What does freedom mean to you?
Is it something bestowed upon you by someone or something else or is it yours to embody, to live? Do you believe you find it in this life or is it something you hope for in the future? Can freedom exist with responsibility and roots or must you be completely untethered to find it?
It took a trip to India and back again for me to shake up another sediment layer of my life - a layer of assumptions, judgements, and comfortable blindness - and to re-awaken to something I hadn't felt it in a long time… hadn’t even really thought about… But then I set off into the great unknown for three weeks with not much more than two outfits, a toothbrush, and a whole lot of trust. And what I discovered was joyful, flowing, surrendered, freedom.
I was vulnerable, yes. But vulnerable is not weak… it’s not even necessarily dangerous. It’s peering out a window at a whole new world and drinking it in with all of your senses as if it’s your first day alive and you can’t wait to run outside and splash around. It’s a not knowing and a not needing to know - an allowing, a flowing. It's meeting myself where I am and meeting everyone I encounter without the labels, roles, and assumptions that keep me from truly seeing their unique soul. It’s the confusion and discomfort of the unfamiliar, but without doubt - with, in fact, grace and forgiveness. It's guts, heart, and head... all dancing together for survival, joy, and the simplicity of a life being fully-lived.
I was 18 and solo when I first fell in love with the freedom of travel, heading off to New Zealand for three months with two outfits, a tooth brush, some camping equipment, and as yet untried-trust. How liberating to take a deep breath, dive into the deep end, and discover that being in unfamiliar territory with only your guts, head, and heart is actually your superpower. And how intoxicating to realize you like who you are in your own company when until now you’ve only ever thought to see yourself through the eyes of others.
I began a period of time where I let how good I was at travel be something to keep me safely distant from the real work of rooting. It was a freedom without responsibilities - superficial, avoiding complexity and familiarity and the burden of connections… because while I might have liked who I was when alone, I didn’t yet know how to be myself around others. Eventually I realized that I would never be able to run far enough or fast enough to avoid the loneliness of not being willing to look in a mirror.
So for the past nine years or so, freedom became more of an inward journey. I set myself the challenge of learning to build, to sustain, to grow a foundation, to live fully in my body and community. I worked on farms, I got certified to teach yoga, and then I taught it.. a lot of it. I started a business and set up an intentional home-space with a compatible roommate. I embarked on a 2+ year journey into the world of energy medicine and after that, I opened my private practice. I learned about the kind of compassion it takes to love people even on the days when they drive you crazy. I developed the courage it takes to have the hard kinds of conversations that allow any kind of relationship to weather the storms and tides of life. I softened into the kind of person who can actually let other people in, while setting boundaries based on a strong sense of self-worth. Without knowing it, each small and obvious step forward, I lived my way into a deeper place of inner freedom.
And then I arrived at a threshold. So many of the threads that I had followed on this inward journey were naturally coming to an end and the new pattern to be woven wasn’t clear. I paused in fear and uncertainty. Where to go from here? I heard the call of the wild wolf in my belly that always hungers and wants for more but when I looked out my window for clues, all I could see was the sediment of roles, assumptions, and familiarity that had accumulated during this last phase of my journey. In the world of roots and responsibilities, the next step is almost always to buy a house. To create a home. I figured that’s what I would do.
Then I returned from India. And in the time away, I had switched glasses - removed the ones which had guided me as I was doing the work of rooting and put back on the ones that I wore when I was discovering how at home I was in my own body and soul, connected with all other souls, but with no one to answer to but myself.
With the edges of my old life now tugging and squeezing like a sweater shrunk in the wash, and two pairs of glasses that showed me two possible lives which felt completely contradictory, I closed my eyes and leaned in to the space between… trusting that my way would appear.
After a few weeks of discomfort, of grasping at strands and watching them pull me in different directions before unraveling, I finally landed in an inner space large enough to hold the paradox of both my desire for roots and my longing for movement. From there, I could see clearly that the way I lived my 'home' was based upon control. I stressed when I didn't have the answers because I had internalized a standard where I 'should.' I defined myself and my voice by my roles. I often stopped truly seeing the people in front of me because with familiarity often comes assumptions. I felt the smallness and guilt of my circles and routines and unquestioned everyday-ness, but daunted and overwhelmed by the work of stepping outside the walls I, myself, created.
