Saturday, September 8, 2018

Old life, new life, and stuff

You can’t take it all with you

When you decide to become a full-time nomad you’re committing to a new life, a different life. The question—and the potential source of problems, disappointments and frustrations—is how different you’re willing to let the new life be.

Do you want it to be essentially the same, just without housing costs and with greater mobility? Or do you want to take the big leap and remake your life from bottom to top, inside and out?

Does becoming a nomad seem like loss to you or like opportunity? Are you giving up so much, or gaining even more?

Life change is easier for some folks because there’s nothing about their old life worth keeping. But for the rest of us, the idealized concept of hitting the road eventually collides with the reality of deciding what to keep and what to let go—of the material goods we surround ourselves with and of the stuff in our hearts and minds.

Okay, let me pull back from the internal stuff before I get too philosophical and spiritual and start babbling about attachments, enlightenment and the meaning of life. That’s your own trip to make. And it’s not what inspired me to write this post. I’ll concentrate on the material world for a moment.

So, there are people preparing for full-time nomading. And they’re sorting their stuff, dividing it into needs and wants until they don’t have too much to fit in their vehicle. I was there.

But a woman who calls herself ChezCheese has proposed a different approach.
Imagine you have nothing. Lost it all. Flood or fire or divorce or the taxman: you have only your van that was parked elsewhere and survived your own private, personal disaster. Drive around in your empty van (I mean in real time now, not in your imagination). A long drive. Go to a national park or some empty place. Sleep in it, with nothing. Maybe you feel cold, or sore, or hungry. Next morning: decide what is most important to have. Get that one thing. 
Spend another day driving, another night sleeping in your empty-except-for-that-one-first-thing van. Next morning, decide what the next most important thing to have is. Get that thing. 
And on, and again, until you realize that you have enough stuff.
Start here

In other words, start by determining your essentials, not by trying to whittle everything down to a manageable pile. Add the wants after you’ve got the needs taken care of.

Or, as George Carlin put it:


  1. Wow! Most of us decide what we want then decide how to fit it into a van. It would be really hard to do it the other way around. But, you sure would find out what's really important and what's not the second way.

  2. Or you could ask yourself what you really need for the basics of life: food and shelter. You have the van so you have shelter. If you have money you can buy prepared food. I once met a guy living exactly like that. He slept on the floor of his van. In the morning he went to a gas station, used their restroom, and bought coffee and a roll. He didn't feel like he really needed more than those minimal things. I admire him.

    1. Certainly, being happy and fulfilled goes beyond just shelter, food and clothing. How far beyond? That's an individual thing. And are the things we think contribute to our happiness and fulfillment really doing that?

  3. O.M.G. It took 4 ladies 2 days to fill up 2 1/2 dumpsters with 1 woman's stuff in her One bedroom
    Apt.and the SMELL!

  4. ChezCheese here! My exH (I'm a woman, btw ☺️) lost everything but what was in his SUV a few years ago when the house he was building and living in burnt to the ground one night. Starting from zero helps you get your priorities straight right quick.

    1. I have corrected the error. Sorry for my erroneous assumption.

    2. How do we contact the rolling steel tent? I don't Facebook or Google + or Linkedin.

  5. I think ChezCheese hit the nail on the head.