I am fascinated by people that live in vans.
My wife thinks I’m crazy.
“Trust me” I tell her. “I don’t want to live in a van.” She doesn’t believe me.
I saw a van the other day. It’s tires were lifted. It looked like it could go off road. I showed my daughter. I told her I bet they camped in their van. I thought it would be fun. “You’re crazy, Dad. We would hate each other.” She can be a touch dramatic at times. But the point was taken. (And again, I feel the need to remind you that I don’t want to live in a van.)
I became obsessed with those tiny house shows. My wife would roll her eyes.
“I don’t want a tiny house” I tell her. She doesn’t believe me.
I bought some land. Told a friend we could build a tiny cabin on it. Somewhere to go camping, hang out on weekends, or whatever.
Now, it’s no longer a tiny cabin or a tiny house. It’s a real house.
There used to be a name for people that lived in a van: Homeless.
But now, perception is changing. People realize they can get by with less. People are living this way on purpose. They call it living with intention. They don’t accept that their life must be defined by someone else’s rules.
And that’s what I am actually fascinated with.
Trying new things. Experimenting. Finding what works for you. Not feeling stuck. Living Free.
There’s no blueprint for life.
You get to make it what you want.
Because, who is to say what the right life is for you. The American dream could be a nightmare. You don’t know unless you get out there and try some things.
And the best part is, you aren’t stuck. You can change. You can make new choices. You can keep trying new things.
You can start out in a van and decide it’s not right for you. You can live in the woods or downtown. You can eat nothing but fruit or nothing but McDonalds. You can be a hippy with a shaved head or you can be a yuppy with a beard. You can quit your job and become a writer or you can quit writing and get a job. You can turn off the tv and pick up a guitar. You can donate all your clothes to goodwill and then only buy new clothes from goodwill. You could see how long you can go without buying anything at all. You could sell your car and ride a bike.
The point is, you are free to try things. New things. Exciting things. Boring things. Find out what works for you. Rinse and repeat.
There is no limit to what you can do. The only limits are your own excuses.
Most people don’t want as many kids as we have. I understand that. But we couldn’t imagine life any other way. The only wrong way to live is if you are living the wrong life.
I believe that we have been sold a lie.
We bought it hook, line, and sinker. There is no one to blame but ourselves.
What were we sold? What did we buy? An idea.
The idea that we are incomplete.
And because of this, we long for more. We constantly seek out more. More is all we know. And more is never enough. More keeps us hungry, but never full. More keeps us up at night. It keeps us broke and ashamed. It artificially elevates our confidence before dropping us low. We drown in the more and long for more. We are our own enemies.
But there is a way out. A way so simple and obvious.
Less debt, less time-sucking commitments, less junk, less bitterness, less waste.
When you embrace the less, do you know what’s left? More of the things that bring you true joy. True happiness. True freedom.
When you get rid of all the things that you just had to have and focus on the essential things of life, you may find a whole new world waiting for you.
Life is too short to worry about what other people think about you. Life is too short to live in fear and regret.
But life is too long to live without a purpose. Life is too long to waste on meaningless junk. It doesn’t matter if you are 25, 45, or 65. It is never too late to start living with a little bit of intention. Because that’s what we we are talking about.
This will mean we have to be more active in our decisions. And I will admit, at times, I am horrible at this. I’m very laid back. I like to let life happen and watch how it all works out. It’s the hippy part of my soul. But it is possible to be laid back and proactive at the same time.
It’s playing the hand that life deals you, but at the same time deciding what game you are playing in the first place.
We have so many decisions to make in life. Most people waste their decision brain power on these things: food, clothing, tv shows. Then, we don’t know how to act when something important is in front of us. I am guilty of this.
Of course, this runs deeper than just the ability to make decisions. But I wonder how much anxiety could be cured just by limiting this decision fatigue.
I have recently been experimenting with wearing the same clothes over and over. (Yes they get washed, most of the time at least). Every time I clean out my closet, I get rid of bags and bags of clothes. I don’t even know how in the world I had so many clothes. I still have more t-shirts than any human would ever need. But hey, I’m trying. I’m trying to get by with less.
It feels better with less stuff. That is for sure. I feel lighter in my soul. I feel more connected.
But I am the world’s worst minimalist.
I used to be a pack rat. I held on to sentiment more than anything. If an item reminded me of something, I kept it. I have slowly improved on this. I’m just not great at it. (I still have t-shirts from high school that I won’t get rid of)
Minimalism is a very important aspect of my life. It influences how I make decisions and what I want in my life.
It has helped me save money. It has allowed me to take opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have taken. It has given me deeper insights into other people’s lives.
Minimalism helped me see that my happiness wasn’t dependent on physical possessions. I know everyone knows this. But you have a deeper appreciation when you purposefully give up things that you could afford in an effort to live with intention.
A friend once told me that he was a minimalist too. He said he was poor. And he laughed.
So, I think this needs to be addressed. The lack of material possessions is not the goal of minimalism. It’s about having just enough but no more. In other words, knowing what makes you happy and not being distracted from what won’t.
Minimalism is a detachment from things that just don’t matter.
It’s focusing on the things that do. And what’s so great is that you get to decide what these things are.
You get to focus your life on the things that matter to you.
So, this post isn’t really about living in a van at all. It’s about deciding what you want from life. It’s about having a vision and living by a code.
You see, I am the world’s worst minimalist.
But I’m getting better.
And that’s OK.
Because that’s who I am.
And I’m cool with that.
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Some of my favorite “minimalist” websites: