Imagine losing everything you own. A cyclone or hurricane has swept your house into a heap of debris. The lifetime of memories in that house, gone… Now imagine choosing to cause the hurricane. Ridding yourself of all you’ve sown to reap. As if disease has corrupted to your thoughts and forced you to throw out everything. Well, that’s what I did.
*Me being full of myself*
SOME BACK STORY
I’d been in love with the thought of ‘van-life’ since I was 15. I didn’t have a future planned out and I didn’t want to work long pointless days for enough money to rent a house I would use for only the toilet and the fridge. Public toilets are free. What a waste of time and money, right? A van was ideal. I could be in nature with all I need- and that’s not much. As long as I had delicious food and water then I could survive. I grew up on acreage in Tully, North Queensland, and after having moved two hours South back to my birth town, this spacious living became limited. My grandparents nearby also had acreage, but my family of five rented in the streets. After a few years we moved closer to Sydney, and lived with small yard sharing our neighbours’ fence. This is when the idea of van-life popped in my head, and it stuck to me like one of those sticky gel slap hands!! Remember those?! I love nature and there’s no motivation cramped between the same four walls.
I miss the old days of privacy and freedom! I never let go of the hope that, someday, I’d save enough money and be in a situation where I could afford a van. Life was everchanging since the dramatic move from my home town to New South Wales. I felt like I was in a game of pinball, bouncing from house to house with no stability. I moved to Darwin with my ex (boyfriend at the time) for a few months, then back in with my parents. They split up a year later; Mum moved back up North with one sister, Dad moved into a caravan park, the other sister rented her own place. I found a flatmate and moved on my own. I soon met my new partner and stayed with him.
Within two years.
I THREW OUT ALL MY STUFF
Instability riddled me, it never felt like there was anything to lose. Travelling lighter would make it easier to move around. I rented a storage unit for my furniture and 20 boxes of accumulated crap, thinking I’d need it in a few years. Every persisting day proved I wouldn’t need that stuff anytime soon. My partner, Simon shared his space and planted my feet. He provided me a bed, that’s all I needed.
Van-life now isn’t what it was in my head when I was 15/16/17 and 18 moving around, but at 19 with solid ground, I have no attachment to my past. I’ve outgrown what I used to be since undergoing these massive changes. Simon especially has helped push me to become my best self. (More on how the right people can change your reality, in a separate post). One strange thing that happened before buying my Van, I began getting disgusting vibes from my Dad’s car he gifted me for Christmas. It was a great car, a decade old, and I’m still grateful he gave it to me, it really helped, but I suddenly starting loathing it. That car carried dogs that weren’t here anymore, the fights with my sisters, the school pick-ups and band drop-offs. The front seated my two parents, and the stereo played my Dad’s country CD’s. From the release of that car, was the release of my past.
I emptied the storage unit, sent off the last of my ex’s belongings, and dumped almost everything into the tip. A solid 3 hours sorting through every single item, organising donation from rubbish. Old stuffed bears, clothes, gifts, nic-nacs, every phone I ever owned- I used to hoard everything! I held onto medallions, trophies, cards, photo galleries, books and my arts & crafts stuff. Only things of use and sense of self are necessary. And of course, a book collection!
WHAT MINIMALISM IS…
I watched a full documentary on Netflix about minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Minimalism, if you haven’t already had it shoved in your face from somewhere, is owning only what is necessary and extremely personal to you. This one guy owned two outfits, a photo of their family and a suitcase! Some lived in tiny houses, which, if that also hasn’t already been force fed to you as well, is a mini house fit for a family to live in. There’s barely room to walk around inside, but has more space than a van to ‘sprawl out.’ So if you want to do van-life, except with your feet on the ground, and a family of five, opt for a tiny house. They’re adorable!
To free yourself from the past, materially, is one of the most liberating feelings. Letting go of attachment and holding onto just the memory is challenging, but do it when you’re ready to take the burden off your shoulders. Luckily for me, I spent years prior fanaticising doing it, so when the time came to take action, I had emotionally moved so far on and personally grown beyond imagination, I had to stop to make sure I didn’t throw out my birth certificate and car keys along with the crap. I was on a frenzy.
I reckon it can be for everyone, just at different extremes. Minimalism to me is more decluttering and moving forward, rather than completely losing touch with your past and interfering with the present. For example, if you’re a poet, like myself, you probably like hanging wall art, random intriguing items and a stack of old journals for inspiration and because they withhold meaning. As a fashionista, you probably have millions of clothes with accessories splashed by the rainbow. But if its a plastic toy you haven’t thought about in 6 years, maybe reconsider… Do as you please, I’m not protesting, we all have different values and ideas about life.
It took four years of patience and hard work to get the money and step toward my dream life. I didn’t get much support or encouragement from anyone. I’ve been working to pay my way since I dropped out of school at 15. I learnt personal growth off the random people I met through life and social media, and by listening to their stories and not being naïve. Not all of us get the benefit of close relatives and wealth.
If you ever feel disadvantaged, don’t feel like you’re not going to get somewhere because it’s more tiring, uninspiring and slow. You will. Just keep waking up and working at it. You’re responsible in the end for the opportunities you take and the effort you put in. Every little dollar saved will add up. Go out there and fight against your comfort and challenge your personality for what you really want. How bad do you want it?
Thank you for coming to my TEDtalk!
Are you a van-lifer or aspiring to be one?