Independence is a function of self-determination; it’s not a measure of quality — how well you are self-governed — it’s merely a statement that you are. The value of one’s self-government is up to the parties being governed.
This is not going to be a political statement. I’m going to confine myself to thoughts about independence and the RV lifestyle. Full time RV’ing is a great way to taste afresh what independence really means. Some folks had their first taste of independence when they moved out of their parents home to go away to university. Others experience it when they get their first job, or get married, or… well the variations are numerous. But it can come as a shock when one realizes all the things other people have been doing for you when first you have a home and bills of your own.
Most of us spend our career in a place (or several) where we are tied down by real estate and obligations. I hesitate to use the word “career” in this context, as that word has traditionally referred to an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress. (Technically the trades weren’t a career as once you are a journeyman advancement isn’t considered) But I can’t think of a word that’s commonly used to refer to one person’s entire work-life. Entering into retirement brings to an end that part of our life and for those who take another step and choose the full time RV lifestyle they may enter into a new time of independence unlike any time in their earlier lives.
Full timing give you the opportunity to choose when to move, how often, and where; you are faced with constant decisions about who, what, whey, when, where and how. You have to re-decided issues that many people decide once or twice in their lives and never face again; from shopping patterns to daily rhythms. Add in volunteering or visiting friends and suddenly your daily routine is up in the air. Change time zones often or rapidly enough and your circadian rhythms get all mixed up. I say that ours is a life unscripted, but it’s often a pseudonym for an independent life — in ways that the non-RV’er may not consider.
I have always thought the George Bernard Shaw had it right — that non of us is truly independent. We are each one of us dependent upon every other soul on this earth.
A friend of our once criticized our lifestyle based on energy consumption and greenhouse gases. I think both of those issues need to be viewed in terms of total contributions to both. Our Cummins diesel may be ‘dirtier’ than a gas vehicle, but a.) it’s a different kind of dirt and b.) we aren’t running it all the time. When I compare our travels to non-RV’ers who hop on a plane regularly, take roadtrips, etc. the numbers change significantly. Our ‘dirty’ diesel is dirty for a far shorter period of time when we go someplace and then stay there for several months on end. Also — we are heating and cooling a space much smaller than most folks living in Bricks & Sticks. Our net energy consumption is probably lower than most homes — perhaps with the exception of extremely high efficiency units. My point being that bottom line I doubt our contributions to greenhouse gases and pollutants is any larger, if not being smaller than the average U.S. home.
We aren’t independent energy wise, but between wise planning, and our rooftop solar we use a lot less energy than most folks would suspect.
The idea of independence is an interesting one. We can play numbers and try to be as efficient and green as possible, but the reality of life in the 21st Century is that we all have to work together to help this planet be the verdant home that we and our forebears have enjoyed for millennia. Whether we’ll turn the globe over to the next generation in better condition than we found it is questionable. I just hope we haven’t damaged it too much.
Happy Independence Day. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, the idea of self-government is something precious. Let’s use what we have well, and use the planet in such a way that we can be proud of what we pass on to our children.
See you tomorrow. I’ll be here. Will you?