I can still recall the Friday I picked up Tillie, my RV, and maneuvered it back from Bartlett to Naperville. Aside from being freaked out by my 20-year mortgage commitment and the 27' body extended behind my driver's seat, I had to figure out what I needed to take with me, where to put what I thought I needed, and I needed to do it fast because I was scheduled to shove off the following Monday.
The picture of me with bins and boxes stacked in this cramped space was plain ugly. I'm setting out on a journey to who-knows-where to do who-knows-what and I'm sitting in a friend's apartment complex parking lot sorting and storing shit. I had no clue what I needed.
Fast forward, 87,000 miles and 4 years and 4 months later. I'm parked for the night in a southern Louisiana WalMart parking lot, knowing storms are destined to dump rain soon. I look around at the inside of Tillie and I smile. Most of what I thought I needed--bins, file folders, office supplies, etc.--I didn't need. I still could pare back considerably, but the folks here at WM wouldn't appreciate me having a yard sale.
One of the most surprising lessons I've learned (and I'm still in kindergarten) is how little I really need. I'm not austere--at least not by my thinking. I eat well, albeit a limited (by choice and practicalities) menu. I am comfortable, though I've become a cold weather wimp. And I work hard, though I've learned to set limits, like no computer in bed.
What I've become aware of is the difference between need and want. And I question my want category much more vigorously. I'm not the one stimulating the economy by amassing goods.
But I have what I need. And I'm painfully aware that many people don't begin to have what they need. And I need to check myself when getting angry about all those who have way more than I think they could need.
I'm grateful for incredible support that empowered me to pull out of the parking lot and point Tillie's nose out of Illinois. I've met some amazing people--homeless families, people who work with homeless children and youth, and those who truly care about what happens to people in poverty. I've seen some amazing sights, backroad fan that I am. And the dream of creating a documentary to give homeless kids voice and visibility has been realized, and then some! If you haven't seen the HEAR US website, I invite you to do so.
Seems to me that the leap of faith back in '05 was a good one for me. And I believe that our nation is at that "leap of faith" point now, staring at the biggest challenge our country has ever faced--how to overcome hatred that spews from every possible source, further impairing our democracy that was far down the road to dysfunction. My fantasy--to have a committee to sort national needs and wants. It'll be an ugly process, but now's the time.