Psychic Clutter

Last night I had a dream about my house.  Its various rooms came straight out of all the different houses I have lived in over the years, going back to our house in New York, which is the first one I remember very well.

The house was terribly cluttered, items spilling from closets with doors that could not even close.  I recognized the biggest closet as one that used to be in my parents’ bedroom.  This closet has shown up in many of my dreams.  It was a mysterious, slightly scary place, where Mom hid our Christmas presents until they magically appeared under the tree.

Most of the clutter in this house belonged to my two husbands.  Isn’t it funny that they both lived in the same house with me!  The house had finally been sold after being on the market for a long time.  I had known it had been sold and had been busy cleaning up my own stuff, but my husbands had procrastinated.

It was moving day.  The new people were due to take over the house in the afternoon.  And it was still full of my husbands’ clutter.  So, while they were both away, I went through everything, room by room, closet by closet, box by box, and cleaned it up.  By “cleaned it up,” I mean I unceremoniously tossed most things into the trash.

I woke up before completing the job and quickly gave myself a retrospective break, deciding that the next thing I would have done, had I still been dreaming, was hire a deep-cleaning crew to finish the job and make everything sparkly clean.  So I did that real quick in my head.  How good of me.

This dream struck a deep chord.  I spent the first week of October at a campground where I was surrounded by silence.  No clutter in the airwaves–no TV, internet, computer, or phone.  Heck, for the first few days, I was the only one in my rather remote section of the campground.  It was quite a challenge and I will admit that I did not like it at all at first.  I missed the clutter!

By mid-week, however, I was going strong, writing the first story I have been able to get excited about in over a year.  It was basically complete by week’s end.  Now settled into my next campground and workamping job, I have been fine-tuning the story with edits, formatting, and design, preparing to release it soon as my third ebook on Amazon.

There was an even greater significance to my dream, though.  Surrounded by the peace and quiet of that week, I was able to get in touch with the role that certain life-shaping events have played in my own life story.  And I recognized after the dream that the piece I wrote, although not technically autobiographical, turned out to be a really good exercise in psychic decluttering.

Thankfully, I have managed to remain fairly unplugged, even though I can get 50 channels via my TV antenna now and the internet comes in strong.  I have greatly cut back on the amount of news I watch and spend far less time on the computer (unless I am working on the story or something else productive).  It feels wonderful!

I will post here once the story is published.  It will be the second book in the Campground Chronicles series (the first being Billy:  A Campground Chronicles Short Story).  It was initially inspired by my son’s recent suggestion that I write something about my childhood.  That is not something I can easily do, so I took a sideways approach instead.  I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, and I hope a good measure of that pleasure will be shared through the page.

Silence

Cue slow exhale.

It is amazing.  I am encountering moments when I don’t even want to turn on the TV.  Oh my, you must be thinking…  What kind of a camper are you, always inside with the TV on?  Well, yes, I suppose it’s true confessions time.  Heck, over two years on the road and I only sat around my first campfire a few weeks ago when some friends had me over to enjoy theirs.  I don’t typically sit outside.  I sit inside, usually at my computer, with the TV on for background noise almost constantly.

Until recently.

It is as if the decluttering and downsizing phase begun back when I sold my house and was preparing an abrupt shift into full-time RV life is catching up to me on the road.  This tenacious little phase had to travel over 26,000 miles to reach me.  I am grateful it made the effort.

It caught me.  Bringing along quiet.  And peace.  Simplicity.  And beauty.

Nothing but the fan blowing, the dog snoring, an occasional stinkbug awkwardly buzzing as it attempts to escape through the ceiling vent fan (they are not very smart).  Outside, a chorus of crickets performs their hit single, Background Music by Your Favorite Bug.  An occasional murmur or bubble of laughter escapes a fellow camper and zings into the night, only to dissipate under the watchful eye of the waning moon.

And diminishing TV.  For a few weeks now, I have grown less and less interested in what is on the boob tube.  The need for its constant company is melting, its voice fading, as I manage to slowly detach.

