Whittling Down To Our Version Of Essential

This week marks seven months living in the van, five of those months traveling through Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

I wrote last week that we've been feeling a bit displaced with so much vagabonding and were seriously considering a reprieve from the travel to regain focus, reinforce routine, replenish funds, and continue chipping away at crafting a way of life that most agrees with us.

Pride can get in the way of wisdom. Our objective when we moved into the van wasn't to be in constant motion or traveling. I let the smaller picture of living #vanlife cloud the grander vision. As a result this idea of stopping felt like a failure to me on some level. I remind myself that "driving" isn't the measure of success; adventurous and vital living are the criteria we established from the onset. Our intention when we began was to get dirty in the mountains, pursue optimal mental wellness, and explore small towns that might become a new place to settle. As well, and most importantly, we wished to live essentially in order to allow ourselves the flexibility to explore personally meaningful work. We wanted to make a change in the way we live. Living vanlife, dirtbag, nomadic is about whittling down to our version of essential and challenging mainstream beliefs on how we live. We wanted to empower ourselves to craft vital lives off the beaten path (or in our case trail), and exist more instinctively and intuitively.

Mostly it feels like we are succeeding. However, there are periods in which we question our choices. We questioned choices when we lived mainstream, now we have different questions. This is the process of growing as individuals; questions, doubt, decisions, then action. We're making big decisions without much of a net beneath us and that is scary. As much as we try to forecast and map our journey, our work, and the progression of our lives over the next 6, 12, or 18 months, we are consistently reminded that forecasting is volatile. Weather rolls in that forces a change in plans, mechanical issues create obstacles to overcome, physical injuries require adjustments, spontaneous decisions to embark on a new humble adventure changes our course. The Universe sets before us both roadblocks and opportunities, equally. How we interpret and act is the difference between a life of growth and fulfillment, and one that is fixed and lackluster.

We chose this essential and mobile way of life to allow us the flexibility to stop and enjoy a location if we wished, then to pick up and go again if a new humble adventure beckoned. Our adventures aren't going to land us on the cover of a magazine. We aren't trying to live epic. We wish to structure our lives in a way that supports the ability to act upon our desires for mountains, running, writing and reading. By choosing to live without rent, mortgages, car payments, and copious material goods that tended to tether us in the past, we can make passionate and essential choices that lead to a fulfilling life.

This morning we find ourselves back in Bishop, CA, looking at the snow-capped peaks of the Eastern Sierra. Though filled with trepidation, we are earnest to begin another adventure in living essentially. We'll look for work, explore trails, put together projects for the summer, attempt to insert ourselves into the running and bibliophile community, and determine if the Eastern Sierra aligns with our way of life.

— Paul