And so I whispered a prayer: I am willing to let it all burn down. Every last bit of it. Everything I believe to be true. Everything I think I am.
In the next few weeks of even more discomfort, very little actually changed in the specifics of my life but who I was within them changed. As I began to say yes to a life of freedom, I began awakening to not only what that might look like, but also all the ways I was self-sabotaging and holding myself back. Between where we are and where we want to be are aways stumbling blocks of our own making. And so I began the disciplined work of freedom - dismantling another layer of self-created, internalized prisons.
As I dismantled and wiggled and created more space within the idea of home and more roots within the idea of movement, I landed in a truth that I am finally ready to embrace:
I am leaving my current residence and buying (for full-time living) an RV so that I can be at home, wherever life takes me.
There are a lot of reasons for this: I want to travel and see more of the country. I am tired of spending so much of my free time taking care of a house and yard, large portions of which I barely use. If my living space is large, I will continue to hold on to more things than I need, all of which weighs me down. I love the community and roots I have here, and I am excited to get to meet more people and build connections and community wherever I go. I want the constant reminder to be present, awake, without blinders and assumptions. I want a life that uses resources differently, leaves a smaller footprint, involves less debt, that participates less in a system that seems to me to only benefit a small few. I want a life that is a little more raw - with fewer walls, more in tune with the seasons… a life the reminds me that we can never truly own a place or things. That everything we have is merely on loan and in service to us on our journeys.
At times it feels exhilarating and clear and at other times uncomfortable and terrifying. It brings up all my fears and stories around money, around responsibility, around what being an adult looks like. What if my business takes a big hit and I can’t make any money? Do I really want to start over all the time? How much debt am I willing to go into to make this life happen?
It brings up fears about asking for help and my prison of unworthiness. Out of the all the pain in the world, who am I to jump into a life that might at times require the support of others? I should be self-sufficient and independent and try for a life where I don’t need anybody! Do I even trust that I will be supported? I should be able to give more than I receive. Am I a hypocrite for thinking that but talking about connection and community?
It brings up my fear of standing out, speaking up, rocking the boat. Will I be too messy? What will others think? Why do I still even care?
It brings up stories around being a woman and what is expected of us, and also awareness of how my life choices continually seem to reinforce my privilege as a white person and all that is messy and ugly in that. Do I want a family and kids? And if I do, which by no means is certain, are all my life choices making that harder and harder? And is this drifting just another way for me to avoid engaging with social justice? None of my life choices have been made outside of the context of my skin color and socioeconomic class - what is my responsibility in all that and am I truly living what I believe?
It brings up my fear of just how vast I am and my fears around success as well as failure. What if I get what I want and discover it’s not what I want? What if it’s lonely and hard? What if I lose the friends and support network I have here? What if I can’t actually handle just how fucking awesome I am?
For several months now, I have held this deep desire tenderly close. Wanting to wait until the camper was mine and the pieces had begun to fall into place before sharing. Expecting ease and only good news to share. And instead, I’ve found lessons and stumbling blocks. I started the journey thinking I wanted one thing, only to realize that wasn’t what would serve me best and learned some things about minimalism versus self-denial. Then the search for my new home became frustrating and shitty while I encountered more than one scammer and had the legitimate campers I was excited about get sold out from under my nose. I quickly spiraled from a place of deep trust into a place of deep doubt. And there’s a little voice that whispers now how much easier it would be to just give up the dream and continue quietly in a life that I know is too small. And that’s how I know I’ve held it too close for too long and that it’s time to share. It’s time for some accountability. It’s time to stop thinking I need to do it all alone and to speak up so that I allow myself to receive support.
So if you read this and want to send some prayers on my behalf out into the universe, please do. If you know of a camper that might want to be my home, let me know. My roommate has been encouraging me to start a gofundme, so if you feel inclined to offer financial support for this endeavor, that is welcome and deeply, deeply appreciated (https://www.gofundme.com/kate-goes-mobile). For those of you who have offered me and my things space in your houses if I haven’t found my camper before the end of this month, thank you.
It’s time to stop thinking freedom is only when I’m alone. And just like I do when I travel, it’s time to trust in all of you, my Earth angels and guides, just as much as I do my heavenly ones and my own courageous heart.