Detailed planning for the future is a definite throwback from the years of our lives preceding our motorhome adventure. We had a 2 year, 5 year and even a 10 year plan. Knowing not only what we would be doing in the years to come but also having a sense of what we were working towards was one of the comforts we needed to help us continue on when life just felt too busy, stressful and exhausting. At least we knew it was all for something, the promise of future happiness. Yet when, at the start of 2014, I became seriously ill we finally recognised that the 'promise of future happiness' was too uncertain for us to continue giving up our happiness in the moment....so we made a change!
Taking to the road in Homer and the many varied adventures we've enjoyed, the people we've met and the many different ways of life we've experienced has been amazing. Amazing to the point that looking back now I even feel grateful that I became unwell when I did because if I hadn't we may never had made a change at all.
But the fact I woke up pondering whether we could find a better balance in our motorhome adventure revealed a couple of interesting insights about traits that had not been left behind - namely planning and labelling.
Of course, planning is always necessary to some degree. We've often joked that we don't decide where we will be going until we start the engine and that has been true on many occasions. We might have a vague idea of the options, perhaps two or three preferred places to choose from, but we often don't make a 'final' decision until we start moving. However, that doesn't mean that our indecision doesn't also frustrate us sometimes as well and make us question if having a more detailed route plan and list of things we want to do would be easier? Although we have always outwardly talked about how great the freedom of the road is (and it really is) there was always still a part of us that worried if we were really 'optimising' our adventure by not having a fixed structure or itinerary. Could we be even happier if we were planning in advance? Would we get so 'see' or 'do' more? Were we missing out by 'drifting'? Although in hindsight the days we have spent 'doing' very little have had a significant purpose on our journey, at the time we have sometimes caught ourselves in frustration that if we'd had a more detailed plan to stick to then we could be happier.
The second trait, labelling, arose whenever we tried to fit our way of life into a discrete 'bracket' in the way we might have done in the past. We've met people who never stay on campsites and others who only stay on campsites. We've met people who drive every day, covering tens of thousands of miles in a year, while others remain static for months at a time. We've seen the massive variation in motorhomes on the road, from transit vans with mattresses in the back to truck sized behemoths, and although we know that it is precisely the adaptability and variety of possibilities that make motorhome life so accessible, we would still sometimes catch ourselves discussing where we fitted in, making comparisons and justifying the way we did things. Similar to our planning worries, questions like "do we not travel enough?" or "did we pick the wrong motorhome in haste...is it too small....is it too big?" What I was also doing this morning when I started wondering if we couldn't adjust the balance of our adventure was, in part, asking myself what type of travellers are we?
But this morning, when I caught myself starting to 'plan' and 'label' and we started to chat about the year ahead something felt different. The planning and labelling, once seen for what it was, just felt so unnecessary. Just a few days ago we were blissfully happy in a remote, sandy car park, burning candles for light as our battery was so flat and showering using the cold beach showers to save gas. This morning we are equally happy in a 2 bedroom apartment with a roof terrace, hot water on tap all day long and even it's own washing machine. It's not just the contrast between these two situations either, occurring so close together as they did, but reflecting on the entire adventure we have no regrets even if we had allowed ourselves to let doubts arise at the time.
For example, when we stayed on the farm for 8 weeks in high summer we sometimes questioned if we were missing out, specifically on hikes and bikes while the weather was so good. Likewise while visiting Holland in November, even though we knew it was the right place to be with family at the time, doubts about if we were missing out on 'travel time' still arose. In the past we've let these doubts really bother us and sap our energy, often spending more time on having them and discussing those worries than enjoying the moment right in front of us.
So, noticing that I was once again raising the question of whether we could have a 'better' balance in our adventure this morning, has actually helped us to crystallise out and explain 2 insights that have been hovering just below the surface for some time.
One insight is that it is entirely natural that doubts and questions arise. It's sometimes a really good thing because they can help us to see opportunities and make changes when they are needed. But at other times we can get lost in them and forget to enjoy what's actually happening in our lives at the time. So there is no point either trying to stop having doubts, getting annoyed that we are having them or telling ourselves we'll stop having them if we find the right 'balance'. Instead, we are finding that it is more important that we start recognising these thoughts as passing through and that we don't have to 'pick them up and play with them'. We are now becoming grateful that we can recognise them for what they are and that they don't have to influence us all the time.
The second insight is linked in the sense that if we can be accepting of a situation and tell the difference between when we are creating our own unnecessary confusion and frustration by losing ourselves in these doubts, compared to when there is a real need for change, then there is really no need to worry about our 'balance' or whether it could be 'optimised better'. We've noticed that although we've experience many ways of being this year (touring, farm life, family time, wild camping, apartment living etc.) each has been right for us at that point in time and there have been clear signposts indicating when it was time to change. We can truly say this morning that there are no regrets for any part of our adventure.
Nothing is really better or worse at all, just different but yet the same as well.
A quote we've come across recently which has moved us is:
"“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” - Marcus Aurelius
During our first year on the road, although we had many new experiences, our way of life was fairly constant. Essentially we spent a large chunk of the year in our own variety of 'touring mode', moving every few days with lots of cycling and hiking exploits, before finally staying put in winter because, frankly, we were tired. This year has been far more varied. We've still had periods of 'touring', but we've also spent time just living on a campsite as well - not staying on a campsite to reset and wash clothes etc, but really living on one and not doing too much. We've worked on a farm and really immersed ourselves in a local community and we've also spent far more time staying close to family. We've wild-camped by the beach in Spain and now we're enjoying our own front door and roof terrace for a few weeks. Obviously there's nothing better or worse about any of these options, they're just different and the transitions between them have been so natural as well. There just comes a time, for us, when change arises to move us forward.