My Story of Voluntary Homelessness, and Why YOU SHOULD DO IT TOO
Once in a while in our lives, there are junctures on the road.
You earn a degree, you get a divorce, your house burns down, your significant other breaks up with you, etc., etc., and you find yourself in the middle of the road wondering “what is next?”
You feel it very, very deeply, that something needs to shift, but you don’t know what. Sometimes you have an idea of what it is that you should experience next, but you have no idea how on earth to make it happen. (That should not worry you; as long as you are on your true path, things will work out. That doesn’t mean that things are always easy; they will be hard at times, but the experience or hardship will never be in vain; it will enrich you).
In February of 2015 I was in such an inner turmoil. I knew that something had to shift; I HAD TO MOVE, but I did not know where. I looked at a handful of possibilities, including taking a retreat in a small country town to write; I considered three such small towns, but these options did not feel 100% right.
My faith in myself isn’t as great; I have faith in the Universe, but I don’t always have faith in myself, so it was a little agonizing waiting to get clarity on what my next move was going to be.
Until one day the thought came to my mind and I knew it instantly, “this is it”:
I will go and experience not having a place to call “my home”.
It is now or never.
I knew that if I didn’t seize the opportunity of that moment, it would be gone forever, and I would regret it.
The moving sand of the current situation both required and facilitated it. I was being pushed out of the nest, and I would make the best of a difficult juncture. This would be no picnic, but it would teach and enrich me.
How was that going to work out? I didn’t know, but I knew that it was going to work out somehow.
I had an apartment-full of furniture and things, and I had long contemplated the idea of minimizing the amount of things that I called “mine”.
What would it be like to have very little stuff? I wondered; and the thought exhilarated me. I had stuff I never used, and some of it I didn’t know where it was, which irked me.
This is how it all worked out:
- I sold all my furniture with one exception: an antique I thought my girls may want
- I gave away or threw away about one fourth of my things (not at all enough, I would find out later)
- I rented a space to store the stuff.
- I decided to spend some time in the town where my oldest daughter had moved a year prior to work on our relationship and travel together some
- I couch surfed a little. (If you are not familiar with couch surfing, feel free to ask; it is one of the most enriching things I have done in my new life)
- We camped out a little
- I visited an old friend in Houston to catch up to our heart’s content
- I slept in my van, which I had conditioned as best I could, 12 nights here and there, (three of them in a Walmart parking lot)
- And finally, I landed in the same town where my daughter lived and we rented an apartment together for one year
- I was without a home for four months to the day, and I was enriched in ways I never could have been otherwise. Don’t take this to mean that it was mostly easy, but I rescued many lovely memories from among the anxious ones.
Hardship and exhilaration coexist; life is full of paradoxes. (Some people miss them because they focus only on the negative aspects of experiences, but experiences are always dual in nature).
It was a lot of work, and a lot of vulnerability, and I don’t regret it for a second. I traveled many nights with the moon as my only companion, and my heart pounding a little harder than the normal resting state; grateful that my vehicle was reliable and safe, and feeling a universal reality very close, very latent, and very alive.
A tire did blow up once, and a nice man changed it for me, and then, one tire from the new set of tires I got installed, nearly came off the rim while we were on an interstate highway; (the tire store gave me a token compensation for having come close to killing me and my daughter, and I was grateful).
Why should you do it too?
If the thought of going without a home for a while excites you even a little, — and a list of other “ifs” that you will know what they are, like “if you wouldn’t be abandoning your children”, “if you are physically fit”, and other reasonable ifs; if you pass them all:
Do it, I beg you! (and it may excite you A LOT)
There are reasons why you get excited at the idea, (if you do), here may be some of them:
- You have to have the space to be with yourself, your thoughts, your being
- It is possible that you may never have had this opportunity, and it is very important to have times of solitude with ourselves, not with our phones!
LET THE NEW “DISCONNECTED FROM MEDIA” MEAN “CONNECTING WITH OUR AUTHENTIC SELF”, AND NOT “GOING NUTS”
— Viviana Rose
3. This is a semi-repeat of # 2 but it’s merited:
it is quite possible that you have never heard your real self,
and you need space and quietness to listen to yourself. (Not your endless mind chatter, but your real self; the more quiet one, the one that goes unheard without complaining).
4. Maybe you are annoyed at how the stuff that you own owns you, and maybe, subconsciously, you do notice that instead of things serving you, you end up serving them.
5. Maybe you want to go back to basics; maybe you want to experience the feeling of utter freedom from stuff… Believe me, it exists and it is waiting for you.
6. Maybe you have a sense that you have no idea who you are because you live immersed in noise and in expectations; your own and others’, and you are lost in the tumult that is your life.
7. Maybe you just want to feel the radiance of the Milky Way on your face as you lay down at night, staring at the universe, alone, and see how this “conversation” will transform you.
Not to get religious or anything, but Jesus said, “ the life of man does not consist in the abundance of the goods that he possesses” Luke 12:15. It was not effortful for him to live that way; what freedom!
More to come on this topic in later articles because it is an exhilarating proposition, to swim against the current of having more, and rather lighten up our burden by seeking to learn what “enough” really means.
You may not be at this moment in the position to go without a home for a while, and that is okay; — I was very lucky to find the courage to do it, and I believe I was right that if I didn’t do it then, I may never do it.
The thing is: Keep it moving! Do not let the sediments of your life settle and sour! Keep it alive! Maybe it means a week in the wilderness, without electricity… at least to get something new started :-).
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Copyrighted material 2017