Sometimes we get stuck. Stuck in a job, stuck between a rock and a hard place, stuck in the mud or stuck in a jam. Ug. Being stuck sucks. I hate being stuck.Who likes being stuck? Pretty much no-one I’d suppose.
The thing is, it’s a bit of a Catch-22.
It’s sucky being stuck, but we don’t really like change either – preferring the predictable. I think most human beings actual feel quite anxious about change. Especially change we haven’t chosen. Even people who openly create change might cringe at the idea of standing still. Which, of course, is actually a change for them.
Thankfully, Change (“Life’s Little Helper) ensures we don’t stay stuck too long. If we aren’t prepared to shake things up every once in a while, Change sends a tornado to move our house to a different postal-code. Ask anyone who has unexpectedly lost a job, a pet, a loved one or trust in something they believed in. My Gram used to say, “There’s nothing constant in life but change.” I dare say she was absolutely correct. It’s relentless.
Whether by Calamity, Catastrophy or Choice, Change Comes.
Having had just about enough of change I didn’t ask for at different times in life, I gradually adopted the principle of cultivating change myself, and have lived this way most of my life. If there has to be change, dammit, I was going to be in charge of at least some of it. This, of course, is a strategy to feel in control of things I have absolutely no control of. I know I can’t stop “unwanted” things from happening, but at the end of the day, I want the score to be something like Kit: 5, Change: 4. In other words, I’d like to win the Change Game by at least a small margin. My intentional, thoughtful change winning over the Lightening Bolt variety.
I imagine if I don’t invite Change into my life regularly, I might feel quite powerless when it sneaks up and scares the shit out of me while I’m tying my shoes or making tea. Also, changing things up in my life gives me practice so I’m ready when Cruella De Change knocks at my door. I think of it as an important survival skill. Change Drills, I like to call them.
For some reason, the term “vehicle for change” popped into my brain the other day and I immediately thought “Ha! Ha!” I have a vehicle for change, and it’s actually a vehicle! This thought amused me for a full afternoon! By definition, a vehicle is a machine that carries goods or people, but it is also defined as “something used to achieve an end ” and it’s synonyms include juicy words like “catalyst, instigator, driver and energizer.” I love those words.
A person’s vehicle for change does not have to be an actual vehicle, obviously. For some, a new job brings much needed self-esteem. For another, a one-time scuba-diving expedition leads to a lifelong obsession with sea urchin and marriage to a marine biologist. A decision to join a scrap-booking group might lead to reconnecting with a long-lost relative. Skiing may result in an accident leading you to become a national motivational speaker. It could be anything- a hobby, a friendship or a course of study. But this “thing” you chose becomes a pathway to change.
For some reason at this sucky, stuck time in my life, I chose an actual vehicle for change, specifically a van I happen to call “Chance”. It’s sort of funny now I think about it, how I had to ” Take a Chance” to make a change. The important thing is we do something different than what we were doing before! Stuck times call for radical measures.
I was very stuck prior to my “vehicle”. The pathways in my apartment were becoming well-worn and my need to control every little thing was getting a little out of hand. I struggled to accept I was no longer able to work and couldn’t imagine how life would be meaningful without doing what I had always done. My incredible kids were quickly becoming far more interesting than I had ever been; I felt old and worn out. Turning fifty felt flat. Worry and anxiety had replaced confidence and authourity in my life and I struggled to connect with people. I was surviving but had stopped thriving.
Let’s just say that Change was winning 21 to 4, and it was the top of the 5th inning. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I had a thought.
“I’ve still got a good 4 innings left” the thought whispered.
And that’s when I decided on my vehicle for change. A dear friend send me a link to a story about a woman who was travelling solo in a teardrop trailer and my brain wrapped around the idea like an octopus. I took a Chance, and it was on Chance the Camper. I’m not sure why I chose a van to help me move forward. Maybe because I needed something super-obvious: it had wheels and it moved forward, and that’s what I needed. To be un-stuck and moving. Anywhere. I needed some momentum.
I’m six weeks into this adventure and change has certainly rolled over me. Change I had invited with the purchase and building of Chance, but could not name when I began. Now the change is becoming obvious.
I moved from having to plan everything, to being relaxed enough to allow a day to unfold all on it’s own. Most days now, I have no idea where I will explore or sleep when I set off in the morning.
I am now outside more than inside. I have experienced more nature in six weeks than in six years and it is healing me. I am breathing more deeply. Trees, ocean, rock outcroppings, the stars, wind, sunshine, surf, birds and forest. Together, they are a wellness recipe for me.
I feel curious every day, wondering what is around the next corner or over the next hill. I am learning more about Canada and the world through people I meet. My brain feels sparky again. After two years of being unable to string words together, this experience has led me back to writing.
I am more physically active and the additional exercise has helped with chronic pain from an injury. I learned I can tolerate a lot more “unwanted sensation” in my body when the mental-pay off from more activity is high. A little more Tylenol and a positive frame of mind goes a long way in being able to roll more easily with physical discomfort. I challenge myself more. Push my limits. I’m becoming stronger. This picture is me on a very high ledge, rushing with the exhilaration of facing my fear of heights and the pride of having pushed myself to go a little higher.
I have regained confidence. I love to design things, and I am quite good at problem solving! What a surprise! All of this arose out of the process of designing the van and having it built. I now fiddle with things that don’t work properly rather than immediately seeking help. Often, I am able to come to good conclusions and sometimes even fix things myself.
I learned there is a big difference between “having a dog” and “having a relationship with a dog”. Pippa is my Yoda and tends to my heart every day. She makes me laugh and I love her so much sometimes I cry.
Perhaps the most meaningful change has been the feeling of having a community again, at a time my sense of belonging was a bit bruised and tender. I have discovered a diverse group of fascinating people from all over the world who delight in sharing their own vehicles, travel stories, triumphs and struggles. Great story telling often ensues.I feel connected.
Maybe for many people the passion is about the “vehicle” itself – the van, the RV, the pop-up- but I suspect for many, the passion and commitment to this life comes about because their vehicle-of-choice has become important in bringing about a meaningful shake-up in their own lives.
In one way or another -our vehicles move us.