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An Experiment in Doing Nothing

Just Chillin'

Doin' Nuthin'

Experiments in Family Lifestyle Design

Dear Friend,

Recently, my family and I have been doing nothing.

In fact, I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to write about our status, because there just wasn’t much to write.

No new and exciting scenery.  No new thrills and chills.  No 1,000 mile jaunts to yet another unique corner of North America.

Nuthin’

Doin Nuthin’ is Doin’ Sumthin’

Yet today I realized that we were doing something.  Something different.  This past month we have been experimenting at living a more normal family lifestyle “on the road.”

If traveling North America is your family lifestyle, then you are going to quickly find your family lifestyle comes to an end.  Because North America, just like any other place on Earth, is finite.

Have we seen everything in North America yet?  No.  I’m not sure that is even possible.  But, to be honest, as an ignorant visitor, I have a hard time telling the corn in Kansas apart from the corn in Nebraska.  After a while, stuff starts to look alike to me.

So, what do we do?  Just declare our journey over and go back to our old family lifestyle?  Or something else?

New Journeys?

Well, there is more of North America to experience.  There’s still Mexico, which I suspect will be so culturally distinct from Anglo North America that the experience will be quite interesting.

And if we’re feeling really adventurous, there are an intrepid few who have driven the Pan-American highway as far as Panama.  Yup, it’s been done.  There’s even a book about how to do it.

So, is that what we did for the last month?

Nope.

We didn’t do nuthin.

Why?  Are we lazy?

Yup.

Actually, we took a different journey.  A different kind of journey.

We took a journey within.

Experimenting With Nuthin’

For the last month we have experimented with just living in one spot in our RV.  That means we have stayed in one location (Burleson, Texas) and just lived.  We went to the grocery store.  We ran our business.  We watched movies.  We even (God forbid) connected to the campground cable TV signal so my wife and I could watch “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC, and our oldest could watch his favorite show, “Castle.”

In other words, we stopped being wandering nomads for a bit and lived just like anyone else.

Our kids experimented with weird sleeping schedules. They don’t really have schedules anymore so what’s the harm? At some point there was somebody awake 24 hours a day.

Thankfully, all of us drifted back to a common nighttime sleeping schedule, but this was not pushed.  It happened naturally, and so I suspect that experiment is over.

We discovered how to live together in a small space without needing constant outside stimulation to keep us distracted.

We just lived.

At times it was boring.  There were tense moments on occasion – but surprisingly few.  The kids don’t fight much at all. Even though they still have disagreements, they rarely rise to the point of being physical, or even of raised voices!

Could we live in one place for a very long time?  A few months ago I would have said, “No.”  But now, I think we could.

Can Your Family Just Be?

Have you ever tried this?  I’d love to hear about your family’s experiences with just being.

How well can you all just be, like a family is apparently supposed to?  Or are we all just fellow travelers, sharing traveling space in life but not really focused on each other?

What do you think?

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

All the best,

Hugh 🙂

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Vesna October 12, 2010, 11:53 am

    lol – yeah we have problems just ‘being’. One of the reasons we decided on this is because we’re never home – or in the city our house is in – for more than a few days at a time. Even before I met my husband there was skydiving – which meant running out of the city every few days to toss myself out of a plane, and visiting friends and family in other towns. And I lived in Toronto for crying out loud…it wasn’t like there was nothing to do. I just needed to go.

    Yesterday was the first day in a long time that we just hung out and just ‘were’. I wrestled with the boys and did nothing all day. Every now and again it occurred to me that there was stuff to do, but we all needed to just let go. It was wonderful! We need times like this for sure! Good stuff! Glad you guys eased off a bit 🙂

    Once we hit the road, we’ll be spending 3/4 of our time in North America, and the rest of it living semi-nomadically in Europe. Once we’re ‘done’ with these continents, we’ll move on. I don’t plan on ever stopping until we’ve hit the parts of the world we want to see. But not in fancy pantsy hotels and such..just living like real people. Ain’t life grand?! :))

  • VWvagabonds October 12, 2010, 1:40 pm

    We Americans are doers. Give us a problem that requires action and well get moving to solve it. We worship those who accomplish great deeds and look down on those who do not try to do the same.

    Trouble is, we typically fail at the exact opposite. We are great at doing. We are terrible at refraining from doing. Said another way, our greatest strength is our ability to take action and do. Our greatest weakness is our inability to not do.

    Look at the largest problems we face today. Obesity. Indebtedness. Addiction. Infidelity. Violence. Unrestrained greed. They all revolve around our inability to restrain ourselves from taking action.

    One of the greatest sins an American can commit is to suggest that the best solution for a problem is to do nothing. We want actionable information. We want to take a pill to fix it. We want to buy something to solve it. We want it now.

    By doing nothing you are acknowledging that there can be value in allowing things to just happen. By doing nothing you are embracing the idea that there is more to life than measurable accomplishments.

  • Hugh DeBurgh October 14, 2010, 2:48 am

    Fantastic comment. Your response is a post in itself. 🙂
    It’s not easy for us Americans to just be. But it sure is good for the soul.
    All the best,
    Hugh

  • Hugh DeBurgh October 14, 2010, 2:51 am

    Hi Vesna!

    We love travel outside of North America, but we are watching our expenses right now, and the RV lifestyle makes that surprisingly easy.

    Do you plan to buy or rent an RV in Europe? Just curious.

    Thanks for the great comment!

    Hugh 🙂

  • Vesna November 15, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Sorry Hugh – I didn’t see this ’til now! I’m not sure whether we’ll be RV’ing in EU or renting/buying. My entire family is in Serbia, so we have free accommodations there for as long as we want. Land is super cheap there now (yay war!!) We’re going to use Serbia as a home base and travel out to other coutries from there. This summer when we’re there, we’ll figure out the whole RV thing and make a plan for the following year. We’ll also hit Germany, Greece (super cheap these days – for North American prices anyway) and Italy (where I have family 🙂 Outside of those countries, we need to find our own way.

    Sorry again for the delayed response!

    Ves

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