There’s a quiet dignity, I think, in letting go of an old dream and allowing a new dream to take its place. Now I’m not directly referencing people that alter their life goals due to career choices or becoming a parent, but more so on a smaller scale. Those tiny dreams we sometimes disclose to close friends or share with a significant other.
I know this all sounds a bit vague, but I was listening to The Dirtbag Diaries podcast one day with Kevin and heard a snippet that stuck with me. The podcast featured a series called “The Shorts” and of course we decided to listen to the “Vanlife” episode.
The title is what drew us to the podcast in the first place, since we were (are) as new to the vanlife as any person could be. New to car repairs, new to the lack of bathing (and the smells that follow), and new to sharing such close quarters 24/7. So it made sense that we bought a ton of adventure-themed books and downloaded related podcasts.
Anyway, back to the podcast itself. The man telling his story was Chris Kalman, who regaled everyone with his experience living in three different vans during the vagabond period in his life. He later explained that slowly but surely he ended up planting roots, choosing a set career path, and settling down with someone. He explained that he felt guilty at times to the lifestyle he left behind, or envious at the people who live on an adventurous whim. But then he said how much he loves his new life and how when he feels like he should throw everything away to hit the open road, he remembers that some dreams need to leave to open space for new ones.
“The truth is, our dreams do not exist in a vacuum. They have context within a time and space in our lives.”
This quote feels inspiring and ominous at the same time. Part of me wishes I could comfortably plan my whole life out in a simple way, but the other part feels excited at the thought that there could be a whole new dream waiting for me at a new time or place in my life.
Back in 2012, I had just moved in with my boyfriend of less than a year (now my husband, Kevin). I was on a path to finish my Associates and enjoying goofing off with friends. Not even a year goes by and we get an opportunity to move to China for a year so Kevin could work in the circus. So from 2012-2013, I wrote my first book in a different country with my fairly new boyfriend while he explored a career path in music.
A few years later, I have my Associates and land my dream job. Kevin and I have job security, a new dog in our family, a decent house, and a comfortable routine. And now we’re happily married! We think about our future and see ourselves becoming parents soon. The timing feels right, so why not?
One year later, we decide to throw our lives into a storage unit and travel to Alaska for one summer. We can earn enough money to pay off some of our debt, plus get some traveling under our belt. Then we can officially settle down.
After spending a summer in one of the most beautiful places in the world, we decided to live there for a year and a half. And during that time we ended up converting an adventure van with big plans to travel around the US.
Add another month and we decided to expand our travels for roughly two years, thanks to unforeseen engine failure. And now we’re talking about adding Asia and Europe to our list of travels in the next couple years.
Our plans to settle down haven’t disappeared, but they’ve changed significantly over the years. We still want to buy a house, become parents, and live in a beautiful town. But now we don’t feel so confined to a specific plan… we’re giving ourselves some flexibility.
The thing is, our plans can change at any moment. It doesn’t dampen the old dreams or make the new ones any less fulfilling. What it does is create a tapestry of events that unfold when we least expect it. If I can give you any advice it’s this: enjoy life’s big changes and be flexible enough to see the new dreams when they’re presented to you. And if you have a farfetched dream (like living in a van around the country), take some steps to make it happen. You won’t regret following a dream, even if it ends and leads to another.
Chris Kalman’s story: http://dirtbagdiaries.com/the-shorts-vanlife/