Living in a van has its challenges. It can be a bit cramped to move around in a van and the lack of running water is frustrating. It can be a bit unsettling sleeping in a van at night on an urban street.
There is a lot that is NOT perfect about living in a van.
But, once you have to deal with it for a few weeks, something changes. I started to watch the uncomfortable feelings as they arose. Because they arose A LOT. I watched my own fears, my grumpiness, my bitchiness and my homesickness.
And by noticing these moods arising, I got to have a little separation from them. I didn’t totally have to give into the mood every time.
Mostly I didn’t give in because what is worse than feeling bitchy in a van? Well, when your bitchiness starts pissing off your sweet helpful partner.
Cause then there are TWO miserable people in a cramped, lost van. Not fun indeed.
Yes, let me tell you about the time we got lost driving in the van. In a crappy neighbourhood. At night.
We were driving for a long time and still hadn’t found a way out of this scary neighbourhood (It was my fault…why the hell did I suggest this awful route??)
I was so tired. And a bit freaked out. All the exits to the highway were closed! How is that possible? I watched myself grimace…My voice was getting whinier and more high-pitched from frustration.
Then I felt something shift in the moment as I watched my cute man drive around, his hands on the wheel, smoothly steering our big van, watching him search for a highway sign that could lead us out of this rough part of Los Angeles.
The irritation gave way and changed into ‘not everything is perfect right now, but things are still really quite interesting and my man is cute and a great driver. And hey, I feel really, really alive right now. I am really paying attention to everything. I am noticing all the details in this here moment.’
Because of the stress, I slipped into living in the moment. I watched how the imperfection suddenly gave way to a hidden beauty. Life still has shots of greatness, even when you feel like shit. A little shot of grace helped me see past the shit.
Of course, sometimes life hands you a tidal wave of crappiness and there is no way to get into any objectiveness about that when it hits.
But when you can take a pause, watch the discomfort, you may access something else.
As we traveled, the gratitude I felt about the simplest things became a lifeboat I clung to. We did find a way out of that neighbourhood at last. When we settled into our sleeping bag in a quieter part of the city, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for a good partner and a tin van roof over our heads. And I promptly fell asleep.
Just to be clear, the unpleasant things about living in a van sometimes makes me question whether I want to do it again.
But I love feeling alive and living in the moment. And the gratitude I developed around the simplest of things has changed my life now that we’ve returned home.
The irony is that it is easiest to access that feeling BECAUSE of a crappy mood or event. Or at least, it’s easiest for Princess Hobo.
There is perfection in the imperfection. The Princess has seen it.