Van living, van-venturing, van-dwelling, nomadic wild Homo Sapiens.
It’s not an easy topic to bring up to an older family member. “My plan for the next few years of my life is to live in a van!” Usually, no one will look at me like I’ve still got a head on my shoulders. And I get it – it’s a foreign subject. America thought they saw the trend dissipate along with the hippie frenzy of the ‘60s and ‘70s. After that, it seemed like as a collective we were, for the most part, geared towards obtaining success in order to prove our high status in society.
But just as the high-waisted flair jeans and retro brown leather jackets are back in style, so is this way of living. Here’s the thing though: it’s not just living in a van that’s caught the eye of the newer generations. It’s the intention behind it – and the prospect of what it means to want that kind of life.
What kind of life? Alternative, or “conscious”, living. I suggest you take the time to read one of my earliest blog posts, “Alternative Lifestyle: Is It The “Right” Kind of Life?”.
What’s behind van life?
I don’t think everyone should just drop everything they have in their lives in order to follow this novel trend. But what attracts so many people to the idea is the unconventional spirit behind it – rebellious almost – and the freedom that comes with it. And what really inspires us in today’s world? The idea of being free.
For so many years, centuries, and millennia, we’ve been oppressed in some way. Under rulers, governments, dictators, bosses, husbands (and sometimes wives), parents, expectations, pressures – you name the rest. Our ancestors have struggled with acquiring freedom. They had struggled with the concept in their heads of what it might feel like to be free. And today, we yearn to make it happen right in front of us.
There’s no doubt, in today’s age, it is 1,000 times easier to act on your freewill and liberate yourself from whatever condition or situation you’re in than it was one hundred years ago. No matter how powerless you may feel, you will always have some kind of power, and little by little our civilization is realizing this.
So what is this van lifestyle really all about?
Freedom. The freedom to choose where you want to go, where you want to spend your money, how you want to be, what you want to be, what you want to feel. It gives us a choice. In a way, I feel this new movement is powerful because it allows us to see that the conservative side of things can’t prevail over the evolution of our species. You can’t stick to old ways and think the world is just going to stay as is. It’s the little things in today’s world that are gradually shifting to occupy a new mindset: transforming what was old and co-existing with the new.
For the majority of individuals that make up the global population, we may make decisions based on our ever-shifting mindset.
I want to quit this job because it feels unhealthy.
I want to start a new diet that feels right for my body.
I need to end this relationship because it does more harm than good.
I should create this business because I CAN.
See how all these decisions are focused on what feels right? It’s this heightened mindset that sets the stagnancy into motion. It allows for full conversion from the old into the new. And what van life shows many of us is that you can make unconventional decisions, unsupported by peers and family and only encouraged by yourself, that billows you into self-transformation followed by outer transformation.
Do you really feel fulfilled at that job? Or paying unnecessary bills?
You’re going to say there is no such thing as an unnecessary bill. But I challenge you with a concept: if we’re now discussing (somehow we drifted in this direction) about what aligns with what feels right, do you actually need to pay $14.99/month to HBO – even if you don’t watch many shows on there?
But what if something good comes on?!
Aligning yourself with what feels “better” than the alternative option is going to require some sacrifices from the things that feel normal and comfortable. It’s called eliminating the excess from your life. And it’s also called minimalism (read Minimalism and What It Really Means: A Deeper Perspective).
And what about the job? Even if you don’t exactly enjoy it, do you feel it assisting you towards your primary goal? Does it push you towards what you’re passionate about?
It’s all about making comparisons in the end. Some call it weighing your options. To make an unconventional leap of
faith confidence is a bold move. Not many people feel they can do such a thing without first being ninety-percent prepared.
Again, though, I challenge you to weigh your options.
What would it look like to continue this kind of life?
What would it look like to start the one you internally desire?
What would it look like to follow emotion?
What would it look like to worry about things that actually matter?
So how about you be inspired to make the same unconventional decisions?
In your life. To see that it doesn’t have to be some kind of seismic and dramatic shift that needs to occur in order to enact change. But each decision, followed by a bigger one and followed by an even bigger one makes up the totality of your life.