I hope it sticks.  I hope that, after nearly six decades on this beautiful earth, I am finally maturing to the point that the clutter of noise is not a necessity.  That I can be content enough with my own company and thoughts so that I don’t have to invite TV strangers in to fill space.

I still watch things that I actually want to see, like The Dog Whisperer (hubba-hubba Cesar!), a few comedy shows, and a good movie once in a while.  And, alas, I am remain stuck on TV news.  Poor, pathetic me.  I am addicted to wanting to know what is going on in the world or at least what is going on according to the talking heads on the TV screen.  Although, when I get an ugly earful, especially this particular season of this particular year, I want to plug my ears with my fingers and sing with those crickets… wheeep-wheeep wheeep-wheeep…  Better yet, turn it off.  And let the crickets in.

Quiet, peace, simplicity, and beauty.  Silence.

Honestly, I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing.  Let’s agree not to judge one way or another.  Just accept.  It was what it was and it is what it is.  Ooooo, how Zen!  Wheeep.

Youngsters on Wheels

I have a beautiful new friend.  She calls me her “Bestie” and “BFF.”  She is young enough to be my daughter, so to have her put me into the category of friend like that simply makes my heart giggle.

Laura, her husband, Adam, and their young daughter, Daisy, joined the ranks of full-time RV’ers a year and a half ago.  Unlike so many of us out here, they are far from retirement age.  They home school Daisy and must actively earn a living while on the road.

Laura agreed to share some of their story for this blog posting.  I’ve changed names and minor details for the sake of her family’s privacy.

Before taking such a drastic step, they were living what many would identify as the American dream.  To afford this dream, Adam worked two full-time jobs.  In addition to home schooling Daisy, Laura worked full-time at a small business they ran and cleaned houses on the side.  Two people, four jobs…  all to pay for a beautiful house they could barely enjoy and vehicles to drive them back and forth from this house that was filled with all the trappings.  (There is a reason they are called “trappings,” you know.)

Exhausted, distracted, frazzled… stress was their daily measure.  Even though she home schooled Daisy and they were together nearly constantly, Laura was so worn out she couldn’t truly invest in her daughter.  Not thoroughly, not deeply.  It broke Laura’s heart that she was not able to be totally there for her.

Or for her husband.

Laura and Adam had met at a dance bar when they were just 18 and 19.  Laura saw Adam dancing.  She told her friend, “I’m going to marry that man.”

When Adam approached the two young ladies, he made a bee line for Laura and asked her to dance.  They’ve been together ever since.  Laura later asked him why he came to her and not her friend, who was the type who usually attracted male attention.  “Because you were real,” Adam replied.

Each of them had recently suffered deep heartbreak, however, so they decided to take things slowly and to date other people, even though each knew in their heart of hearts that the other was “the one.”

A year or so into the relationship, they were in a bad accident.  Taken to different hospitals, Laura freaked out.  Was Adam all right?  What if he wasn’t?  She hadn’t even told him she loved him, and oh, how she did love him!  She made contact with him through friends of her Mom’s, who worked at the hospital.  Yes, he was quite a mess, but he was alive.  And he loved her, too.

“It’s about time,” Adam responded to the third-party message.  He knew Laura was the one from the start and had waited patiently for her to get to the same page.

Now, over 20 years into their marriage, they were at another turning point.  Exhausted from the rat race, Laura and Adam sat down at the dining room table one evening for a serious talk about their future.  Adam’s father had recently passed away.  He had all these wonderful plans to travel after his retirement and hadn’t been able to enjoy them.  After his father’s funeral, Adam realized that he wanted Daisy to know him well enough so that when his own end time came, she would be able to stand and say what a wonderful man he had been, not just listen to accolades from friends and coworkers who knew her father better than she.

Realizing that they were not guaranteed anything, let alone tomorrow, Laura and Adam decided to get a grip on their lifestyle.  Take back control.  Reorder their priorities.  The first step would be to drastically downsize and simplify.

