“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.” – Charles Bukowski
100 square feet.
In perspective, that’s:
- One-third smaller than the average US spare bedroom
- About the same space as three queen mattresses laid side-by-side
- Half the size of a one-car garage
- Twice the square footage provided by the average prison cell
- Smaller than most garden sheds
Now, imagine this space is occupied—full-time—by two adults, two children, and a dog.
Add to this all of the normal household goodies: a queen size bed, a kitchen (countertops, cabinetry, refrigerator, microwave, sink, etc.), a retractable dining table, two bunks for the kids, and a bathroom with a toilet and standup shower. Don’t forget the dog’s bed and blanket.
Then, there’s the stuff that waxes and wanes in its space-taking capacity, but still must be put somewhere.
Computers. Tablets. Phones. Cables.
Groceries that don’t fit elsewhere (shout out to 12-packs of sparkling water!).
Mother f’ing baby dolls.
Granted, our last house in Denver was small, so we had a bit of a run up. But, RV living?
This is a whole different ballgame.
No, fuck that. This is a parallel universe. We’re just getting started, compadre.
The Kiln We’ve Created
To this lack of space, add moving everything we own—sometimes hundreds of miles—every few days.
The bouts of mental illness, employment feasts and famines, emergency room visits (yes, plural), staying on top of the girls’ homeschooling, and creating new companies; now, we’re talking maximum discomfort.
But hey, it’s what we signed up for.
After all, our family of four (OK, five) has faced—and survived—realities that were completely outside our realm of consciousness just seven short months ago.
And the wisdom—versus knowledge—we’ve mined from our depths has inalterably shifted our perspectives. Given us a new vocabulary. Provided a broader palette from which we can now paint.
Although it’s a process, the plasma-hot pressure generated by our self-constructed kiln seems to be doing its job: burning our ego’s excesses into brittle charcoal. We’re getting to the core of who we are, and what we want.
A trial by fire, if ever.
Personal Growth Ain’t For the Playground
Despite the ever-looming risk of divorce, financial ruin, and decades of therapy for the girls, everyone in the household now seems to be coming into their own.
Sure, it takes constant, face-forward, all-in effort. But, we’re consciously, mindfully allowing all of these lessons to wash over us—which hit us about as gently as tidal waves.
By doing so, I believe we cultivate an atmosphere of honest introspection, which is perhaps the most powerful tool we can pass along to the girls. With it, they can forge themselves into courageous, compassionate, fiercely independent, take-no-shit women.
I also recognize that by facing complex, nuanced problems, and cumulatively discussing their solutions as a family, we expose the girls to some pretty heavy shit. Concepts that other kids their age might not have to wrestle with for many years.
Our current life demands their maturity.
As a result, I often ponder: By embarking on our inward-outward exploratory journey, have we exposed our most precious cargo to too much, too early?
Caused them to mature too quickly? Shifted their perspectives too rapidly?
Mapless, But Not Baseless
I have no idea what the future holds.
But I’ll tell you this: Right now—bolting alongside the ever-changing present moment—feels good. Solid. A foundation upon which something great can be built.
Even in a best-case scenario, though, we’re submitting our children to a chaotic, grimy, muddled process that’s littered with potholes.
But—so far, at least—I believe the wellspring of personal growth I’ve witnessed among us all far outweighs the foreseeable, potential downsides.
Springtime in December
Look, I continue fucking things up daily. I’m certainly not enlightened and shit.
But, Jamie and I made a commitment earlier this year: work hard, develop flexible perspectives, recognize our faults and failures, and honor the wisdom we gain from addressing them head-on.
Now, seven months into our exploration, I can see the seeds sprouting.
Our family is kinder, more compassionate, and equipped with greater patience. We’re better at understanding different perspectives. More skilled at remaining open to discussion, even when we just want to shut down. Sharper at calming ourselves; finding our centers amidst life’s turbulence.
We recognize how little physical space we require in order to thrive. And appreciate how important it is to identify, and mindfully cultivate, our vast interior landscapes.
Has RV life been a rollercoaster so far? Have we screwed up more times than we can count? Will we continue making stupid mistakes? You bet your sweet ass.
But, at this point in the journey, I honestly don’t think we’re causing our girls to mature too quickly. Instead, I believe we’re laying fertile ground for their advanced growth. And even though it’s December, it might as well be springtime.
Watch out world, here come the Lakins.