Thursday, 4 May 2017

The rules are... there are no rules!

We have lots of interesting conversations, Gareth and me.  We've got plenty of time to I suppose! Before we met, he spent a few months travelling around Canada.  Too busy having a good time in the early days, he soon found himself out of money and at times unsure of where his next meal was coming from.  Sleeping on the street was a very real and fearful possibility.  Fortunately it never came to that, but despite all the hard times and challenges, despite having next to nothing to call his own, those times were some of the happiest of his life.

Mountains, forest, rocks and rivers make Gareth a happy chappy!

I can totally understand that.  It's a bit like where we are at now, except this time it's by choice!  We have never owned or got by with less, yet we are so much happier for it.  Life is just so much simpler when you're not encumbered by stuff.  Just like Gareth found in Canada, you don't waste your days feeling sorry for yourself and wishing for all the things you don't have.  You don't covet or envy anyone else what they have - quite the opposite.  It is what it is, you accept your limitations and are grateful for everything you do have.  In our case, it's about simply not having the space or facilities to be able to acquire anything more - but the feeling of happiness and freedom is still the same.  No matter how hard some days can be, no matter how chaotic, messy, rainy, muddy, leafy everything is or how much we trip over one another or knock things over, at the end of each day we snuggle up in our spaceship, warm and fed and everything is well in our little world.

My favourite book right now!

That's really what it boils down to you know, that's the important stuff.  The basic things you need to survive - food, warmth and shelter.  Everything else is just luxury really.  I've just finished reading a book by Miriam Lancewood called 'Woman in the Wilderness'.  As you might expect from the title, she and her partner have been living in the NZ bush for more than seven years.  I couldn't put the book down and most of all loved the fact that almost all the places they had called their wilderness home over the years were places we have visited ourselves in the past six months: Takaka, Matakitaki, Marlborough and Cape Reinga to name a few. Obviously like most people, I can't imagine what it must be like living in complete isolation the way Miriam and her husband did.  The rest of the world could literally end tomorrow and they would be completely oblivious.  I also can't imagine what it would be like to share a rat infested hut, survive on eating possums and having to wash my hair in my own wee to keep dandruff at bay!  But by the same token there are also a great deal of similarities between us.

Whilst we may not live in complete isolation, we do have a rather unique existence.  One thing Miriam found and struggled with was the slowing down of the mind.  When you live an every day life, in a house, with other people, or children, or a job, or hobbies, you have a million things to do. Correction, you MAKE a million things to do.  I did it too.  Modern society feels that we have to justify our existence by constantly being busy, constantly doing, making, being productive and if we don't?  We're a failure as human beings.  We're lazy good for nothings and we've wasted our day. Consequently we also spend a good part of our time beating ourselves up for all of the things we haven't done.  When you live on the road, that no longer happens.  You accept that you can only do so much.  It's taken probably this whole six months for me to adjust and be comfortable with that; 'that' being the fact that taking care of the basics each day is enough.  I think it's probably been necessary to stop for a while and be stuck in one place for that shift to happen.  Before then, when we were travelling we still constantly put ourselves under pressure.  Prior to setting out we always agreed we would never spend more than three hours a day driving, when in reality it would often turn out to be twice as long as that in our efforts to cover more ground, see more things.  Always gotta do more, always gotta see more.

These days, we are a lot more relaxed.  It's a bit like the old fashioned days I guess - when everything you do from dishes to washing clothes is done by hand, everything takes a good deal longer and before you know it half the day is gone just doing stuff like that.  It used to matter to me, I used to feel as though I had run out of time and hadn't done enough but now I just feel content.   I know I've achieved all I need to in the daylight hours I've been given and if not?  Well there's always tomorrow or the next day.

If I was any more laid back these days, I'd fall over!

Another great thing about living life away from the norm is that you are not constantly confronted with what everyone else is doing.  This was another area where I realised I was very like Miriam. Why is it, us humans have this obsessions with goals and invisible rules?  Why is it that we base our success on trying to achieve the same milestones as everyone else?  To be successful you need to go to uni when you leave school at 18.  To be successful you have to graduate by age 23, be married by 25, have kids by 30 and be a home owner by 40, preferably mortgage free.  I've known people who have slogged their guts out for years at degrees they have hated and gone on to work in a career they detest just because they 'didn't want to be a failure' by changing direction and doing what made them happy.  Good grief, where is the sense in that?  I haven't met anyone living on the road yet who is miserable or complains, 'God I wish my life wasn't this way!'  I guess it comes down to the old adage that money buys you happiness.  It's only when you get away from everyday life and live on the road or in the bush that you realise that you don't need money at all to be truly happy.  You may be reading this and thinking 'Yeah, but it helps!'  But that depends what it is you want.  Me?  I don't want anything more than what I have right now.  I really don't need it; the last six months have proved that.

This is the 'wardrobe' Gareth and I share.  It's 70cm long and we
have two compartments each.  This is literally all the clothes we need to get
by.  I guess you could call it a capsule wardrobe!

Saying that, it no doubt helps when you are not surrounded by people to compare yourself to.  I know, comparing yourself to others is never a good idea but it's human nature isn't it?  I've been comfortable with myself for a long time - at least, I thought I was - but it's only now I'm away from everything and everyone I realise that I truly am my own yardstick.  There's nobody else around for me to worry about whether they are thinner than me, fitter than me, prettier than me, smarter than me, a better cook than me - all of those things and a dozen more.  Why in God's name do we put this ridiculous pressure on ourselves?  It's crazy!

All that is left of our old house in storage - 
we've done without it for six months, can't even tell you what's
in it any more!

Living on the road there is no pressure apart from the need to stay fed, warm and dry.  That in itself can be a real battle when the weather gods are against you and that is enough.  I really struggled with selling my house.  Even though it was my choice and I don't miss it for a second I still felt like a failure.  However I've since realised that it's OK.  It's OK not to own a house.  In fact it's OK if you NEVER own a house!  Who knew?!  I mean sheesh, when I think about it I know heaps of friends - 'successful' people you would probably say; business owners, really smart people who I thought had it all.  I never imagined for a moment they didn't own their own home, I just assumed they did and found out only recently they didn't.  Unless they win the lottery they probably never will. Do I think less of them for not owning their own home?  Do I wonder how much they earned or what they did with all their money?  Hell no!  Yet I worried what people thought of me.  These days I own less than I have ever owned in my whole life and I don't give a stuff!


  1. Another fabulous post. Your honesty is refreshing.

  2. A thought provoking post Jackie. No wonder there is an epidemic of mental illness and anxiety in our young people. The hurdles in life just keep getting higher. The book you've just read is on my wish list. I think you'd really like this one. It's on a similar vein but it will make you feel positively luxurious in comparison. I loved it & Only $5 on kindle.