It’s always so interesting. When you tell people you want to live in a van and travel, there are always one of two reactions. Either it’s, “Wow, cool, I’ve always wanted to do that!” Or, “Ugh, I can’t imagine living in a van.” So, I guess either you’re one or the other. I was just having a conversation with my friend, Donna, who wants to travel with me and she JUST bought a 4×4 this weekend. Her thing is, she wants to travel cross country but she wants to stay in an air B&B or hotel when she parks to stay for a night instead of a Cracker Barrel or Walmart parking lot.
For myself, I think that I see it as a sense of total freedom. My whole life I was always told (as most of us) what to be, how we should be, what’s socially “acceptable” to be, and the like. Personally, I always felt like I wasn’t heard and always put in a box. And, being a people pleaser, I listened. But, something happened as I started to get older and going through real life.
My sister, Chris, passed away from cervical cancer at 42 leaving a husband and two young children (12 and 9). She died in hospice and I remember sitting at her bedside, looking at her, and wondering, being so young, what she wished she would have done. 10 years later, her husband passed away, also in hospice, at 52. He had a brain tumor and was given five years after they took as much as they could out, only to find out months later he had a tumor that was wrapped around his carotid artery. The day we buried him, my dad had a massive stroke. Literally, I was driving to my sister’s house after the burial to relax and have barbeque by the pool and she was driving towards me as I was reaching her house. She rolled down her window and said dad was in the hospital. He lived for three more years and then passed away, in hospice, of congenital heart failure. Then, another sister had strokes at 61 and has been living in an assisted living home for the past seven years. My other sister was diagnosed with MS and my brother was diagnosed with colon cancer. My brother passed away two days after his 63rd birthday on October 17th, 2019, in hospice, after battling his cancer for over five years. For all of them, I always wonder what they wished they would have done while they were laying in their beds in hospice.
Given my families history (there isn’t a family history for any of the ailments any of them had), I feel like I do not want someone sitting at the end of my bed wondering what I wished I would have done. I’m the youngest of six kids and out of six, only my oldest sister and I (I’m the youngest) are healthy.
I want to make this short and cut to the chase. I don’t want to do what is the norm or live my life doing just what is expected of me. I don’t want to work at one job or in the same kind of job for 60 years only to have them fire me before I retire (this happened to my girlfriend, Donna) and leave me with nothing. I don’t want to put my future or life in someone else’s hand. I don’t want to just have to work for a paycheck. I want to do work I love. I want to do things that are bigger than me and that show love and leave me, at the end of the day, feeling good about what I’ve done. And, after years of trying, I’ve now finally found it.
Now is my time. My daughter is 20 and at college in Seattle (I’ve been a single mom since she was one) and she’s my greatest pride and accomplishment. I want to be able to travel and enjoy life while I’m healthy and I can. Not working until I’m 65 or 70 and then in bad health and not able to enjoy life on my terms. And, now, people have to work long into their 80s just to live on the basics. What is life for if we can’t enjoy it. I’d rather HAVE less things to be able to DO more things.
Anyway, that’s my why. I want to do this:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson