Experimenting with Contentment


It’s good each of us RV’ers gets to live the way we choose. I sure as heck would not want to RV the way some people do, and I’m sure they would not want to do it my way.  There’s a reason I say:  “there’s no right way to RV.

be thankful for what you haveI don’t know about you, but I think that for us RV’ing is all about finding contentment where we are: about not building up resentments, not feeling pressured or burdened, not expecting too much from anyone or anything.

I think that for us the specter of getting work done on the RV when there’s work needing to be done, and when there’s a good service outlet available also factors into the equation.  Perhaps more than we might be think. I know that is part of the reason we settled here for 3 months, rather than 1 month and then moving on.

When I was in school I never thought I’d use the word sublimate as much as I do — but I admit that there are a lot of times while RV’ing that I choose to suppress one desire in favor of another.  I don’t have to have everything I want to be happy; and if there’s something I want more than other things, I’ll gladly sacrifice one of the lesser desires to get one of the greater desires.  And most importantly, I don’t feel as if I have lose out on the lesser desire.

3744Ramsey-STUDIO101870105
Our last home — 6500 sq ft of 1923 built school converted to space for photo studio and residence.

Most of my life I and of our married life we lived in places and had jobs from which I periodically needed to get away. Some were worse than others, but “vacation” was something I coveted and couldn’t wait for.  About the year 2000 (and completely unrelated to Y2K) we moved houses from a 50’s suburb to an older, smaller community on the outskirts of Milwaukee — into that big 6 classrroom schoolhouse that I have mentioned from time to time — and which was home for the last 7 years of our working life.

The difference between ‘the school’ and our previous homes was that I stopped feeling the need to get away.  We had found our little castle, a respite, a hideaway.  Well, let me backpedal a little say that it could be that we had finally learned how to live contentedly. I believe it was the latter.  There was nothing special about that house — other than it’s size.  But so long as we lived there I never felt that I  needed a vacation — I was happy there.

The drawback was, and should have been, obvious. Being as large as it was it suited my life as a photographer but it was not a ‘home’ we could maintain in advancing years.  We bought it to sell it.  However, living there opened the door to RV’ing.

What was special was our frame of mind while living there. Through a variety of experiences we managed to remove the people and the things from our lives that habitually got the best of us.  I worked at my own pace — harder than I had before but able to set my own schedule.  I didn’t have to work with or for idiots, or clock-punchers, or unimaginative bosses.  I found inspiration every morning and I could hear the sounds of laughing children (on the playground next door) for 9 months out of the year.  Life was good.

the most important decisionWe were living life without the influences that made vacations needful;  we found contentment right in our own back yard — or at least I had. Peggy was still working in the corporate world where she had been unable to do the same shucking off. Her need was tangible and events at work were ramping up to make them worse.  It was a good time to retire!

RV’ing became the opportunity for her.  Simplify relationships,  slow down, find time to think about what was important. Find time to LIVE what was important!

Places became less important.  What was important was living without hectic schedule, valuing the things that were important to us, without the drama that accompanied life in the work-a-day world.  Life took on more meaning than drama.  Being became more important than schedules.

012214_travelI think sometimes we forget what we left behind.  Not family mind you;  family has never been a problem. We’re fortunate to have people in our family whom we actually care about. But we still need our quiet, we are both individuals who don’t need lots of people around us most of the time.  Which, I guess, might be why we shy away from RV resorts most of the time.  Smaller parks are more our style.

I read other RV blogs and hear folks taking a vacation from RV’ing. And I scratch my head.  I’m glad for them. I really am. It’s good that people get to take a vacation if they choose — and to do what they want — and what they need to do.  I’m glad for them. That’s great!

I’m also glad I don’t have to live that life. I kind of don’t want to be living my life in a way that I feel like I need to get away from it. Specially now that I’m retired.  We both had my share of job-related stress, we don’t need that any more. We are finding a pace that works for us, that we’re both comfortable with.  We don’t have to put up with crazy people in our life.  We made it to retirement and we chose this life. Periodically we volunteer but we don’t have to, and we don’t stay longer than we choose — though we have been known to decide there’s something we want to accomplish and we might hang out there longer just to get that done.  After which we have been known to decompress longer before taking on anyone else’s yoke.

Just because RV’ing involves moving around from place to place I don’t want travel to interfere with contentment. 

Let me explain…

We aren’t rich, but we aren’t trapped.  At any given time we have limited reserve resoucres. If we were unhappy — a concept that rarely applies to us just because that’s the kind of people we are — we are always able to pick up our stuff and move on.  If we have prepaid a stay our budget is never so tight that we could not say “the heck with the money,  we don’t like this place, let’s move on.” For obvious reasons it’s not something you do on a whim.  No one likes throwing way money.  But if we were not happy we have that option.