After briefly considering the tiny house trend, they were increasingly drawn to the idea of a tiny house combined with mobility.  They had a small towed trailer they had used for vacations the past two summers.  If they went bigger, they could have enough room for all three of them to be comfortable and even have a workshop in it for Adam.

The romantic appeal of a nomadic, gypsy lifestyle totally captured Laura’s heart.

Before making the final decision, the little family took a two week test run in their camper from the Smoky Mountains to the Atlantic coast.  It rained every single day.  And they had the best time ever.  They played in the rain, walked in the rain, listened to the rain on their tiny roof.  They loved each other in the rain.  They found hope in the rain.

Laura realized she had fallen head over heels in love with her husband again.  She saw the man she originally fell in love with emerge from the confining shell that society uses to package its participants.  When they returned home, she couldn’t wait to sell their stuff and hit the road.

That was September.  By December, their house was sold and by March, they were living full-time in their fifth-wheel trailer.  They had spent the winter between a rental apartment and their RV, downsizing and figuring out what was and what was not needed.

Adam makes a living for the family doing an assortment of jobs, including his crafting business which he operates out of the workshop in the back of the rig.  Laura is proud and delighted to contribute by doing workamping jobs that earn them free site rentals.  They are independent, entrepreneurial, and smart–good traits under any circumstance, but especially valuable when on the road.

I asked each of them what their favorite thing was about living full-time on wheels.

For Daisy, it is all the friends she is able to make now.  Indeed, Daisy is the social butterfly of the campground, flying around on her bicycle or her scooter, an assortment of other children peddling in her wake.  The best thing is, not only is she a natural leader, she is a kind, good-hearted friend.

For Adam, it is accompanying his daughter as she spreads her wings.  Rather than turning around one day in surprise to find that Daisy is four inches taller, her growth is now imperceptible simply because he is there for every moment of it.  Imperceptible and huge, all at once.  It’s a good thing to take time when witnessing a miracle.

As for Laura, she is thrilled to follow the love of her life to the ends of the earth once again.

You see, Laura lives a very spiritual life.  A life of faith.  She prayed before going into this.  She prays before they make any kind of big decision. She prays prayers of gratitude.  For her husband, for their daughter, and for each day.  Before their change in lifestyle, Adam had left the little church they had long belonged to.  This caused a deep conflict in Laura’s heart.  Once they set out on their adventure, though, she realized her husband may have left the church, but he did not leave God.  Indeed, she sees him now as a better man than ever before.  Where she had been blaming him for so much of the negativity that she had been feeling, she can see now that much of that negativity came from pressure and judgment put on by the outside world.

We are never totally free from judgment, which is often shrill and, more often, takes on subtle disguise.  Indeed, being human, we each carry our own judgmental tendencies with us wherever we go.  There were at least a couple of family members who were very resentful of Laura and Adam’s choice, but that didn’t sway them from taking the path that they felt was right for them.  One family member has come around since then, and has admitted that her reaction came from a place of selfishness, and that when she looked at the situation after some time and with clearer eyes, she was able to understand and accept.

Maybe some day Laura and Adam will buy a small house and settle down in one place for a spell, but they hope never to get drawn back into the same trap as before.  Meanwhile, they continue to live their dream on wheels, all wrapped up in one another.

(Photo at top of post is complements of Daisy’s Legos and her toy truck and fifth-wheel trailer.  For those unfamiliar with different RV styles, a fifth-wheel is a towed trailer which, instead of mounting on a hitch on the back bumper of a truck, mounts in the truck bed over the rear axle.  Fifth wheels have more head room inside, more storage, and more versatile floor plans than most travel trailers.  Laura and Adam’s bedroom and bathroom is upstairs in the part over the truck bed.  Daisy’s room is a loft over her dad’s workshop in the rear of the trailer.  They even have room for a washer/dryer and a growing puppy, critical items acquired since hitting the road.  The cat, well, the cat came along for the ride.  And yes, like most cats, he is quite critical.)