Comparison is the thief of joy. - Theodore Roosevelt
Why am I so scared that I am not enough?
That my story, our story, isn't good enough? I don't believe that I should question it as often as I do, yet everyday, with an influx of opinions from social media, family, or friends, I wonder why we're all so damn judgmental of one another.
The traveling community is vast and so is the world itself. We all have different reasons for doing what we do, for some and for once us, homeownership is the right decision. There are renters, city dwellers, countrymen. For a smaller sector of the population, we long for travel, for an ever-changing backyard. Everyone has different ways of living.
Last Sunday, we had brunch with Ellen's parents, who've had a rough time understanding our desire to travel. Ellen's dad once traveled as a young man and settled himself in Kentucky in order to learn how to play the banjo. His romantic way of living and seeing life has more than once been an inspiration to me in the years that I have known him, in many ways, I think I'm very much like him. Sensitive, romantic, a writer, someone who sees beauty but struggles with life's injustices. I remember very distinctly the silence that followed our announcement to travel, a Sunday ritual of listening to bluegrass with Ellen's folks turned quiet, stony. It wasn't necessarily the reaction that we'd anticipated or hoped for. Yet this past weekend, over eggs and coffee, we spoke freely about our progress on the Airstream. Later, a card arrived with best wishes and monetary support for Louise, generous and beautiful and filled with acceptance. One year later, and they have watched us work tirelessly for this goal, this dream. The wash of peace over that relationship was nothing short of beautiful.
I have tried writing this post many times, and end it in anger every time. My words turn hard and sharp, my disgust for the judgement of others clouding my head and heart. It's tiring...to be told over and over again that you're not doing things right. We've been chastised for our reasons for traveling, ousted for having ideas, been the target of jealousy and vindictive behaviors, misrepresented and misunderstood, judged for our desire to live simply and ecologically minded, to live within our means and not go into debt for our renovation and travels, to not have propane and instead a wood stove (really). So with a heavy heart, having been unable to write for nearly two months now in this space, after working through the anger in my heart towards others who only know a mere snippet of our story through a string of images and barely descriptive or deciphering sentences on social media...I have come to a valuable and wonderful and freeing conclusion:
We are enough.
We aren't traveling for anyone but ourselves. We wouldn't still be working so hard toward our traveling dream after fourteen months if that wasn't the case. We wouldn't be spending our vacation working twelve-hour days in our Airstream, building our the-not-so-distant-anymore future home. I sure as hell wouldn't have worked in negative nineteen degree temperatures a few weeks ago if it didn't mean absolutely everything to me. I've never felt more devoted or passionate about anything I've ever attempted in my nearly thirty years of life. With that said, I want to say a few more things.
We decided to travel one year, two months, one day, nine hours, and thirty-one minutes ago. We knew that for us, it could satisfy our need for more in life. Our mutual quest for beauty and nature-filled existences could be best fulfilled by living on the road. Our creative selves were suffering and we hoped to find rest and commune with nature in ways that could spark our innate artists' hearts in the most beautiful and complete ways. We longed to be together for more than a few rushed hours in the evening, tired from long days at work and commutes, to strengthen our bond as a family and as a couple. We wanted simpler lives, although we knew that didn't translate to easy existences. We enjoy hard work. We want to test our adaptability and capability of survival, live with what we need, and extract ourselves from a life that never felt like the right life for us, a lifestyle that was never meant for us. To live debt free, within our means, and as off-grid and eco-minded as possible. Our reasons for traveling are vast, they come from a place of understanding ourselves in ways I don't believe many people are fully able to. We know what we want, and what works for us. However, what works for us, and our reasons for following our dream, have nothing to do with anyone else and their vision for the way they want to live.
We are enough. You are enough. We are all wonderfully, beautifully, inescapably different .
So let's all remember that. Seems simple enough. It hurts being told over and over again that you're doing your life wrong. Live together, support one another, build each other up, create community with meaning. This is our story...what's yours? I'd love to hear it.