As I’m writing this the 6th annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is in the history books and as I’ve told you before, I think it was by the far the best ever. Without any question it was the largest one yet; it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate count but my guess is somewhere between 150 and 200 free people showed up. That sounds like huge number of people (and it is!) but when we are scattered across such a large chunk of desert it really isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Normally with that many people you’d expect conflicts and problems over some minor issue but we are not your typical group! Everywhere you went in camp you saw little groups of people smiling and laughing with each other. If I were going to summarize the whole thing I’d say it was 150 very happy and carefree people joining in the desert for a great time full of fun, laughs and smiles!!
Why are vandwellers so happy?
Having found a way out of the rat race, much of the fear, rage and frustration that is part of the American Dream has drained away from us so we can gather together and actually enjoy each other and nature. That’s because the stress of living by the time-clock as wage-slaves is gone, leaving behind a sense of peace and contentment. It’s a joy to be around people like that and little issues that would usually become big problems stay little and aren’t magnified out of proportion by our stress addled heart and mind.
I think there is a very important lesson in how happily and trouble free we are able to live at the RTR and the simple lesson is that free people are happy people. When we threw off societies noose of being wage-slaves living to buy more stuff and paying a huge amount of money for a house to warehouse it in, everything in our lives changed. Suddenly we were free to go where we wanted when we wanted and for whatever reason we wanted.
That kind of freedom makes it very easy to be happy!
However, there are still limits on our freedom. Many of us have Social Security or pensions so we don’t work at all, so of course we are relaxed and happy! But lots of us still have to work at jobs so we have enough money to be comfortable, but even then we work less than we ever did before and as soon as we’re done we can move to a new place. Just when we’re starting to get really sick and tired of a job and a location, it ends and we can move on to either a new job or time off from work. Our freedom is still limited but it’s more than enough to elevate our whole lives into a much higher plane of happiness.
Who do you think is happier, a person who is stuck at a job for the rest of his life or a person who only works 3-6 months a year and at two or more different jobs in different places?
I think it’s obvious that generally the second person is much happier. I worked at the same job for 30 years and I promise you that I was much, much happier after I left there and became a camp ground host in a National Forest. Working at a job I liked for 6 months a year was a thousand times better than working at any job knowing I was stuck there for decades to come!
It’s true that by living in a van we do lose many comforts other people think are essentials, but we gain so much freedom that to me it’s a tiny price to pay. When I try to tell people that they usually can’t even begin to understand what I’m talking about. They can’t imagine how wonderful freedom is because many have never experienced it and aren’t even aware of how little freedom they have; that they are slaves of the “System.”.
Slaves to What? The Marketplace.
It’s true that there are no laws forcing us to work or telling us where we must work, but there are unwritten Laws of the Marketplace that are more powerful than any written laws. The simple fact is if you don’t work you won’t have money to buy food or shelter. The more money you need the less freedom you have to make choices so it’s societies goal to make you need the most money possible.
In modern countries we are forced to stay in our unhappy wage-slave lives by laws that make living any other way very difficult or impossible. For example, there are many laws in place that force you to live in a physical house because that makes you a slave to the marketplace. As any vandweller will tell you, once you aren’t living in a stick and brick house, in many ways you become an outlaw and have to skirt around the edges of the law and even sometimes break the law. By forcing us to live in a house they make us slaves to the Laws of the Marketplace.
Houses require a lot of money to live in and the only way to get money is to work. Everything in our society acts like a funnel to force us into being wage-slave drones trudging our way to work every day and being productive.
One of the most powerful funnels is advertising in the various media. We’re constantly subjected to propaganda that very effectively convinces us to want and buy the latest and greatest thing. The more things we buy the bigger house we need and the more dependent we are on the Laws of the Marketplace. We become slaves to our FICO Score and Landlord.
Like good dogs, we’re kept locked up by an invisible electric fence that shocks us every time we try to stray out of our good, respectable lives. We’re so brainwashed we don’t know the shock was put there to control us, we thinks its normal and natural. Unless you’re a vandweller and have found a way out of the marketplace you are basically a slave, forced to stay where you are by manipulation and having all your other choices made impossible.
Granted, for most of us it’s a reasonably pleasant slavery and we’re given an amazing amount of freedom within the slave system. You can work at the job of your choice in the place of your choice; you can advance up the ladder or coast along at the bottom–but you WILL contribute to the system that is enslaving you! Refusing to do so will mean you will be punished, at the minimum you’ll be sentenced to a life of poverty and discomfort
We’ve found just about the maximum freedom and joy possible to modern people by living in our vans. By being free from rent, house or utility payments we’ve found a way to live with the minimum amount of work as a wage-slave but still maintain a decent amount of comfort, convenience and pleasure. Even if we have to work it’s much less than ever before and often it’s at jobs we somewhat enjoy.
Most of us get the winters off and that allows us to gather in the desert at the RTR. The reason we’re all so happy is we’ve found just about as much freedom as we can have in such an un-free world! That means smiles, laughter and friendship dominate our lives much more than frowns and fights–like they used to in the bad old days as a wage-slave for life.
What about you, are you ready to make some changes? Would you like to be as free as possible even if you have to give up some comfort to get it? If so, the life of a Nomad may be for you!
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