If I was unhappy about the weather in Florida we could pick up stakes and move without blowing the bank account.  We stay here by choice — that’s the same reason we have stayed in other places.  We wanted to know what it’s like to BE here.  The only way to learn that is to …. BE HERE. While other people are RV’ing to find something or experience something, we’re doing it to be something:  just who we are.

The key to our transition from sticks & bricks to a mobile lifestyle is that now we are able to experiment with contentment.  

Sometimes we travel — other times we don’t.  We volunteer when we want to and we don’t volunteer when we’re tired of working or when we’ve had enough of other people’s schedules. The key to our transition from ‘sticks & bricks’ to a mobile lifestyle is that now we able to experiment with contentment.

We don’t have to make changes — but when the spirit moves us we are free to try something different.  Early in life I traveled because I was restless.  Then I traveled because I had to.  Finally we had found a home, a place I no longer needed to get away from but with retirement looming large on the horizon we didn’t want to stagnate in retirement.  Cutting loose from the metaphorical dock of life in Milwaukee became the easy way for us to see where life’s current would take us.

Our contentment has caused our daughter a little frustration.  She’d like us to know where we’re going to be several months ahead of time so she can make travel plans to come visit.  We like that.  We try to encourage that — within the limits of not committing ourselves to staying longer in places where we really don’t want to be.  She shares our sometimes restless blood.  Our mobile lifestyle gives her an excuse to travel to places she may never have been before and to return to some that she has been. The first couple years of our RV lifestyle she had a hard time understanding why we didn’t know where we were going next, or where we would be after the next four or five ‘nexts’ 🙂 We kept telling her we didn’t want to plan that far in advance. She has to function in a corporate environment, with a vacation schedule, and we’re trying to stay loosey-goosey. Eventually we came to an understanding about plans.

For us, for Peggy and myself,  we don’t want our RV life to become something we want or need to get away from.  I think if we ever get to the point that we need a vacation from RV’ing it will be time for us to get off the road.

What’s important for us is not to let our RV life get cluttered with the reasons people need vacations.  You hear a lot of talk about sustainability in ecology, in business, every where!  Why don’t people talk about a sustainable lifestyle?  Why do we let our selves get pushed into so many activities that we can’t breathe, or into so many purchases that we can’t get out from under the debt?  No one needs to live that way.  Unless of course you insist on having everything that your friends possess, and go everywhere your co-workers go, and eat at all the restos that the reviewers check out.  I just reject that world.  And it’s fallacies.

No, I’m glad we are RV’ing.  For us it isn’t a perpetual vacation.  For us we don’t need to take a vacation to get away from it either.  For us, RV’ing is how we live our life.  We aren’t tourists;  we just live in a lot of different places and from time to time we change.

Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow.

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6 Comments

  1. Beautiful posts…so much of it resonates with Rick and my philosophy of life. We don’t currently feel the need to experiment with contentment because right now, we like where we’re at…but who knows, some time in the future we may be at a different place. For now we are just enjoying the moment, and the next one, etc.

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    1. and the next one, and the next one, and the next one….

      I was reading a book last night by Anne Perry in which I found this phrase….

      “The small, healing details of life.”

      I may have to write a post about that phrase but there is such a world of meaning in those little details — and it’s true that the milieu of life’s little details does have a healing influence on humans — which accounts for why so many people are quite content with the rhythm of their lives.

      >

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      1. I don’t think there is any problem with a content rhythm so long as one is aware of the complexities that create that rhythm and are observant enough to see when it skips a beat. And depending on the skip, either correct or enhance it by making it part of a better rhythm.

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  2. I am just finishing my 2nd week of being ‘retired’ and what you said about the stress of the ‘working’ world is so true – I am currently packing up the house to prepare to rent it as I simultaneously do the last few things to the RV before I hit the road. I too have been pondering the family angle – how to plan enough to spend time with them – and at the same time remain free – because the whole idea of me embarking on this RV adventure is to be as free as possilbe – well spoken words – thanks for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tammy — thanks for piping in with your comment. I love hearing from readers!
      Always remember that you can make your RV life yours in every way — there is no ‘right’ way to RV. The only hangup is getting family and friends to accede to your new way of taking and that can take some time as they adjust to you and the changes you choose to make in your own life.
      Welcome to the world of RV’ing. Have a blast; experiment; have fun — however you define that — and don’t fall into the trap of doing what other RV’ers tell you THEY do. It may be right for them, it may not be right for you.
      If you’re ever where we are, let us know, we’d be glad to share a cuppa and a few stories.

      Like

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