What Is the American Dream?
Becoming a digital nomad, living life on the road has been an eye-opening experience. I have learned how little is necessary to be happy and that less truly is more, I find that I am no longer overwhelmed with consumerism simply because I have unplugged myself from television and radio.
I am not constantly bombarded with advertisers telling me what I need to be happy and how to keep up with the Joneses.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” – Paulo Coelho
Our camping spot in Moab was like our own little cul-de-sac where the neighbors got together each night to sit around the campfire. This is one of the things I love most about RVing; we find ourselves getting to know people we might not otherwise talk to.
People come from all walks of life and the common factor among them is a desire to escape society’s preplanned life map: college, job, homeownership, marriage, 2.5 kids, picket fence, minivan etc.
Through these conversations, I have learned that the American Dream is changing.
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
The baby boomers have reached retirement and are looking to downsize and live life freely on the road. Generations X and Y are finding that the preplanned map has left them wanting more. They are questioning if life can be lived, actually lived, another way.
Enter the movement of digital nomads. These people have found that a house full of materials possessions does not fulfill them. They have turned to minimalism and home with wheels.
“Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
What I have found most interesting about meeting other nomads is the stories they tell. Organic conversations struck up with new neighbors aren’t about television shows or pop culture. They are about places they’ve been, experiences they’ve had, and situations that you just can’t believe. These stories come from off the beaten path. We all have visited National Parks, but in these conversations, we truly learn about the hidden gems of this country.
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” -Margaret Fuller
The intentionally nomadic community is a vast wealth of knowledge. Most people have done extensive maintenance and upgrading of their rig and are more than willing to share what they learned on their project and offer a helping hand on yours. Anybody who has lived in an RV for any portion of time will tell you that there’s always something to be fixed.
“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.” -Aristotle
Most of us are working towards the most sustainable vehicle possible. For instance, this helps keep the cost down and allows us to venture out further into nature for a longer period of time. If we can learn how to make our water tanks stretch and how to keep our energy consumption down, we won’t have to spend money on RV parks.
We have met fellow boondockers who have been living off the grid for as few as two months and as long as many years. Most have built and designed a system that works for their usage and a large majority use solar to power their RVs.
“Not All Who Wander Are Lost”- J.R.R. Tolkien
I never truly understood the depth of this quote before spending time on the road. I have been lucky enough to find a community of like-minded, working-age nomads, living their lives on the road. As a result, the cost of living is much less, therefore, not as much time each day needs to be devoted to a job.
“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
We have had amazing conversations with other road warriors. Most commonly, religion, politics, and societal views come up. Certainly, these folks are able to have respectful conversations, even when viewpoints differ drastically.
Because we have more free hours in the day than the 9-to-5 crowd, we get to have these great discussions. In these conversations, I feel like I come out a better person. I have been presented with ideas I hadn’t given much thought to and sometimes my beliefs have been (respectfully) challenged and I’m forced to address why I feel or believe the way I do. The opportunity for self-reflection is remarkable.
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
There is a genuine sense of community among RVers, which Lance talked about in his post Is Veteran Community Engagement Gone?. He discusses his experiences as a Veteran and his search for a sense of belonging. I think many in this nomadic movement have felt the same way.
“I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” -Mark Twain
While some prefer to travel alone, I cannot imagine this journey without my partner. I can’t describe how fantastic it is to have somebody by my side to share these new experiences with; somebody who is just as eager to see the country as I am. When it’s just the two of us, we have to lean on each other for everything; all decisions must be made together and supported by both parties.
“When traveling with someone, take large doses of patience and tolerance with your morning coffee.” – Helen Hayes
It isn’t always easy cohabitating in 250 square feet. Good communication is the only way to create a successful partnership. Even though we don’t always succeed at this, there is a genuine effort by each of us every single day. We decided together to never go to bed angry. As cliché as it sounds, it has really helped us to move on from disagreements and hurt feelings.
“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” – Chinese proverb
I know this trip has changed me. It has changed the way I see myself, changed the way I interact with my partner and changed the way I view the world. I don’t think I’ll ever realize how much I have changed until I go home and try to live my old life again, I won’t fit in the way I once did, I have come to terms with it. I also have to realize that not everybody will understand why I chose this path.
“There are a lot of stories out there waiting for you to live them.”
Have you explored the idea of digital nomadism? If not, what is stopping you? Let us know in the comments below.