In a recent newsletter I received from The Off-Grid Skoolie, these questions were posed: Do you see any similarities between the modern-day nomads and the hero’s journey? What are your thoughts on the Refusal Of The Call? Having faith in the hero’s journey to move into an RV was a fascinating perspective that I instantly wanted to write about. In The Hero’s Journey, we see “normal life”, “the call to adventure”, “the refusal of the call” and ultimately, the often begrudging acceptance.
When downsizing to an RV, van, skoolie, etc.. you began a journey that transforms you in unexpected ways, most especially highlighted when traveling full-time. This adventure is the catalyst that transforms the hero into the person they were meant to become and yet, they seem completely unaware of the transformation until retrospect comes into play. With 7+ years of minimalism under my belt, and over 30-days living full-time stationery in an RV, although I never thought of it as a Hero’s Journey, I can most assuredly see the parallels.
There’s a difference between talking about doing something and actually doing the thing. Talking is easy. Doing takes courage.
Since full-time RV living is so fresh for me, I feel I can answer these questions easily. Yes, it’s very parallel to the hero’s journey and I love that comparing the two shows a level of bravery to do something that doesn’t fit “the norm” of society. I hadn’t thought of it in that way, so thank you for changing the lens through which I view my world.
Comparison Is The Theif Of All Joy
I often wonder if we should downsize more, although even if I were alone, I don’t want a van, or a short bus, etc… This is a crazy journey with so many different variations of what it means to be a “minimalist” and (like with most things) it’s easy to play the comparison game when in reality — who cares what anyone else is doing? Deep down I’ve known what I wanted for years, knew with the RV we bought we weren’t getting everything we wanted, and know exactly how I would change things if I could do it again or change things in the future. Regardless of your journey, I think it means being true to the lifestyle you choose AND to who you are, knowing there is compromise, change of direction, and opportunities that will present themselves and shift your decisions.
You do you.
Normal Life To Receiving The Call
The call came FAST for me after we started minimalism. The draw was huge although we knew we’d have to go slow and wait. We have 18 kids together and blending families is HARD. With 12 at home just a few years ago, and ex-spouses involved, there was no way we wanted to move into an RV and add to an already challenging situation (a situation that was also awesome and worth it). We DID rent and downsize every couple of years and set boundaries and parameters with our kids when they became adults (take your furniture and belongings or we’d donate it all).
In that process, we looked at RVs in-person and online, followed people who were living the lifestyle we dreamed of, continued to downsize, and create a map of what our journey and the tiny living vessel would look like. We spent a few days at a tiny home in California and scoured information on different possibilities. We ruled things out (Class A, vehicle requiring a special license, tiny house, loft bedroom), and embraced others (Class C, trailers, and 5th wheels).
I realized in my personal journey, as someone who has moved often and owned a home only a handful of times, OWNING MY OWN HOME that I didn’t have to sell or move out of was something that became more than a desire and almost a value. The thought of having everything I love in one place and bringing it with me was a literal dream come true. The ability to move within the US and beyond and always stay “home” spoke to who I am as a self-proclaimed gypsy wannabe.
The Refusal (Or Dismissal) Of The Call
As for the refusal or dismissal of the call, it’s so easy to find excuses and justifications in any direction and moving to something this small (our last house was 1050 sq ft and the RV is about 250), giving up “normal” life and security can feel terrifying — daunting at the very least. Being excited and having the desire and a plan is only one side of the equation. Fear, outside judgment, and feeling ill-equipped or overwhelmed are the flip side as well as wondering if you’re cutting yourself off from family and friends and isolating yourself.
The Baader Meinhof phenomenon is a cognitive bias in which people tend to see a particular thing everywhere after noticing it for the first time and with that, once you’re IN the RV community, even from a distance, it seems normal. Then you mention it to friends and family and realize people are looking at you funny.
I lived in Alaska for a decade, and I remember this when coming to visit the lower 48 and talking about buying a house without plumbing or electricity. You feel great and convicted and you’re engrossed in that particular community of people and it all seems normal — right up until you go to DO it or talk to people about it. Then you begin to wonder what they are expressing to you — are you crazy?
This is where many people talk and don’t take action. The point where the rubber meets the road and you stay inactive or embrace the difficulty of moving forward. You must be convicted, and decide to move forward towards your dreams despite all the noise.
That takes courage.
Deciding To Do The Thing Despite Fear — Accepting The Call
We went through moments of being terrified, of worrying we’d be in each other’s way, hate the space, or not be able to cook, shower, or poop like a normal person, etc… Every possible justification NOT to do this came up within us, we felt our own resistance and feelings of trepidation, as well as things people said against it. These were all part of Accepting The Call.
We could have leaned into the fear or leaned into the excitement of possibility and we CHOSE to lean into the positive and face all the newness head-on. What happened? It was easier than we thought it would be and we love it more than we expected. I can see though, how if you gave into society, or the presumed comforts of home, or the trepidation, worry, and “what ifs” — you’d never do it.
I hope giving into fear isn’t your story.
Doing The Thing In All Its Imperfectness
Even knowing what we wanted, we chose a vehicle that wasn’t our first choice — because it was available. We chose to hire a renovation company to do a lot of the heavy lifting to save time, we decided that our son’s backyard would work well for us, and we compromised on the floorplan, esthetic, and the list goes on. We embraced the learning curve knowing we can change our minds in the future — but decided to continue to move forward in what seemed like the best ways at the moment.
We are full-time stationery due to my husband’s sticks and bricks job and live in our son’s backyard, which feels easier than traveling full-time. Once we made the decision to do the thing, we were on a countdown and didn’t care what other people thought, we were ecstatic to move, we loved our RV renovation, and decided to rent a storage unit to keep what we can’t bring to the RV — and to help us decide what we would use or not.
We set up our transition so that it felt easier.
Have you ever experienced someone saying, “I wish I could do that” — as if they can’t? The fear of not doing the thing has to be greater than the fear of doing it. The fear of NOT living your life the way you want, of missing out on the adventure, of putting yourself out there, of embracing your life needs to be more than sitting idle wishing.
Get out there and do the thing!