It used to take me the better part of an hour to scope out a van-camping spot, before finally settling on what felt like “the perfect one.”
In the early days, I stayed mostly at provincial parks, and even if I were the only one there, I would race around in a panic, sure someone else was going to snatch up “my” spot before I claimed it.
Up at a park on Lake Superior, I actually changed my fully set-up spot three times in one day, before I could relax and settle in. Booking online for the busy season was even worse. It took me hours to click on my final choice.
Even after arriving in the open desert, where the parking spots are endless, I dithered over it.
Now I look back, and realize this state of mind represents some pretty sneaky and unhelpful thinking that was just part of my everyday life before I hit the road.
Oh, the worry.
Worried that what I needed or wanted wouldn’t be there for me when I finally arrived. Concern that someone else would probably get there first. A basic belief that I was wise to view others as competition. The idea that there are only a finite number of “perfect” things in the world, and they could run out at any moment. The belief that if I risked wanting something badly enough, it meant it was about to be snatched away.
And at the very core of it all, there was the invisible and unstated belief that there actually WAS a perfect “thing” and that in order to find it, I better hustle.
<insert thoughtful pause>
I no longer rush to find, or agonize over finding, the perfect place to camp. Or the perfect thing to experience. Or the perfect food to cook. Or the perfect camp-neighbour. Or the perfect town to visit.
Perfection no longer defines my life, and certainly not my travel experiences! I’ve decided it was a mirage, designed to rob me of joy-playfulness, and fill me with anxiety. I’ve come to believe the universe is full, and scarcity is pretty much a state of mind ready to pull my happy-plug.
When I rolled into the WRTR this year – after a full year of delightful anticipation – I didn’t even think about getting there early to stake out and secure my “special” spot. I just arrived when I arrived. I literally drove in, took the first little turn to the right, saw a bush with a relatively level spot in front of it, and thought “This will do just fine.” And it did just fine; full of surprises, and interesting people, and new landscape to explore.
I no longer depend on online reviews of campsites, towns or activities. No one else sees the world like I do, so no one else knows what my soul needs from an experience, or what I will value or treasure. Even I don’t always know what I need, so I’m best to leave some of the “Travel-Advising” to the Universe.
A night at a Manitoba KOA, being attacked by biting ladybugs next to a noisy transcanada highway is one of my most treasured memories of my cross-Canada adventure last year. An afternoon hiking through a “ghost town” which had almost nothing in it, (except perhaps ghosts) ended up being a memorable adventure with a dear friend, full of laughs.
A full day of biting, cold rain at this year’s RTR (the absence of perfect weather) reminds me how I accidentally ordered a child’s size rain poncho before I left home, but wore it anyway. Which apparently gave me permission to check on all my neighbours in my pajamas. Which makes me smile.
And of late, I’ve taken to spending time with cacti that are in some fashion, not classically “pretty” or stately. I am beginning to suspect they have more to teach me than the ones that keep plastic on their living room couches.
Wishing you all this relaxed state of mind, the one without perfectionism in it. The one that sees all experiences as potentially meaningful and rich. It is an unexpected gift of this lifestyle worth sharing.
13 thoughts on “Letting Go of Perfect”
Everything you say touches my heart. Thank you
LOVE YOUR BRILLIANCE , GREAT WRITING,THOUGHTS AND AMAZING PHOTOGRAGHS . I ALSO LOVE YOUR LITTLE DOG !
WHEN I WAS IN MY EARLY TWENTIES I MADE A SEAR’S DELIVERY VAN INTO A HOME AND LIVED IN IT FOR A YEAR , INCLUDING THE WINTER ON A NORTH END WINNIPEG STREET . I’M 60 NOW , AND HAVE MADE A FEW MORE HOUSES-ON-WHEELS TO TRAVEL-+ LIVE-IN …THROUGH THE YEARS . AM GEARING UP TO HIT THE ROAD AND LIVE IN MY PLYMOUTH GRAND VOYAGER. I HOPE TO MAKE IT TO THE RTR ONE OF THESE YEARS , HAVING COME ACROSS YOU TUBE VIDS OF THE EVENTS A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS ADVENTUROUS ROAMING IS INSPIRING AND AFFIRMING , KIT , AND IT’S NICE TO KNOW YOU , AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE OUT THERE ….. AND I MIGHT RUN INTO YOU/THEM SOMETIMES , WHEN MY TIME COMES TO TAKE OFF !
THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS AND VIEWS ( INNER AND OUTER ).
What a fabulous article. I am a Medium who is used to channeling messages from the universe. Your message truly feels as if it were channeled through your soul and sent out to all of us for some refreshing thoughts and ponderments. It came at precisely the right time for me as I plan a 7k mile road trip with my 19yo son in May. We are bemoaning no longer having a TT, but also ecstatic that we no longer have a TT. Van camping is what we initially set out to do 6 years ago and got…sidetracked. Now, on what’s most likely our final epic voyage with each other, we have come full circle.
Your article reminded me to stop sweating the small stuff. We know where we want to go, so we just go until the money runs out and then come home, right? What an absolutely liberating thought. Now, we just get to have fun and enjoy each other’s company and the adventures that await us!
Are you in my brain? I am a fifty-three year old solo woman and I am doing everything to gear my life towards van life. My challenge is my feelings about the cold. I, currently, live in Edmonton and we have been in a cold snap for weeks. The reality of winter is a bit terrifying!
My job will keep me in my city, most of the time, especially since I work as a massage therapist…although, I am looking into doing some writing and being an Amazon merchant. I am also recognizing that I will, likely, have to leave for Dec, Jan and Feb to avoid the harshest months of winter. Ugh…so many decisions. Do I leap…or plan? Right now, I’m doing both…leaping WITH a plan. Of sorts. Anyway lol, you are doing what I hope to do: buy a smaller, affordable, efficient vehicle with a way to be comfortable and functional, too. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!
Hi Kit! That article really hit home for me. I anticipate and try to figure out how to have the most perfect experience all the time. I think of myself and easy going and spontaneous but I was reminded of how I internally try to control my environment all the time. As I planned to go to the WRTR this year I worried about the section I would go to and who would I camp next to. I wanted to be with the “cool kids”. LOL! The fact is, I had a great time and I was able to walk about and see all the other areas and met some wonderful people (including YOU)! I need to remember to just let things go and be in the moment. Experience what life brings me and not worry about the best spot, the perfect seat for an event or missing out on something. The worry only brings about anxiety and steals the joy! Breathe and just let it flow…. AHHHH!
Thanks Kit!! Peace!
Debbie (from Michigan 😉
Wonderful blog. The wisdom of letting go of perfect and expectations!! Very wise.
I had an art teacher once who told us that “perfection is paranoid. Stop at excellence.” I am learning that if I have faith in the error then the error will show up. If I have faith that good will show up then that’s what I’ll experience. Thanks for beautiful writing!
I LOVE this post! I have distilled my philosophy of life down to one sentence after 75 years (I may have gotten it from an Oprah Winfrey magazine) : There is a Path and I am being led. Have you read Eckhart Tolle yet?
I absolutely loved this! It made me breathe more deeply and wish I was in the camp spot next to yours! Sending much love,
Letting out a big sigh as I finished reading this – felt my whole body and state of being relax! Thank you!
The best and thank you for your honesty and insight. So needed to hear, empowering and another incentive of taking the risk to road trip. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, thankful for today. You are a true inspiration, thank you.
Oh I can relate to that!! I don’t think I am yet at the stage of totally letting go like Kit but on the way. I too used to worry about THE spot I needed!
I hope to learn this skill.