In school, we were taught about the migratory patterns of animals—south for the winter, north for the summer, etc. What we were not taught was that animals are not the only migratory inhabitants of Earth.
Little-known for its migratory nature, the rental car also heads for more temperate climates in the fall and spring each year in search of more frequent renters. Unlike most migratory species, though, the rental car is unable to migrate without a driver.
This is where we come in.
At the right time of the season, we can enter into a symbiotic relationship with a rental car and drive from one climate to another, at little cost to us. This gets a rental car where it wants to go, and gives us an abnormally inexpensive opportunity to fulfill our great American road trip dreams.
The average US citizen spends 2.8 hours per day watching TV.
Over an 80 year lifespan, that amounts to 9.3 years of passively staring at a screen.
In comparison, we spend 1.6 years in school (K-12) and 10.3 years of our lives working.
Confronted with these figures, I saw a huge waste of time and an opportunity. There were much better ways to spend more than 10% of my life than passively staring at a screen. Two years ago, when I published that article, I cut all watching out of my life entirely: I stopped watching television, movies, YouTube... everything.
As someone who writes about full, vibrant living, you'd be surprised by how often I think about death. A decade ago, a mosquito bite nearly killed me, and since, the thought of death has yet to escape my head.
At first, this dark thought was maintained by the shock of how close I had ventured to life's edge. However, I began stumbling upon benefits of having the thought of death in mind. Benefits in big ways: realizing the future was more of a question mark than a guarantee, I placed more value in the present. And smaller ways: death's consideration made public speaking less intimidating. After nearly a decade of toying with the thought of death and its various surprising effects, it recently dawned on me: remembering that you are going to die is the ultimate catalyst for a better life.
I found myself frustrated and stuck in Las Cruces, New Mexico last week.
Due to our federal government shutdown, I was locked out of White Sands National Monument and driving down to Big Bend National Park wasn't any more promising. Congress appeared gridlocked. The weather was uncharacteristically cold and gusty—and when I say gusty—I mean blow the lid of your peanut butter jar away at fifty miles per hour while you're making a PB&J kind of gusty.
It took almost a month, but I have finished converting my Honda Element into a tiny home on wheels!
As someone who works seasonally and uses the majority of their year to travel, read, and write, the nomadic "van life" has always appealed to me. With no rent to pay, the ability to move home anywhere at any time, and the resulting focus of such minimalism, I intend my near future to be a rare combination of adventure and productivity.
A couple weeks ago, I finished converting my Honda Element into the world's tiniest home on wheels. As a dude who travels with little interior design experience, the conversion came out better than I could have imagined.
One of the main features that took my Element from livable to friggin' sweet are its patterned fabric blackout windows. Made with a shiny, insulating material called Reflectix, most projects using this material end up feel like the inside of a low budget spaceship. I wanted a more homey, bright look to my space that didn't feel quite so shoddy or depressing. Patterned fabric, adhesive spray, and black duct tape proved the perfect solution.
In addition to looking great on the inside, these window shades blackout virtually all outside light. They also make it impossible to see into my Element, so I can comfortably sleep, with complete privacy, anywhere I'm allowed to park.
We've been taught that the good life is found in comfort—in luxury, in relaxation, and in doing as little as possible. Those best living the American Dream have the constant experience of the highest comfort with butlers, drivers, cooks, maids, secretaries, and assistants to anticipate their every want and need. At that pinnacle of comfort, one shouldn't have to do so much as lift a finger, every desire as satiated as possible in every moment.
Is constant comfort, ease, and luxury the real pinnacle of human experience, though? The rightful aim of the western world?
I don't think so. In fact, I've increasingly come to see comfort as false gratification, as the wrong target most are unknowingly aimed at.