Before we met, Cody and I both fantasized about living in a van. Our reasoning was simple. We are both too fickle for the year lease required by most landlords. What a commitment! Bleed us dry! Think round pegs in square holes. It just never seemed right. But, we kept trying to make it work, In the hopes of becoming the adults we might one day be. Until the day Cody and I met. Then we bought the bus 6 months later.
We moved into the bus with the selfish intention of serving our inconsistent ways. The investment wasn't enough to scare either of us off, and we made a point to get a loan, insuring that neither of us was out any more than the other. We thought we had it all figured out. And with that false confidence, we blindly held hands and jumped into the belly of the black whale.
Once inside, we began our transformation. The veil of convenience had been abruptly lifted, and we saw what we were for the first time. We had to face the effects of the path we had been naively traveling down for so long. We ate as we had been told, we took medication for unhappiness, stayed in jobs we hated, and consumed for comfort. You're supposed to ignore impulses, be generally overworked, and miserable, right?
Before the bus, we made sure to turn off the lights before leaving a room, we made sure to bike commute daily, we ate veggies relatively often, and we showered semi-quickly. Hey man, we recycled! We were doing our part. But, the whale doesn't care how much you think you deserve. It snatches that turkey sandwich and daily shower right out of your hand as it leads you to a simpler life.
Know what you need, and forget the rest.
I recently went to the Global Footprint Network website to see just how far we've come on our journey. What I thought was a comfortable, but still sustainable existence, ended up being a complete illusion. How arrogant I had been about my seeming earth conscious ways. I tend to fool myself about a lot.
Our Global Footprint in an apartment.
Our Global Footprint in the bus.
Quick note: if you want to see Earth saving results like these, please adhere to the following:
1. Follow a vegan diet, with a large percentage of food being local or unprocessed.
2. Live in a tiny dwelling powered entirely with solar.
3. Ride your bike everywhere.
Now, you of course can do whatever you wish. These are not rules, it just happens to be the way we live. Save the world or not, it's just the ship we're going down on.
Back to fooling myself. Changing our lives according to the above guidelines was in no way the most difficult dragon to slay. Nay, the greediest dragon laid sleeping in the whale as we merrily went about our vegetable eating business. It was the dragon I knew to let sleep and tiptoe around. But, the whale knew it needed to be faced, and slowly began tossing us all.
Fear, and shame came crashing down. We had unconsciously sold our dreams for dead end jobs with steady paychecks and had nothing to show for it but a spotty resume and a little bit in savings. We had numbed ourselves for fear of failure. Dissatisfaction, followed by a steady stream of alcohol had been our reliable norm.
It was a path that had been laid with the best of intentions. We had wanted to live correctly. We wanted to make good decisions, and in doing so became accustomed to renouncing our intuition. Fear stopped all progress in it's tracks, and we bloated beyond our means. A mountain of student loan debt set me on my course, and deviation would result in hefty interest. Find a job you can tolerate, and wait it out.
I had always been envious of others without acknowledging why. I had seen people accomplishing great things, and my reaction would be to feel alienated about my shortcomings, and try to mentally squash those feelings as wrong. I was unhappy, and would envision myself as anyone who had success. Surfers, lawyers, runners, doctors, anyone. They didn't even need to be that successful really. And I would then get overwhelmed at all the achievements I thought I wanted. I wanted to be successful in everything, so I couldn't decide on anything.
But, the bus is a nurturing mother, and wanted us to experience a clearer vision of ourselves, without fear. To do that, she began helping me pay off my debts. With the low cost of living, I have been able to focus my income on my student loans - saving me over a decade of interest. I have also been able to work less, allowing me time to live more.
I get the start I never had. I get to experiment, and create. To play music, and learn a language. To be calm and contented enough to listen. And to not be afraid about fucking anything up, because I know what it takes to survive, and it isn't much. And while I don't have a plan just yet, I am generously gifted the opportunity to carve my own this time.
I don't need to be medicated to get by anymore. And, it's no longer about just getting by. We have one opportunity with this planet, and in this life. And our bus is what allows us to make the best of both.
Never been in a whale before? I highly recommend it. Who knows what sorts of illusions will come crashing down on you. Start by taking a risk.