Things have been moving at an alarmingly fast rate in my life lately. I’m not sure if it’s just me. Perhaps the Universe is having a growth spurt.
For a short time in Portugal I was in a permaculture bubble, where everything seemed a lot slower paced. Since I left Keela Yoga Farm I haven’t been “going with the flow” but “flowing with the go!”. Changing location almost as frequently as changing my undies.
But now, here I am at Mount Pleasant Eco Park, having arrived late last night. I’m trying to do all the things that ground me: walk, drink tea, go in the sea, do yoga, write. So this is my last port of call, and hopefully by the end of this musing my brain will have caught up with my body and I will know, for sure, exactly where am.
I wanted to write about the realities of living in a van and although I try to live a multi dimensional life, that is not based on good/bad ego based judgement indulging in best/worst scenarios or drama. For the purpose of explaining van life… it’s pretty handy. So here’s the top 5 best and worst things about living in a van. Yoga reminds us to change what we can and accept what we can’t. Van life is like yoga on steroids.
Lets start with the darkness… the shit bits about having a rolling home:
I can’t help but apologise to mother earth every time I put Diesel in Eric the van. I know where its come from and it hurts. Not enough to stop doing it but I definitely wince. I plan to plant lots of trees and one day hopefully be so happy in one place I never have to drive again. But I can’t face it right now. I can’t wait for the day my wanderlust is powered by renewables.
This is going to be tricky and all depends on if it’s a warm summer or not. Last year was pretty bad. I was very grateful to be living in a house after spending the day working on the beach being exposed to gales force winds and hail storms. Fingers crossed this year will be milder, although this does not mean I am wishing for global warming. Just a decent summer. In case of emergency during a chilly night I add in some or all of these: Hot water bottle, gas stove, winter Pjs.
I have 4 surfboards, a paddleboard, a bike, a non negotiable need for a large, memory foam mattress and countless clothes, shoes, wetsuits and bikinis plus a massive batch of home brew kombutcha. I don’t need all this “stuff” but it definitely makes life more fun! The problem is keeping it all in my tiny home… and making sure its all strapped down if I need to move. I’m learning what are necessities and what just gets in the way, but I’ll tell you this: minimalism is the way forward and all the junk in my trunk does not bring me happiness. The memories I create on the road are what matters.
I have a long wheel based citroen van. It’s a beast. But my Dad has already put some dents in it so I’m not precious about the external aesthetic. Although I aim to uphold my record of never being in a crash. And I just prefer to avoid small car parks or one way systems, like in St Ives. Instead I park 30 minutes out of town and cycle or walk to work. It’s healthier for me and cheaper too. I refused to get stressed driving, this refusal can sometime be stressful, but I think its worth it to avoid the stress.
I’m going to have to go there: POO. We all do it and it’s perfectly natural. But holding it is in is not. I’m very lucky to live at the Eco Park which has great facilities so haven’t yet had to embrace any other options. I don’t plan to either.
And the light at the end of the tunnel… the rainbow after the rain… the best blimmin bits about Van life:
Nature on your doorstep
I have probably watched more sunsets and moon rises in the last month than the rest of my life. And this is one of my defining aspects of general contentment. If I am outdoors, with enough time and space to appreciate the day starting or ending I am in a good place, Being in a good place every day is a great place to be. It’s not what tickles everyone’s fancy, but I’ve dipped in and out of enough things in this life to know this is one of the small, simple pleasures that makes my heart sing.
Back to basics
Just like being immersed in nature, van life has reaccustomed me to the foundations of human functioning: eat, sleep and shelter. Food and water are essentials, along with a good nights sleep and a place to hide if the elements are feeling wild. On top of that are things like cleaning, working and playing, which in my book are pretty essential too. (I haven't yet ventured into procreating but I have had guys give me their numbers in car park!) But what is key is that my priorities have been put in the right order. Nourishing my physical body and mind is first and foremost.
I loved creating my own van, because it was truly personalised. This has maximised space and every time I function I look for ways to live more efficiently. The van is continually evolving as I spend more time in it and figure out how I can make the design work better for me. I'm incorporating permaculture principles of course - "observe and interact" & "apply self regulation and feedback" providing great guidance on how to do things.
People get super excited about vans, they LOVE having a sneaky peak inside… and I love giving them a glimpse into my world. It's happened every time I park to go surfing, so it's also good incentive to make sure my home is looking ship-shape, rather than like a bomb's hit it! I can offer cups of tea as post surf refreshment to new water buddies and this truly makes me very happy!
Freedom & security
Core design feelings: Danielle La Portes work calls us to think about what we what to FEEL rather than what we want to achieve. It’s a soulful approach to goal setting. These two CDFs appear to be a paradox. But hey, aren’t we living in a world with many dichotomies and paradoxes?? The van works for both: I am free to travel or remain stationary…AND I have the security of always having my little home. I feel safe and that for me, is so intrinsically important… even more so than being happy.
So it works. For now. And just like life’s dichotomies there’s shit bits and incredible parts to living in a van. I’ll take it all, thanks very much.
One final muse: I often set myself mini intentions when I become aware of something that is mildly limiting in my life… Like only being able to go right on a surfboard, or hating forward folds in yoga (which still need work)…along with the big ones like: love more, forgive more, be less self centred (which are probably a lifetime’s work.)
I was privy to one of my little quirks recently and that is my relationship with the wind; it's tumultuous to say the least.
One of my first sentences was: “Wind blowing daddy” and now from my adult perspective I see I must have been proclaiming to Mr. Fox “there’s this strange force in the air and I don’t like it!”. In my 20’s I discovered surfing which is so dependant on wind, making me rather picky on certain conditions i.e. 2-5 knots off shore (which is perhaps rarer than a NW 14 second period swell on a sunny day in June)
And after discovering in my 30s that my “very vata” dosha temperament can make me flustered and exacerbated in high winds, things began to make more sense. But it didn’t really allow for our relationship to blossom. I would just stay indoors and do yoga when it was windy…
So I put it out there this year, to find a better understanding and appreciation of the wind. We didn’t have to fall in love… just to come to some mutual agreement not to extensively piss each other off.
And just as those tiny miracles serve to restore our faith fraction by fraction that the Universe does indeed have our back, I pulled into my new van spot directly under a wind turbine.
Ah ha! The energy that is powering this laptop comes from the wind. Genius!! I’ve developed a new found respect for those gusty days and cannot help smile when I see the turbine going. It’s harnessing and harvesting an invisible energy source, that is completely free and will never deplete!
For any of you that are still in the “but they’re an eyesore and hurt wildlife”, I can tell you that I saw with my own eyes a bird fly right over the top of it. Yes, this bird could sense that the arms were moving and changed its flight path accordingly. I guess birds are pretty smart.
There you have it, a mini story about how I became friends with the wind, why renewables rock, and how van life is flipping awesome!