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.