November 6, 2009

Down By the River

New ventures call for celebrations! New ventures beg for recognition! New ventures deserve shameless self-promotion!

What, you might ask, after such an extended hiatus from this blog, warrants such loud horn-tooting?

Living in a van, down by the river, of course. To be fair, a river and a creek, with ducks, raccoons, skunks and other vermin. With deer and birds. Sometimes it's by a beach, sometimes it's in the mountains, and other times, it might be by a lake.

But before you question my sanity, imagine: a beachfront office, 85 degrees, ocean breeze. Early morning mountain bike rides, right from camp. Making dinner by moonlight, washing dishes by starlight. Rock climbs at dusk a short drive upriver, hiking down in the dark. Creekside yoga, leaves falling on the mat. Fresh air, new scenery and inspiring people and places every day.

There are challenges too, no doubt. Cold mornings, the sun low in the sky. Finding basic utilities when we need them, the same ones we take for granted when living in a house (water, electric, internet). Critter camp raids, food pilfered and eaten on the spot. Tight living quarters, limited storage space. Cabinets left unlocked, before a trip on the twistiest road around, contents strewn about. Only one car for two people means planning ahead and sacrifice on occasion. Sketchy laundromats, dryers that don't work so well. Try as we might, things sometimes never really feel clean.

The trade-off is worth it: a sense freedom I've never known. Sure, I've traveled extensively, lived in a tent, a fire lookout, all liberating experiences that probably helped prepare me for this mother-of-all nomadic adventure. The difference this time, it's indefinite--there is no timeframe, no dwindling bank account that will dictate when we must return home. This is no vacation, no job with a layoff date. This is life--this is living the dream, every day.

Sans white picket fence--or roof over my head for that matter--this isn't your typical American dream. My version doesn't include children playing in the yard, PTA meetings, or sleepovers. It doesn't include a house full of nice furniture, closets stuffed with clothes, or a TV in every room. No two-car garage, no satellite dish, and no daily commute. These are things I've never pictured having, nor that I can ever remember really wanting. Society's voice rang in my ears a time or two, telling me that my life's purpose should be to attain these things, but it seems I am not a very good listener.

And so here I sit, contemplating endless possibilities, lulled by the sound of the creek, and waiting for the sun. I have everything I need. I have time to write, time to ride, and time to dream. Clothes on my back, good food in my belly, and a healthy body to make it all possible. Dogs bathing in the rays of sunlight that finally just peeked through the trees. Simplicity is something that is too often overlooked, but once you strip away the clutter, it turns out we really don't need much to lead a fulfilled and happy life.

For now, this is enough. My purpose might be different from yours, and what I need to survive and thrive might not be enough for you. Or it may be too much. Either way, it feels good to slow down long enough to listen--really listen--and trust that if we follow our hearts, we'll eventually end up on the right path.


Ted Martens said...

So inspiring Val! Live the dream!

tara verotsky said...

Great blog Val. I feel like I am there!!! Miss you lots

tara verotsky said...

add me to your links. i love your selection.