work stuff (ugh!). To help me get through this period, I will ask myself every morning…
What can I do to grow today? What can I learn?
Yes, true… happiness is not a place, but I feel most alive when I am traveling. I feel most alive when I am learning.
The four month anniversary of living in my van is approaching, and I am very content with my life. It is my life, and I choose the path. It is a simple life… a life with less, but a life with much more.
The one thing I was not expecting is the amount of “full timers” out there. There are many other people living full time in their vans, RVs, and cars. This type of living is not limited to remote pieces of land, as I discovered after spending more than three weeks in San Diego.
I am hopeful that San Diego’s elected officials will do the right thing and continue to allow people to live in their vehicles. As it stands now, the mayor has proposed an ordinance that would block people from living in their vehicles within 500 feet of a school or residence, or on city streets between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The ordinance now moves to the city council for a vote.
I will be returning to Atlanta on May 1, but I will not be driving. Instead I have decided to park my van in Las Vegas and fly to Atlanta. I have not booked my return ticket to Vegas, but I expect to spend a month or two in Atlanta. Who knows? Maybe I will fly to another country during this time. Maybe I will book a cruise. Maybe I will grab my tent and head to the mountains. Life is an adventure. I will return to the van when I am ready.
If you follow my blog, you probably have noticed that I don’t post a lot. Sure… I have good intentions and even better ideas for posts, but they usually get lost in the “would have/should have” pile.
One of the obstacles has been my laptop. Sure… it is a nice laptop, but it is also the laptop that I use for work. Each time I pull out the old ball and chain, I start a post, get distracted and move on to something else.
I have decided to shake things up and post using my iPhone and a foldable keyboard. Is the keyboard overkill? Maybe, but it allows me feel like I am creating and not just ranting and purging my soul on social media. 😛
My intent is more posts and fewer obstacles in sharing my thoughts.
I have learned some valuable tidbits of information since I hit the road in December. However, my brain has a lot of useless information in there. So while I can tell you the name of an 80’s song in three seconds or less (along with the artist and year released), a cool tip that I learned may get placed on a dark shelf in the catacombs of my brain.
Over 100 days on the road, and I have found the mecca for the van dweller auto dweller that wants to be near a large city.
I may be making this proclamation a bit prematurely since I have only been in SoCal for two weeks. Still, if the current court ruling sticks, San Diego may need to change its name to Van Diego.
In February 2019, the San Diego City cancel unanimously voted to repeal a 1983 ordinance prohibiting residents from living in a vehicle on any street with the city limits.
Before you pack up your apartment and head west, remember that this ruling is only a couple of months old. Kevin Faulconer, San Diego’s mayor, has proposed an ordinance to make vehicle habitation illegal. He claims his propsal is in response to “hundreds of complaints” from residents on the “cleanliness and illegal activity related to people living out of vehicles.”
The two tidbits of advice I can offer if your are considering living in your vehicle in San Diego… read the street signs and chat with other auto dwellers that you encounter.
Mission Beach (where I have spent the past week) does a top-notch job of letting you know where you can and cannot park, so read all street and parking signs. Most streets are swept at least one day each week, usually in the early to mid-morning.
Public parking is usually free, but it is important to note when you can and cannot park. Most lots require you to move at least a couple of hours each night.
My routine is to spend my day in public parking, move to the street late at night, then return to the public lot before the traffic picks up.
By talking with other nomads, I have learned of spots where I do not need to move each day. Another wanderer told me of a free dump station near Mission Beach, while a third RVer introduced me to a technique for getting fresh water.
For many people, the response to this question is “I love to travel.”
I fall into this group, but my travel preference may be a bit different than yours. And that’s the way it should be… your travel should fit you.
If you enjoy travel, you should make it your own. Do it the way you want to do it. Don’t do it to impress anyone else.
When I travel I often like to blend in with the locals, enjoy the day-to-day in a new location. My travel is usually not about beaches, theme parks and endless partying. My travel is slow-paced, spontaneous, and reflective.
I am currently one month in to a road trip… a road trip that has me living in a van… a road trip with no destination in mind.
People often ask me where I am heading, and I usually don’t know.
If I decide to end the #sandybanff journey tomorrow, then so be it. I will put the van in storage or sell it and move on to the next adventure.
My travel is not glamourous. My travel is not the variety you’ll find in the pages of Departures (a magazine that American Express sends me regularly that I immediate chuck into the recycle pile). My travel is personal, and it is not for everyone.
My quest toward a simple life began over a decade ago. It took two events to jumpstart my journey.
I was confronted with what would become one of the most stressful times of my life… an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The ordeal was ongoing for two years, and it included the audit of three years of federal tax returns.
My shortcoming in reporting my finances was not birthed out of deceit but instead out of a need to control. I felt the need to control every aspect of my life, including my finances. I was in control of the accounting and tax return preparation for a company that had over $1 million in annual sales… a company of one… a thriving business with an astute leader but an ignorant accountant.
The hard experiences in life are often the ones that have the most profound impact on us. If you can learn from these struggles, is the experience truly negative?
My tax ordeal taught me to delegate… to keep it simple.
At the same time I struggled, I feel in love. I feel in love with a boy. I feel in love with Amsterdam.
Time has a way of sorting out emotion, both good and bad. In retrospect, I realize I feel in love with simple living. This is not meant to minimize the love I felt for the boy or an amazing city. However, Amsterdam and the boy both represented a life I wanted… a simple life.
Amsterdam, the boy, and the IRS audit were all a part of my journey toward simplicity. These things are not part of my current reality, but fundamental in the journey of who I have become.
Bonus points if the thing you create helps people; when those two things meet, it’s like magic. (It’s also, occasionally, a business.) Here are two things I know for sure: It feels good to create things and it feels good to help people. But creating things — especially good things — is difficult. It takes time, focus, and courage. Maybe even a little masochism.
Helping people is easier. There are a million ways to do it: You can hold the door open for the guy whose arms are full of groceries; you can help an old woman across the street (that’s still a thing, right?); you can share your life experience and hope that someone will read it and find it applicable to their own life.
This little nugget reconfirmed that I have a strong desire to create. So, why don’t I create more?
I feel many times I have created in search of validation.
Businesses were created. The validation? Money.
Many times these businesses were abandoned after the validation did not materialize in what I felt was an adequate amount of time. I am sure that my lack of perseverance snuffed out many legitimate business ventures. I’ve never been very good at “treading water.”
I’ve never been materialistic, but somewhere along the journey of life, I allowed money to become the primary source of validation. I began to take interests and allow their lifespan to be determined by their monetary value. So… if a hobby could not produce money, it was discarded.
My blogging has also become a victim, allowing validation to fuel creation.
I would write in spurts, and if posts did not receive views… I stopped.
I enjoy journaling my thoughts and experiences… sharing. Still, I need to learn that my musings do not need to find an audience to have value. If they do, cool, but the validation of increased views or comments should not drive (or deter) me from writing.