In-between order and chaos…
I’m not sure what I expected our first week on the road to be like. Honestly, I hadn’t really given it much thought. Cristi and I were so consumed with the final details of work and moving that we didn’t have a whole lot of time to plan ahead. If we had thought about it we might have realized that the transition from full time jobs to full time travel wouldn’t be perfectly smooth.
With our lease ending on the 30th of June, we knew we were starting our full time adventure on one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year. What’s more, June had been unseasonably cold and rainy in Wisconsin, so people were feeling cooped up and ready get outside. When the weather turned sunny and hot the last week of June we knew things were about to get crazy.
So we decided to ease into our summer by spending the first week of July visiting friends and family in and around Green Bay. We had a storage unit to organize, boat racks to build and a final sifting and winnowing of camping gear to complete. A week in GB would give us a chance to do all this and make sure the Casita was completely ready before we dove into life on the road. It wasn’t quite full-timing yet. It was more like in-betweening. In-between 9-5 life and life on the road.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the road. When I was working as a rep for Pyranha Kayaks I had a Dodge 3500 with a massive rack of kayaks on the roof and a Casita in tow. I drove that rig up and down the East Coast visiting dealers from Naples, Florida to Boothbay, Maine. Every day was hammering. Up in the morning, drive to the next dealer. Clinic, or demo or sales event. Dinner. Crash in the Casita. Wake up and do it again. When I could I took a day off to paddle with friends, but most of the time I was on a tight schedule.
Parked in front of my sister’s house in Green Bay, I realized that I didn’t have a schedule to keep. Cristi and I didn’t have to make it to the next dealer in time to set up the demo beach. We didn’t have to drive 14 hours to get up into the Hudson Valley before the weekend. We weren’t hitting Jersey Paddler and the Kittery show back-to-back.
We didn’t have to do anything.
Come to find out. That is a very unsettling feeling.
Of course, it’s liberating too. Who doesn’t dream of being able to choose what to do and when do do it? That’s a lot of freedom.
But something about that freedom had me on edge. I was alternating between calm and anxiety. One minute I was enjoying our newfound freedom. The next I was wound up. Cristi felt the same way.
When I was working on the road my schedule structured my travels and my life. Now I’m not working and there’s no place that we have to be. There’s no structure. That’s both liberating and intimidating.
Structure is confining, but comforting. You might make yourself miserable working away at a job you don’t like, but quit that job and you’ll find yourself adrift. Our jobs, our everyday schedules, form a sort of scaffolding for our lives. Tear that scaffolding away and you lose stability.
I have a good friend who’s fond of saying, “We all live in a hell of our own making.” I’m not sure I would go that far. But some of us do build our own cage. It feels safe in that cage. We can pound on the bars and holler for the guards to let us out from time to time. But we really don’t mean it. There’s something about the cage that is comforting. Something that makes us not want to leave.
Inside the cage is order, no matter how unpleasant. Outside the cage is the unknown. The unknown is frightening. Chaos.
If you discovered that you held the key to your cage in your hand, would you open the door?
Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson has a lot to say about chaos and order. He says there’s a tension in our lives between the two. Order brings safety and security, but too much order leads to tyranny. Chaos is associated with creativity, but too much chaos is destructive. Personal growth happens when you have just enough chaos that you can handle it, but not so much that the wheels fly off the bus. The point where you aren’t sure that you’ll succeed, but you think you have a good shot. The place where things are hard. Unsettling. The in-between.
We in-betweening. In-between the structure and limitations of our old life and whatever new life we create for ourselves on the road. The freedom is intoxicating. And a little scary.
Here we go!
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