The Need to Be Useful

Where does an RV’er “belong”?  Is it where you were born, or where you lived your life?  Do you “belong” where you cast your vote,  or where your friends live?

The Metalworker's Gate

A workman’s wrought iron gate to his home, near Bonnieux France.

Increasingly, I feel as if I belong wherever our coach is.  For a long while I was seeking a place. But  Serendipity is our home, and wherever we are we are both happiest when we are nearby;  near enough to take a walk, near enough to take a nap, or find a change of clothes, or get a chilled beverage out of the Norcold (which seems to be doing it’s job at the moment).  We thought at one point that we might park Serendipity during our annual returns to Milwaukee and return by car.  We’ve given up that idea.  We’re just happier being ‘at home’ than staying in a hotel, or staying with family (no matter how much they try to make us feel at home).

I still get the ‘itch’ to move when we’ve been in a place long enough — as has been the case for the last week or so — and I’m sure I’ll continue feeling that way until we mosey South out of Milwaukee.  But it has really happened that where the coach is parked has ‘become’ home.

Part of that hitch itch relates to whether we have chores to do.  It certainly was the fact that while volunteering in Oregon we had little time to think about being tired of being there.  I expect that will be true next summer when we volunteer at Highland Ridge.  As camp hosts there will be chores, and a daily routine.

The thing about routines

Roofs in Avignon

Roofs in Avignon


Loaves on the baker’s table in a market near Antibes

But there is the fact that never in my life have I been keen on routines.  And here I am in retirement kind of liking routines.  It became obvious just a few months into RV’ing that we had already settled into some kind of routine.  I get up earlier than Peg, I spend some time writing and about the time Peggy is famished and ready to chew the box the oatmeal came in I get started cooking breakfast and our day begins in earnest.

We have friends who are renovating a house.  That sounds like fun, in a masochistic sort of way.  I like working on houses (even though there’s a lot about them that I don’t know) — but at this point in life I’m not keen on starting that kind of project, or having that kind of routine.

We have friends who volunteer for the local theater company and for a local hospital. Kathryn has volunteered for the local Hospice.  These are all wonderful gifts to the community; wonderful ways of being useful.

That impulse, the impulse to be useful, is something that I’m not good about sublimating.  For all I know,  that may be why I blog — the need to feel useful. We feed our urge by volunteering — but we’ve been over 1 year now since our last gig and it will be 6 more months before we start our next one.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land;
it is at last to set foot on one’s own country
as a foreign land.”
– G.K. Chesterton

 What part does RV’ing play in learning to see your own country as a ‘foreign land’?

In the long run, I’m curious to see how this ‘need’ plays out.  I know RV’ers (and RV bloggers) who struggle with the need to be useful.  Some of them cope effectively with the urge; and it has driven others off the road and back into sticks & bricks; they just can’t stay sufficiently connected to their community as a traveler.  We aren’t yet sure how travel will affect us.

I’m not a patient guy.  Sometimes in the still of night I think it would be nice to help teach youth to read — not a bad gig for a retiree, I agree;  but I know that’s not something you can easily accomplish as a transient (duh…) and to be perfectly frank I’m not sure I have the patience to do what I think would be a fun thing.

St. Eustache, Paris

St. Eustache, Paris

Long ago I thought I would be a good teacher (when I was in college) and have been ever thankful that I abandoned that goal once I realized how strong was the Siren’s call to wander.  I need to move the way other people need to breathe.  So for the time I’m content to find what satisfaction I can in our periodic volunteer activities — and perhaps by getting quite involved for short spurts we’ll both accomplish the same net feeling that local volunteers get by giving less time more regularly.  (Sneaky way of me trying to stay out of routines while still being IN a routine — don’t you  think?)

All of this came pouring out because a good friend of mine (from High School) just returned from a 2 week visit to Switzerland.  He came back with lots of insight into reasons why U.S. culture isn’t working.  Sometimes we need to step away from the familiar to see it for what it is.

I think that as travelers — as RV’ers — we get to do that quite often.  Each city, each state is just a little different, and every time we collide with the unfamiliar it makes us stop and consider.  Were things always this way?  What can we do to make them better?  Or Different?  Or do they need to stay as they are.  Or… does anyone care?

Whether we care we can manifest in a lot of ways.  Last winter at Palmdale the residents participated in a variety of fun ways giving to local charities.  Then there are the volunteer gigs that so many of us full time RV’ers engage in.  And of course there is the tried and true U.S. method of throwing money at good causes.  There are many ways to show you care.  Find one that works for you.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.



8 thoughts on “The Need to Be Useful

    1. Hi Joey! thanks for chiming in and welcome to our life unscripted.
      Isn’t it odd that after a life in a house that the months of being stuck in one place can become so tedious and the urge to go can grow so strong.

      I look forward to hearing from you in the future!


  1. You second paragraph runs parallel with our thoughts on that subject, Peter. We especially noticed it when traipsing around Grand Rapids last month and it not feeling like it was ours anymore. But the rig? Home sweet home, baby!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect that our feeling is similar to a lot of fulltimers. And it’s only right that we should feel that way. We invest a lot of effort and love into our homes — whether sticks & bricks or mobile.
      Those who are not full timers may have a harder time understanding, but really I don’ know why.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I give back through my participation in forums. But, what I always wanted to do was help Habitat for Humanity build houses. There’s an RV group that does that but I can no longer physically do that. I Wish I’d tried harder to do that when I could. It’s one of my few regrets.


    1. Linda — Habitat does a lot of good work and I was surprised to realize that they have all sorts of jobs that aren’t even building the actual house — a variety of support roles that are equally important. We have met at least one couple tho went from HFH job to job.

      > >


  3. The old saying ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ has a lot of truth to it. We’ve lived in three different states, but I still consider Pittsburgh my hometown. My family is scattered across the US. Your RV is your home and you touch a lot of lives–in person and through your blog. You’re learning a lot, but so are others learning from you. Follow your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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