In less than twenty-fours, after finally getting my van back, I have been… cheered for by street corners full of people (it was as if they knew how long I had been waiting to drive my own home), asked if I sell pot on more than one occasion, extended a marriage proposal, offered a a car-swap, rear-ended at the DMV, nearly T-boned by an old man who blew a stop sign, stalled out on a hill, watched “Cool Runnings” in the street, and fallen asleep to the sound of rain… all while managing to avoid the cops… until last night.
I was parked on top of Rocky Butte when a cop tapped on my window with a flashlight. “You guys smoking pot in here?” He asked. A hippie in a Volkswagen van, I get it, I must be smoking pot. I couldn’t help but laugh as I told him he was more than welcome to search the van. I now have a more accurate understanding of what it is like to be profiled.
I love the simple life… and the not-so simple things that come with it, like the stereotypes and the opinions of other people. It’s not that I love the stereotypes, I don’t, I don’t love that some people think I’m down-grading in life because I’m going to go “live in a van down by the river.” I love that I am learning to be so comfortable in my skin that even if someone makes a judgement call on me, it doesn’t have to wreck me, sending me into a wave of fear that has me driving back to my comfort zone… my comfort zone of being well-liked by everyone.
As I look back and think about some of the loneliest times of my life, they were the times that I was well-liked by everyone. They were lonely times because when everybody likes you, it means no one really knows you, and if no one really knows you, then no one can really love you for who you are… only who you show yourself to be. And when you don’t feel loved for who you really are, you end up feeling really, really alone… even in the largest of crowds of people who love you… or least the you they see.
At thirty-one, not everyone likes me, and not everyone loves what I am doing with my life… but finally, after years of pleasing people more so than God… I am uncomfortably okay with that. And I am okay with being uncomfortable about people not liking me, because it means while I care about people and what they have to say, I can’t let or make their opinions be my God.
I know living in a van is going to have it’s challenges, it already has and I’ve barely just begun, but it’s in those challenges that I am becoming more aware of my character and the importance of maintenance for the long haul. It’s not enough for me to put all the money I’ve received into the van and expect it to be good from here on out. I have to maintain it’s health… oil changes, tire rotations, check-ups to keep it running. I have to take care of this community-given gift by continuing to take care of it. And I have to do the same for myself. A one-time visit to treatment is helpful to the sick, I know, I’ve been there, but you… I… have to keep taking care of ourselves after walking out of those treatment doors, or that therapist’s office, or memorizing that Scripture. We have to go live out what we talked or read about it, and we have to do it more than once… we have to do it on the daily.
Even though I am incredibly excited about van life, I know this is just the beginning, and the excitement won’t last forever. The van won’t make it to California on one tank of gas, I have to keep filling it, and so it goes with me. I can’t expect the initial excitement of this journey to be enough fuel to keep me going for the rest of the journey. I have to keep getting filled by my Power Source and take care of the mind and body He’s given me, and take care of the me He’s given to the world. We’re all gifts to the world, most of us just don’t know it yet because it takes a lot of work to realize it, and even more so to live it out.
This van is helping me understand the importance of maintenance… the tiring but rewarding work it takes to maintain the abundance of that which you’ve been given… life.
It is also helping me understand the importance of curtains.
I love the simple life, but it can get complicated if you don’t have curtains… blogging is enough exposure for me.