Without a Vision, the People Perish: Overcoming Fear and Getting Rid of Your Stuff
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” ~ Henry David ThoreauFor nearly everybody who wants to live a fee and mobile life the single hardest thing we must do is getting rid of our stuff (there are exceptions to that, but not many). Vans (and even RVs) are so small that the majority of our possessions simply will not fit in them so we have no choice but to sell it, give it away, or throw it away. That can be extremely difficult and heart-wrenching! This is an email I got from a reader not too long ago, and I thought I would share it with you and my answer to him: Hi Bob, I’ve got all my gear now. I just bought a Eureka Copper Canyon 6 man tent and have most of the gear you and others have suggested. The problem that I’m having is what to do with all the stuff in this apartment. I know what you say about getting rid of it but my butt won’t move to get it done. I’ve lost everything three different times though the years (mainly from divorces) and just can’t get motivated to part with my stuff again. I find it interesting that you’ve been talking about fear lately because I know that’s what’s holding me back. I’m hoping to meet up with you in Quartzsite this coming winter. I know it’s what I want because it’s always on my mind. I live in Charleston WV. There are a lot of great camping sites near here. When I’m out camping is when I’m at peace. I love it!! Any encouragement from you would be great!! I’m so close but yet so far…lol…Thanks
To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~William James
In my answer I suggest a two pronged method to motivate yourself to do the difficult job of getting rid of your possessions: 1) Keep a Vision in your mind of what you are running away from. (Again, I know there are some exceptions out there. You are not running away from anything, you have had a wonderful life and this is just the next logical step. You are the lucky few.) It doesn’t really matter exactly what has driven you to the point of making such a drastic change in your life, but it is important that you identify it and hold it clearly in your mind. There are an infinite number of things that may have been the final straw to compel you to become a vandweller. Things like:
- Divorce or end of a Relationship
- Job Loss, Debt or other Economic Hardship
- Poor Health
- Monotony and Boredom with Life
- Stress and Worry
- Hating the Rat Race
- Emptiness or Purposelessness
2) Keep a firm vision in the front of your mind what you want your Dream Life to be like; what you are running towards. Things like:
- Economic Security
- Peace of Mind and Heart
- Physical, Emotional, Mental or Spiritual Healing
- Environmental Improvement of the Planet
- Adventure, Fun or Excitement
- Connection with Nature
- Learning and Culture
Without a Vision, the People Perish. Proverbs 29:18
This is my answer to the above email. I wrote it to him using the details he had given me, so the details may not apply to you. As you read it, substitute whatever it is you are running away from and what you are running toward: For many of us, getting rid of our stuff is the hardest thing we have to do. That includes me! I still have pack-rat tendencies in me and so my stuff automatically expands to fill all the room I have. We are all so different that there is no one right answer, but here is what I do when I get really bogged down and just can’t get rid of stuff that is holding me back. First, I encourage you to sit back in your favorite chair (maybe close your eyes) and think of some of your favorite camping trips. Relive them in your mind. Try to feel all over again the peace, joy and pleasure you got out of those times. Remember the smells of bacon cooking or the campfire, or the pine trees–whatever applies to you. Remember the company of the people you were with, the relaxed and jovial conversations. Remember the sounds of the birds and the streams and the winds in the trees. See the birds and beautiful sky through the forest canopy. Remember the SILENCE!
Of course the details of our memories will be very different, but whatever your dream life is, I think you will find a deep longing to experience that all over again. Now imagine a future where those sights, sounds and feeling occurred every day, not just for a few days or weeks, but for the rest of your life! What price would you be willing to pay to get that?
Now, start going through the whole house and hold every item in your left hand that is really hard for you to get rid of. Now imagine a life of freedom, peace and joy in your right hand and the thing in your left. Weigh them and measure them in your mind and ask yourself this:
“I can have a life of total freedom and joy, or I can have this thing. I CAN’T HAVE BOTH!! Which do I want?”
That works for me! Once I see things that simply, making a decision becomes very easy. Whatever this thing offers me is literally shit compared to the life I am aiming for. Get rid of it!
- Feed the Hope: Spend time every day and throughout the day imagining the wonderful life waiting for you. Hang pictures around the house of the beautiful places you want to go. Download pictures from my blog and other blogs of vans you love, people you want to meet, places you want to go. Whatever moves you and drives you, keep those images in the forefront of your mind and hopefully on the walls of your place.
- Starve the Fear: Fear keeps telling you that the risks are too high, so you have to convince yourself that finding a new life is worth any risk and any cost because the old one is so mediocre, mundane, or even terrible! Nothing can be worse than the life you are running away from! So when the fear pops up in your mind, reassure it that you have thought things through and everything is going to be all right. Then mentally force yourself to focus once more on the vision you have of your dream life. Every time you do that, you starve and weaken your fears.
One thing alcoholics do to stay sober is carry with them the feelings, sights and sounds of the final event that drove them to get sober. Nearly universally it is a moment so full of despair, hopelessness, pain and grief that is almost beyond comprehension and a human’s ability to bear it. It serves to become the driving motivation towards sobriety for the rest of their life. It becomes their most prized possession and the gateway into a new and wonderful life. I suggest you do the same.
Keep in the front of your mind all the things you hate about your present life: The boredom and tedium, the traffic, the money-worries, the soul-sucking job you hate, the continual stress. Whatever applies to you. Basically, you always want to remember the heaven you are running toward, and the hell you are running away from. Now that is motivating! I hope that helps! Bob