For those unfamiliar, I spent the last month on the road, living in my car (save one glorious hotel night). It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I was incredibly lucky to be able to do it. But I’m back now, and there were more than a handful of lessons I took with me.
While I haven’t made any permanent changes quite yet, these lessons will strongly guide my decision-making process in both the immediate and distant future. Some of these were new thoughts, some were things that I had been feeling for a while, but didn’t have the experience to back them up.
Relationships are Everything
How we relate to the people around us is everything. This is top to bottom, everyone from your immediate family to the person you order your food from at a restaurant. We are all on this planet together and our fractured relationships are what will cause us to fall. So, when you love someone, tell them. When you’re upset with someone, tell them so you can work it out. Our lives are simultaneously infinite and short. Why waste any of it with people who don’t respect you or want to have you in their lives? Conversely…
Money is Nothing
This is definitely something I’ve been feeling for a while. We get so caught up working for more, more, more. And I’m not ignorant to basic cost of living. There’s a whole world of issues situated with the fact that there are people that have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I’m talking about the excess. We don’t need millions of dollars to live. Depending on where you live and your familial situation, we don’t even need hundreds of thousands of dollars to live.
I have completely detached from money as an important construct. I’m more concerned with how I’m spending my money going forward. Spending a lot of money on this trip, some of which I simply don’t have at the moment taught me that the experiences I gained were worth much more than my bank account.
I Don’t Need a lot of Space…But I Do Need My Own Space
Living in my car was in some ways easier and harder than I anticipated. It was fairly easy to sleep and stay asleep at night, and I never got into a scary situation at night doing so. That being said, having a toilet and shower at close hand is a luxury I hadn’t thought through. I think I could do it for a short amount of time, but having my own (albeit small) space is very necessary.
We spend so much of our time racing to get to meetings, events, and classes. Why? Because we’ve overloaded ourselves. We’ve been led into the trap of thinking we have to sprint to keep up when in reality we are all running a marathon. Marathons require patience, resilience, endurance and a strong will. And it’s not just about that, it’s about slowing down to smell the roses. Be in love with every day and conscious of where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going.
We Are All Tiny and Mighty, Unique and Common
There’s nothing to make you feel small like driving across the country and back in a month’s time. Except maybe standing amongst the Redwoods in California. Or standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We are all so insignificant on our own on this planet. Nothing any of us could do, on our own, could cause any real change. It’s in this way that we are all common.
And yet, when we are together, working toward a single goal, we are mighty. We can do any good or bad thing with millions or billions supporting us. But that is back to my point about relationships. It’s so crucial that we have even one person supporting us. We all have a unique story that needs to be told. No one other person has lived the same life that we have. Our struggles, triumphs, and choices shape our story. Having that backer can start a tidal wave of us living as our true selves.
Every Moment is a Brush Stroke
Painting is also something I spent a lot of time thinking about, in both the literal and figurative sense. It started in Utah, where I imagined the difficulty in expressing the beauty of the landscape through paint. Even photos weren’t doing it justice, how could paint? But through skill and practice, great painters can accurately convey those colors, shapes, and details in their work.
The same can be said about our lives. We are slowly working on a work of art if we choose to see it as such. Each moment, a small brush stroke. Some strokes are perfectly placed, and we won’t attempt to change them, because they are perfect. But some strokes are imperfect. A cramped hand causing an ill-advised pass over the canvas. But that’s the beauty of the painting. Not only can the mistake be revisited and done again, but even if it’s not, forgotten amongst the other perfect brush strokes, we move on.
No painting is perfect. It’s impossible to accomplish with a human hand. And that’s why we have to look at the big picture.
We don’t all get opportunities to experience ourselves on the level that I did in this last month. It’s something that I was very intentional about and took very seriously. It’s how seriously I want to make finding new experiences in my life. I’ll be speaking more about those goals and plans in the future, but for now, I hope these lessons can resonate with others.