“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.” Hugh Hefner
I had a dream. I was on my way to Texas to visit family, and I was on a flat road with no mountains. There were no road signs, trees or bushes just flat open road surrounded by flat grassy plains. I was alone, and my car was on cruise control. I was comfortable. I was content, and I was going up I-20. It is the way that everyone else went when heading from Phoenix to Dallas. I woke up, not all at once like you dreamt you were falling, or that classic naked dream. It was a very slow and deliberate exit from this dream state into the early morning air. I was cold, mostly because my wife navigates all the blankets on her side of the bed throughout the night. (I resemble that remark!) I felt alarmed because of the parallel my dream had to my reality. I was scared. Scared of how comfortable I had become.
I got up quietly and went outside, and I thought about my dream. I was groggy, and it was a quarter past 4am so it was still dark outside. I sat for a while and stared at the red lights on top of the white tank mountains. I prayed out loud, I meditated quietly, and I could hear all the thoughts in my head clearly and concisely. I sat and dissected the dream, compared it to my current life, and I knew I had to make a change. I was comfortable. I was in a job that paid me very well. A job that after 8 years took very little effort or mental real estate to do. I collected my paycheck, and I followed what I thought was the sensible path in life. It was the road we are told to follow. I read articles and reviews, and I set my calendar to the next new and cool gadget I had to purchase. I took my family in and out of debt. (Let's be honest we both took our family in and out of debt. I love to shop!) I used my gift I had been trusted with to go from one meaningless project to the next. One creative venture after another to keep my mind from being idle. To keep my thumbs from twiddling. I created a cocoon of security and comfort that was more a mirage then a reality.
I was traveling down my road with no direction. I was just following the path others had paved for me. My metaphoric trip from Phoenix to Dallas was where the ending was already written. I would retire one day with my best years behind me. My dreams stayed dreams, and I created wealth for another man using up my most valuable resource. My Time. As I watched the Arizona sky light up with streaks from the sun it reminded me of cherry kool-aid, I realized that I had already researched my next steps. I inadvertently came across a book The Art of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. That would lead to googling minimalism, that would thrust me towards curating the life I really wanted. I just had to get past the fear. A very real fear, that I had rightful justified because after all who really just goes and follows their dreams!
I started really simply. I listed out the things I really wanted to do with my 40’s. A sort of bucket list, but instead of using the word “I want” I wrote “I am going to.” The syntax, I concluded, was an important step to aligning my actions to my goals/dreams. (The list is still on my phone now.)
I am going to extensively travel with my family.
I am never going to take my son to daycare again. (He hated it, and it broke my heart to send him.)
I am going to make my wife “a stay at home mom.” (Her dream)
I am going to live debt free.
I am going to create income from my computer on the road.
I am going to keep myself uncomfortable to aid in my personal growth.
I am going to define my values and revisit them quarterly.
I am going to align my actions to my dreams.
Now to be honest, a lot of where we are today was born out of this early morning session spent in silence by myself. its not the whole story, and we will get to that eventually. I did not unload this to my family all at once. They would think dad just went off the deep end. I just made some quiet changes myself, and I started sharing my thought process to Bethany in slow appetizer like servings. (I know my husband, so I understood that my life was soon going to change, but that did not mean I was ready.) Honestly, she was not impressed, or moved by my new direction. It took 4-5 months for her to really come around. I never really shared my dream with her even though she knew I left the bed at 4am that morning.
I tend to process things internally, and very little of what I work through is ever said out loud. It is something that drives her crazy, so when I shared my idea of RV living I figured she would smile because she just didn't want to scare me away from sharing more in the future. When she finally jumped on board, she was going through her closet and got rid of 8 large black garbage bags of clothes then it became an addiction. (I have had a lot of people ask me about this, and honestly it was the most freeing experience. It is overwhelming and not fun at first, but the freedom of a clean closet was amazing.) Much like someone getting one tattoo which leads to many tattoos. We developed a plan, schemed to pay off debt, and we commit not to share this plan until it was realized. After all who really just goes and follows their dream.
Now we live our life following our own road, we are surrounded by uncomfortable adventures. We choose not to follow most roadsigns, and we don’t aways see what is around the bend. (Anyone that knows me knows that I would get lost in my own neighborhood, so that is not scary to me!) It is our dream, and we will refuse to live it on cruise control. There will be breakdowns, and wrong turns made, but if we really wanted to, we could always hope on I-20 and rejoin the rest of America.
PURPLE LETTERS/PARENTHESES = Interruptions by Bethany