How it feels to not need stuff

Ya know that feeling when your alarm goes off on the Monday morning after a great weekend? Perhaps you saw your best friends and laughed a lot at your favorite bar. Maybe you even left town and went on a day trip to see your friend who just had a baby, maybe you even left for the whole weekend, headed off to the coast and ate fish tacos. You probably saw the stars for the first time in a while, like really saw them, maybe you even skinned a knee. But you’re back home now, back in your bed, warm from the afterglow of the weekend and then….


(That’s my sound for an alarm)–such a mellow, respectful way to be soothed back into reality.

That’s what has been happening to me, too, but not just on Mondays and with an intensity that can only come from a four-month long vacation, as opposed to a weekend. And not just any vacation–the best of all vacations, doing the things I love, seeing the people I love.

Being as free as is possible, these days.

The transition into real life (and I’m by no means complaining about my “real life”–working at a climbing gym and yoga studios and living in an area that caters to all of the things I love to do is something I’m very grateful for)–has been a little rough.

Instead of reading only maps and climbing guides, I’m reading w2 forms and articles on how to better market yourself on Facebook. I’m practicing yoga in studios with teachers that just got back from Wanderlust, instead of rolling out my mat into the dirt and moving around for a half hour or so. I climb mostly in a gym, on plastic holds that some dude set up for me to follow, as opposed to looking up at a towering slab of solidified minerals and reading the line that’s been created from centuries of heat and wind and pressure and existence.

Instead of thinking, what do I want to do today, I look in my planner and see what I have to do to today.

And while the life I’m transitioning into is far more than most people have, and something that brings me happiness and fulfillment, it’s still a transition and it’s still hard. I really miss adventuring. I’ve felt a little off because of it.

Ya know what else I really miss? This dude named Alex who lives in Georgia. Climbing with him this summer in Kentucky and Wyoming was pretty much the best thing in the whole world.

So starts a life of sustained adventuring, of making money and being a (somewhat) functioning member of society while traveling and exploring and doing what I love. Balance. Because blowing all of my money was definitely worth it, but I can’t do that again. At least…not for a little while.

I’m practicing on that balance in one way through teaching yoga, which has been a whole other transition in itself. I always forget how weird the yoga community is, with all of these products and tips and festivals and articles and recipes and clothing. All of these things that you have to do in order to be happy, in order for your practice to work. I kind of feel like spilling the big secret–you don’t need any of that shit to practice yoga or to be happy. You don’t even need to practice yoga to be happy. Over the summer I let go of my practice a lot–I still did yoga, almost every day, but if I missed a few days or only did ten minutes it wasn’t something I felt guilty over. Yoga just became this thing that I did that felt really good and helped me fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning.

And, shocker–while living on the road, I obviously wasn’t drinking green smoothies, wearing lululemon, going to famous teacher’s classes, or burning sage in the back of my van–and I was still a really happy person. Happier than, I think, when I was doing all of that stuff (okay I’ve never burned sage in the back of my van, or anywhere). Or maybe it was just a different version of happy. I don’t know.

Some days my practice now is just a really long headstand or a standing backbend while I’m hiking. And my body still feels good, I haven’t slipped into some debilitating depression or gained 100 pounds because I’m not doing chatturanga or eating that much kale. The yoga world, in a really subconscious way, suggests that if you don’t practice or do all these things, you might get sad or sick or die. I’m done with that.

In fact, it took coming home and going through this transition to realize that I don’t really need anything to be happy, as cliche as that sounds. Wait, I take that back. I do need my family and my friends and good people. And my dogs. But I truly do believe that those are the only things that are necessary, and the only things that bring the kind of contentment that will really fill us up.

This transition has been about getting all of this “stuff” back. And realizing that the stuff, while sometimes fun and handy, isn’t needed. I don’t need the stuff. And that’s a good feeling.

Come to think of it, it feels a lot like I’m on the road, being as free as is possible these days.