In times gone by, I would sometimes fall into a negative space and compare myself to those around me. The people who seemed to have more, do more, be more than me. Perhaps you know the drill of higher incomes, better looking, bigger house, more assets, stuff like that. It is an easy pattern to fall into living in a society that values things over people, looks over heart, and money over soul.
Even in these happier and more carefree days, and most often when I am place bound or on a home visit, I again fall into this pattern. I start taking mental notes and I pay way more attention to the “other” than to myself. I look at what the folks around me are doing or how they are living or what they have and I think about what I am doing and how I am living and what I have. More specifically, what I do not have and how I am not living. I start to obsess about the differences. I start to compare.
I am fully aware that I am living an unconventional life. I am aware that this is costing me money I am not replacing right now. I know full well that I do not have a stick house or place to land that is my own. I am aware of my choices. Hell, I made these choices with my eyes wide open and with full knowledge of my actions. I embrace my choices and wear my life proudly. The majority of the time my happiness is what you see. Most days I am positive and at peace. Most days.
When I am traveling, I am spending my time at camp, hiking and biking, exploring. The norms and expectations of convention are harder to discern from the road. The people one meets and the places one stays do not resemble that which represents the “norm”. Us nomads are, predominately, existing in a way that is contrary to most folks in our shared culture. We are eating and recreating and sleeping in ways that are different from everyone else. Unconventional we are.
However, when I am off the road, my mind and my head and my psyche are reminded and inundated and overwhelmed with those things I do not have or cannot have or, in all likelihood, will not have. I am reminded of just how “other” I am. Examples: I do not get a pension as I am not fully retired. I have not benefitted off a high income of my own, or that of a committed partner. I do not have more than one car or vehicle. I do not own land or investment property or any property for that matter. I see all those things I do not have.
Taking stock, here is another part of the reality. Many of the things I owned were second hand and not items I would have chosen. They were purchased on the cheap or given to me. I did not live in my dream house or in my dream town and I was not doing my dream job. Oh, far from it. Digging deeper, I would never have received a pension at that job, as that was not the retirement plan I chose. I would never have owned my home, as staying in the house for two or three decades just made me sick. I did not have tons of money making tons of money from which I can get that second home or property or pay off any current home. I did not have a partner or a second income from that person or additional resources that person may have brought. None of these existed.
In short, when I am off the road there are times I have to fight like hell to keep the NOT part of my brain from taking over the YES part. I have to maneuver like a Ninja to keep the negative-deficit-cup-mostly-empty thoughts from casting a shadow, or pouring a slab of concrete, over that which makes me the happiest I have been my entire life. I have to stave off the scarcity thinking and get back to the abundance thinking. I have to fight the pull of convention.
Don’t get me wrong, I do know other people who will not have paid off houses or who will not have fat retirement. People, who do not have enough money or resources to never worry, who will not have a source of income that will adequately support them in their later years. I am close to folks who will not have or do not have in a way that is similar to me. And yet… is that all there is? Is our sole purpose on this earth to accumulate? To work in jobs that are killing us so that we can live in the house we can barely afford with a person we can hardly stand to look at? Should I shut down the Ninja and return to my unhappy life of convention?
It is important, when I get in a funk, or when I let my logical self run away with my joyous self, to remember that I am not wired that way. Routine, convention or a high level of predictability do not suit me.I have first hand experience that tells me these things will not keep me happy or make me smile or sustain my soul. I have to look at these other folks as if I am staring out a window. I have to peek into their lives as an observer. I have to remove myself from those feelings of inadequacy or depreciation because I also know, deep into my cellular level, those lives are not for me. I also know that nobody knows what or where or how our lives will unfold.
Who’s to say that they will actually live out their aging years in that paid off house with their beloved partner while raking in that fat pension? Who knows if their dream of retirement will become their reality? Who says I will not be living my dream life, doing what I choose in a way that makes me happy, surrounded by loved ones and part of a community that makes my heart sing? The point is that nobody knows. Despite these moments of inadequacy and perhaps a little jealousy, I know that I will look back on this time of travel and pilgrimage and I will smile knowing this is the best time of my life. I know that this choice has been the only thing so far that has given me peace and joy. I know this is what I am supposed to do in this time and this place. I know the time I spend with loved ones while on this journey can never, ever be replaced.
I have my moments of doubt and fear and anxiety. I think everyone does, no matter how we are living. I wonder if I ever will earn a higher income or have full benefits. I wonder if I will have that dream house in that dream location. I wonder if I will be OK. Like the Ninja, I swiftly push those thoughts out of my head and get back to the business of traveling, hiking, biking and visiting. I put on some music or a movie and let the joy of my current life overtake me. I let myself become swept away by all that is good and amazing about my present. I come back to my glorious reality. I let the Ninja loose and I come back to me.
I think everyone questions their choices, wonders about their future and hopes their dream becomes their reality. I think we all share that place of worry, even if it is only for a few moments every now and again. We all do it, even if we should not.
Cheers to our dreams becoming our reality!