Today I am reminded that our journey is our own. The path we choose, the way in which we travel down that path, is ours and ours alone. Yours is yours, and mine is mine. We may share a passion for adventure or travel, we may swap stories or equipment or destination recommendations and have some shared commonalities. In the end, however, the key to OUR success will be to do it our way.
I fell into this trap while working at the Overland rally. I saw so may adventure set-ups that blew my shit out of the water. I mean, these folks can go just about anywhere and do just about anything in just about any weather. I walked around the event, taking in the sights and sounds. I was honestly overwhelmed by it all. It was easy for me to get caught up in the moment and only see the biggest and brightest of who was there and the set-up they had. Me with my bent tent and no way to cook felt small and inadequate. I felt out of place.
I pulled myself out of this negative funk by talking to others who did not have the biggest or brightest or best equipment. They were making due with what they had, or they saved some money (literally tens of thousands of dollars) and either made it themselves or MacGyver-ed some older piece of equipment. They no more had the money than I did. You know what? We were still doing it; the IT that is the travel or the camping or the off-roading. We were still pursing our passions and finding ways to adventure.
This morning it came up again. Twice. First, my darling daughter got all over my case for a couple reasons. First, my tent is six feet tall. What was I thinking? Of course I had issues with the wind and why did I need a tent that big and who does that – on she went. Then I got an ear full about how I pay for camping when there is free camping all over the place. Of course I need to find some work, paying that much, blah blah blah. I mean, she comes by this judgmental framework naturally, as it is in my DNA. I hear so much of myself in her words. I got an ear full about how I am doing it all wrong and the ways I can do this cheaper and with different equipment. Again, blah blah blah.
Next, I was reading a post on the Women on the Road Facebook group. A young lady was feeling inadequate and stressed because she was not living “the van life” full time and had an apartment that she shared and she felt torn between two worlds. I was first to speak up and support her to do this “van life” in anyway that works for her. This is not a contest nor is this, in particular, a race or formal challenge. She was feeling inadequate because she was, in her mind, not meeting the target of this thing she reads about called “van live”. Feeling inadequate and less than.
These are good reminders for me as I continue to struggle with my choices and the challenges they bring. I like my big tent and I love having the room and the space to put all my clothes, my chair when the weather sucks, and be able to stand up and move around. Darling Daughter said, “What, are you doing yoga?” Well, in fact, I can if I want to! I do not want to spend a rainy afternoon in a sitting position. I want my clothes with me so I can make the choices of what to wear based on the weather of the moment. I like not having to crawl around in the Jeep every day to get that thing I need, because it is probably in the tent. I like having a camp spot where I have things to do and water and a picnic table. I am buying a tailgate table for the Jeep so that I do have a place to use if or when a picnic table is not an option. It will not replace a picnic table, but will do in a pinch. I do have one of those solar heated outdoor shower things. I use it for dishes. Frankly, you have to have a lot of fucking sun to get it warm and there must be something to hang it from. Currently, for my $20 I have a pole to hang it from, but I do not intend to shower there. I intent to use the included shower with real walls and water as hot as I want for as long as I want.
I hear her in my ear, I read the post, and I know that I, too, succumb to the torrent of opinions and judgements and value-based observations of others. I will not do this your way and you will not do this my way. What I call an adventure you call glamping. What you call “van life” someone else will call weekend warrior. So what? Fuck them and fuck their opinions. This is me living in a way that works best for me, makes me happy, and of my choosing. If this does not work for you, fuck off. Conversely, I need to improve. I need to be confident in my choices, more supportive of how others are doing their own adventures, and look to be uplifting rather than critical. This does not always come naturally to me, as my daughter so blatantly reminds me. It is easy for me to feel superior in my gigantic tent with I see others in their one-person, low to the ground dwellings, struggling to get dressed. Then again, whose tent poles bent?
The lesson for today is acceptance and confidence. Accept how others choose to accomplish their goals, live their lives, and the choices they make. Accept that I may have chosen differently. Have confidence in those choices, in what works for me, in what makes me happy. Have confidence to change any part of what I am doing for that thing or that piece of equipment that will or can give me a better experience. I have friends who like to say “you do you”. I hate that statement because, in a more personal sense, I am tired of “doing myself” wink wink. I do understand what they mean. They mean exactly what I am talking about.
Today, do what works for you and I shall do what works for me. Perhaps we can exchange ideas or tips or recommendations. Let us both work hard to support each other in whatever way we choose to live our lives as authentically, genuinely, and passionately as we can. Let us each have the confidence to stand behind our choices and not judge ourselves based on how someone else is living their travel adventure.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Oh, and God, while we are here, grant me confidence in my choices and the ability to support others in theirs.