Originally published July 22, 2012

TODAY I GOT AN EMAIL from a person I met at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite. She desperately wants to break out of her old life and start a new life as a vandweller. But she keeps having these complications. Like so many of us she has a house that is upside-down and she can’t make the payments. That was actually simplifying things for her since she had stopped making payments. But that’s changed since the bank offered to cut her payments in half, now she is in the throes of indecision again. She wrote me mainly to vent but to some degree also to ask for advice.

Of course I don’t have any magical advice that will suddenly make everything clear. But I did write her back and told her the most important thing she could have was a vision for her life, a dream that moved and motivated her.

Then I went on my forum and there were several people who were also asking for advice about how and when to become vandwellers. All these things combined to remind me how hard it is to cast aside the only way of life you have ever known, and suddenly start a new life that is completely unknown to you. I can’t tell you how much I admire and respect every person who has the courage to do that! It was easy for me, a divorce left me so broke I had no choice but move into a van, I honestly don’t know if I would have been brave enough to do it if I hadn’t been forced into it.

In this post I want to emphasize the importance of having a vision for your life. You need to know what it is that will make you happy. For many people, the American Dream of a house with a white picket fence and a garden in the backyard really is their dream. But since you are reading my blog, deep down in your heart you know that the American Dream isn’t your dream. Maybe part of you likes it, but some other part of you feels like it is a prison you need to break out of. Here’s the problem: society has been pounding the American Dream into your head every day of your life so there is no way for you to know if it is you that really likes it, or your training.

Here’s the bottom line, are you happy? If you can’t answer with certainty that “Yes, I am happy!” then you probably aren’t. Do you love getting out of bed in the morning? Do you smile often? If not, why not? Isn’t that what happy people do?

I have come to believe that there are very few happy people. There are many people whose life is acceptable, at least they don’t hate it, but very few who love their lives. On the other hand, nearly every vandweller I know loves his life! There are parts of it they don’t like, but the life itself they love.

I think the reason you are reading my blog is because you recognize that deep down you aren’t happy and you see something special in the vandwellers you read about on the internet. We have something you want, but you aren’t sure you want to pay the price for it. And there is a price, in many ways a vandwellers life is less comfortable than a house dweller. Think about how great our lives must be that even though they are much less comfortable, we are still tremendously more happy than we were when we lived in a house! I am living my dream life, are you? My hope for you is that you gain a vision for your life that makes you happy.

Once you have a vision you need to do whatever it takes to make it happen. You will still have a lot of decisions to make, but now you will have a guiding light to make them by. Every time you have to make a decision you can examine it in light of the vision. Ask yourself, “What decision here will bring me closer to my vision?” If something moves you closer to the vision, its right, if it moves you away from the vision, it’s wrong.