To Simplify... the pursuit of happiness through simple living on the open road

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Simple Living via Insane Projects

It may surprise some of you to hear this, but I'm really enjoying the simplicity of life these days. I know there is no shortage of people out there who see my ongoing Vanagon conversion project as horribly complex and not even remotely in keeping with the theme of the blog, but as I see it, the opposite is true.

I've been in a most pleasant groove lately, whereby I awake at a sensible hour, putter around the Chinook while waiting for the outside temperature to rise to a civilized number, jot down a list of van-related objectives for the day, throw on some ratty old clothes, and then commence to spending the afternoon inching ever closer to my ultimate vision. Once I reach the end of my to-do list, I wind down work for the day, enjoy a nice hot shower, and then spend the evening hours catching up on all that the van project is displacing from my life – working, socializing, running errands, etc. By about 11 o'clock, I'm exhausted, so settle in for the sleep of kings, warm with the sense of accomplishment that another solid day of progress brings, and excited to repeat the process come morning.

I am learning that there is nothing quite like a big, fat, beefy, and slightly insane project like this to focus one's mind, push out all the extraneous and unimportant concerns that modern life so often hampers us with, and leave one beaming with the sort of satisfaction and self-assuredness that comes from steady, daily progress towards a meaningful goal. If a general sense of waywardness is what ails you, I highly recommend seeking out such a project and hopping into it headfirst.

Warmer temperatures began to make their triumphant return today, and with more on the way, I wrapped up my bordering-on-creepy love affair with bed liner this afternoon. After finishing the third and final coat to the van's floor (see above), the rig's interior is now about as thoroughly protected as any man or toy camel could reasonably hope for. 

I also began experimenting with sound deadening material...

...and to utterly amazing effect. More on that in our next installment.


  1. Glenn,

    Has anyone actually said that the project conflicts with the value you place on simplicity? I don't see how they could. Building a house like you are doing is complex but the opposite of simplicity is not complexity, the opposite is the burden of overconsumption and having too much stuff.

    I love the blogs on the Vanagon and love the project.

    David in San Miguel

  2. I hardly find this project insane at all. I think keeping busy is always a good thing that keeps one perfectly sane. Now if you were to record tracks based on photos of the camel as you travel with one hoof stuck in a random piece of fruit. That would keep you busy and most likely insane.

  3. “This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” -Alan Wilson Watts

  4. To slightly change an old cigarette commercial slogan.
    He drove several miles for a camel. Sorry I just couldn't resist.;^)

    So is the camel the temporary navigator now?

  5. Is simplicity wisdom or is wisdom simplicity?!
    This is all good stuff!

  6. Great quote Brendan! Glenn. I think you have found the secret to happiness. After wandering, dare I say, aimlessly (you know, because you could) for awhile, soaking up the beauty of what was around the next bend, you now have a sense of purpose in a meaty project. Life is for living, whether driving down the road, or building a new home. You still go where you want to go and do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Simple pleasures I'd say.

  7. I'm loving every minute of it & hoping to follow in your footsteps one day!

  8. Maybe you could live a simple life while working at Ziebart.

  9. I think you have found your zen! Go with it and never question what feels right. I wish I could cultivate as much peace as you seem to have now. Cheers!

  10. Now you've got me confused. I agree that the ultimate in simplicity comes from being thoroughly engrossed in one big project. Carried to its limit, that means some kind of Obsession. (We needn't use the word in the usual pejorative sense.)

    But anybody could have an obsessive project in any way of life. What difference would it make how many possessions you have if you aren't paying any attention to them?

    So an ordinary cubicle rat, living in an ordinary house or apartment, with 10000 pieces of crap piled up in the closets and garage, could achieve the ultimate in simplicity by, say, being obsessed with work (or training for a marathon, or collecting stamps.)

    In that case, what is the point of your mobile lifestyle? And your Vanagon? Any lifestyle would do just as well.

    1. I did not mean to suggest that keeping one's mind engaged in the pursuit of meaningful goals is the *only* component of the simple life. It's just part of the entire picture. And there is nothing about living simply that necessitates that one also be mobile. The freedom to live nomadically is just an *option* that opens up once one pares down and learns to live comfortably in a small space. It is only one of many ways to live simply.

  11. Glenn, TASO here ... ran across this pic and thought of you. Look in center left at the round "canisters" :

    (its the 2nd pic from the bottom)

  12. I think that camel is cool and I like the Vanagan project to.

  13. Not that it makes all that much difference but the Camel you found is known as a Bactrian camel which is obviously the two-humped variety versus the more commonly recognized one-humped variety (Dromedary). Yes, a camel nonetheless. The more interesting thing is that it strongly appears that your find is overall the much more capable sojourner than its desert cousin. Description from Wikipedia: "These camels are migratory, and their habitat ranges from rocky mountain massifs to flat arid desert, stony plains and sand dunes. (Where)Conditions are extremely harsh – vegetation is sparse, water sources are limited and temperatures are extreme, ranging from as low as −40°C in winter to 40°C in summer." It certainly seems that what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. Perhaps it is also guiding you towards the name you might bestow on your new travel partner. I continue to follow your blog with great interest/enjoyment.

    Anon from AZ

  14. I've got to ask, at the risk of pissing off one of your advertisers, are you in love with the Herculiner product or is it another? I ask because I need to do my pickup bed and you seem to be having great results.

  15. You have the freedom to create your own routine and freedom to think, toil, experiment and move at will. I think freedom is one of the keys to simple living.

    I look forward to reading your discoveries about sound deadening materials.




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