“Joel, let’s buy a 1950’s trailer and travel across America for a year”, I said yesterday.
“Okay”, he replied, without missing a beat. “Let’s do it.”
But maybe I should start at the beginning.
For a long time, I considered myself a chameleon. I felt as though I lacked a strong sense of identity, and could easily mirror other’s opinions, clothing choices, writing styles and personality traits. I mish-mashed them all together into a mosaiced version of ‘me’. I was often intrigued to hear what people thought of me – what they made of me from the outside. We all do a little bit, I think – have a silent but burning curiosity to see if our insides match our outsides. I would meet people and envy how much they fitted into their skins. You know the kind of folk? The ones who are sure of who they are — confident in that easy, non-showy way. The ones who have a ‘thing’, like burning love for animals and their volunteering at local animal shelters. Or a passion for plants, listing every flower, tree and shrub by their third birthday. They are easy to be around, these people. You know who they are because they know who they are.
What was my thing? And who the hell was I if I was really just a little from column A, a little from column B, and just a touch from column C — A,B,and C being, mostly, the people I came into contact with? Fickle, I felt.
Now though, I view things differently.
Now I think that I’m just easily inspired. I might have coffee with a friend and find myself admiring how unashamedly honest she is. How at ease it makes me feel. How real it makes me want to be. So I tuck a little part of her under my arm and carry her as part of ‘me’ – something for which to strive more for. A trait I want to work harder at. I might have dinner with a family member and become irritated by the way they don’t look at me when I talk to them. How insignificant it makes me feel. How important it is to feel listened to. So I tuck a little part of them under my arm and carry them as part of me – the part which reminds me to remain quiet when the person before me is talking. The part which reminds me to look them in the eye and ask genuine questions and listen to them so closely it feels like I am in their shoes. I might visit a friend who lives in a sleek modern house, in the middle of suburbia and pine for a tiny slice of her life. She is so settled it’s grounding, and she is living in the home she will raise her babies in until they are all grown up. I envy the community she has there – the neighbours who are friends, the street parties they have, the children who play together in the street. So, I tuck a little part of her under my arm and carry her as part of me – a lifestyle to create more of – the raising of my babies among a group of friends and neighbours, among a village which is mine. That same day, I might come home and read a blog by a woman – an amazing photographer – who sold her house and all her belongings, bought a flower-painted 1950’s trailer, and set off with her husband and four kids on a trip across America with the dream of getting out of the rat race, simplifying their lives, and spending time raising their babies…..really raising their babies. I suddenly envy her life and think, “I could do that” and seek to sell up everything we own and live freely like that. So, I tuck a little part of her under my arm and carry her as part of me – the part which encourages me to dream my biggest dreams., to live my one wild and precious life as intentionally as I can and to continually ask myself what I value to be the most important things.
You know what?
We can be a great many things. We should be a great many things.
One of my favourite parts of Little Women is this:
Jo March: I find it poor logic to say that because women are good, women should vote. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country. Mr. Mayer: You should have been a lawyer, Miss March. Jo March: I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer
The who am I? question, now, seems irrelevant to me and it’s something I try to avoid asking myself. I am stubborn just as much as I am easy-going. I am loving just as much as I am judgmental. I am a home-body just as much as I am a wanderer. Sometimes, I like to wear high heels and put my hair in a tight bun. Sometimes, I like to wear Jesus sandals and floral vintage dresses and put flowers in my hair. None of these things defines who I am. Nothing defines who I am really, because who I am is constantly changing, growing, messing up, trying harder, doubting, failing, overcoming and starting fresh. That is the great beauty of being human.
The more important question, I believe, is What inspires me? What do I love? If you love the retro plate with the psychedelic pattern – if it makes you happy – buy the damn retro plate with the psychedelic pattern. Don’t mind that it doesn’t go with the expensive French country decor you’ve got going on in the rest of your house. If you love the pretty doily bunting you saw in some woman’s Instagram feed, replicate the pretty doily bunting you saw in some woman’s Instagram feed and don’t for one hot second feel like a copycat with no strong identity. You love the pretty doily bunting. She obviously loves the pretty doily bunting. She is just one awesome lady who clearly has the same awesome taste as you.
Perhaps we’re all – every single one of us – simply a collection of the people we’ve known and the people we’ve seen. We gather the good stuff they inspire within us, and we discard the traits in them we dislike. Maybe that’s who we are. Maybe, in the end, we are all just bits of each other.
I like that thought.
So, the flower-painted 1950’s trailer adventure. It’s been added to my life’s bucket list. Joel agrees to these kinds of things because he is as easily inspired as I am. In the meantime, I’ve grasped hold of the inspiration this trailer-travelling woman has poured into me and created a little shrine at our front door. A part of her I carry as part of me – the part who isn’t afraid to dream big, exist outside the norm and above all, follow her heart.
Friday Photo Dump…the small happies of my Instagram week. (theredtent if you want to follow the feed.)
best ever thrift shop find :: show day holiday :: morning cuddles :: Offspring season finale :: paintin’ :; girls day out