Before our trip to Mexico we spent 3 weeks in the USA where we picked up our old Californian van. During this time we received many ‘warnings’ from the Americans. Neither of us could deny that the horror stories and concerns hadn’t left a small imprint of anxiety, but ultimately it was all part of the adventure and we were excited! During our 4 weeks in Mexico we drove 2000 miles starting at the Tijuana boarder, down the Baja Peninsula, caught the over night ferry to Mazatlán, drove down to Puerto Vallarta and then drove back up the west coast to the Arizona boarder.
The Mexicans we met along the way including the heavily armed military, police and truckers were nothing but pleasant and if anything went out of their way to try and help us. They are incredibly hard workers but equally know how to enjoy themselves. Their focus in live is their family, food and love, much like the Italians and the Spanish.
Although poverty is apparent in Mexico, the simplicity and pride that they live with creates a vibrant and endearing atmosphere. They smile and laugh and public displays of affection are as common as road rage over here. They appreciate each day and enjoy the simple pleasures in life
Through my travels I have discovered I am at my happiest in simple, vibrant environments where there human nature and everyday life is based on pleasure and love rather than commodity, consumerism and conformity. Unfortunately, countries that live with such simplicity often do so due to poverty and lack of choice.
However, here we are in a developed, first world country blessed with the conveyor belt of school, university, career, marriage, children, repeat.
Plagued by societies expectations to conform and measure our achievements, we identify ourselves through which car we have and how high up the ‘career ladder’ or ‘housing ladder’ we are.
Mental illness such as depression and anxiety affects 1 in 4 people in this country and that is just the reported figures (Mind, 2013). Our human brain has actually shrunk over the last 100 years due to our poor western diet of processed junk produced to feed our every growing and uncontainable population, that’s far to busy grinding on the treadmill to even consider the importance of what we put into our bodies.
I’m not saying it is wrong to have a career, a mortgage, children, some of my best friends have all three and could not be happier. What I’m saying is that for those who are unsure , who find themselves floating from one of society’s mile stones to the next, its important to be self aware and know that the decisions you make are YOURS and not the governments! If you wake up everyday feeling anxious, stressed, miserable, then that’s a sign something needs to change, don’t listen to people that say ‘That is just life’. It does not have to be. Life is for living, you just have to decide what living means to you!
I went to university twice, I travelled and I worked and quit innumerable jobs. People would say ‘Classic Lauren, never sticks to anything.’ And they were right. For years I felt like such a failure until I realised, I need to embrace that very fact. I don’t want to stick to any one thing. I want to live a life of freedom and change, I don’t want a 5 year plan or a career path, I want to NOT KNOW what or where I might be from one year to the next. When I left university as a qualified psychiatric nurse I felt it stronger than ever. through what I had learnt through my training and, placements and first year of post-grad working, I realised the reasons for the majority of mental health problems were in fact rooted in society and the Western world itself. This was just my personal opinion but I was so passionate about it I couldn’t do the job or live the life I just didn’t believe in anymore.
Although many of my friends and family felt anxious for me after all my hard work, especially considering my degree was the first thing I had actually stuck to and complete in my life, they were used to my nature often referring to me as ‘scatty, gypsy or hippie’. They supported me. And although we live completely different lives and want different things from life we embrace and support each other.
On my first date with my boyfriend he asked me if I wanted a job as a barista as he had bought a scrap airstream that he planned on turning into an airstream coffee shop. I jokingly said yes. That was three years ago and we have since spent the summers traveling around the country to festivals and events selling coffee (www.thebeanmachinecafe.com) and spending our winters travelling in warmer climates, paying particular attention to cultures, lifestyles and nutrition. We live in a Showman’s caravan and grow our own vegetables. My partner happens to be a genuine Romany gypsy. We live as close to nature as we possibly can. We even had a pet crow, which we rescued, for nearly two years until he took flight and found his own kind. He used to sit next to us indoors and hassle you until you stroked him to sleep, hi head dropping closer and closer into his chest.
It took me years and many failed attempts to get to where I am, and where I am would be most peoples worst nightmare. But to those who feel they just don’t fit in or can’t find happiness in this western world, before you enrol on that degree, or sign up for that mortgage or make any kind of life changing commitment, just really, REALLY ask yourself; ‘am I happy?’ If you knew you would die in ten years would you still make the same choices? We have one life and nothing to lose, because we take nothing with us.