To Alli on July 31, 2022
I’m writing to you from April 19th. You’ve probably already compressed all of these weeks, and even months leading up to the Mobile Art Studio adventure into a wad of tightly packed and long-forgotten anxiety.
I realized it doesn’t fully have to be like this. “This” as in, so stressful. Late last week, Wes and I were walking home in the bright, cool sunshine of early April after dropping off (newly named!) Brian the Beast the F350 at our mechanics. They just live a mile away from us and it’s a nice excuse to get to walk to or from the car, depending on what side of repairs we’re on. Pioneer Peak looms hulking and snow-blue at an incredible height above our neighborhood. I’ve seen it so consistently in the past few years that I have to remind myself of its grandeur.
I’d been worried that the necessary repairs on Brian would delay my departure date, throwing another monkey wrench into my plan. It turned out I had nothing to worry about: we set a date to get the repairs done and the vehicle returned in less than a week. I felt a huge sense of relief.
Yet, as Wes and I walked away and the stress around our vehicle repair timing slipped away, I could feel myself trying to root around for something else to fret about. It was the mental equivalent of tonguing a cavity or itching a bug bite – I was just searching to verify the stress was still there, and seeing if I could goad it to come back even further.
I’m used to it. Is stress a friend? Not really, but it’s a familiar companion. I’m a creature of habit who craves comfort, and finding something to stress over is another way to trick myself into thinking I am safe from all the unknowns and wild cards of life. Perversely, excessive worry makes me think I have control.
Which, I do. But I have control over my perspective, not my external surroundings. Stress, worry, and over-planning are insidious in that they provide me the illusion and comfort of thinking I’m making my life better, when in fact they’re a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I am constantly a spinning wheel of stress over nudging and pushing pieces in place where I want them to fall and fretting over what happens if they don’t, then instead of making conditions where I enjoy and inhabit my life to its fullest (the carrot I goad myself along with, telling myself the stress is worth it to get “there”) I’m crushing my own spirit.
There’s no “THERE”. There is here. Here I am right now writing to you in the future, and there you’ll be – a slightly newer, grown, more experienced version of me, who is also “here” in reading this.
So very meta.
Here’s my “reminiscing into the future” articulation of some things I hope you (I!) have experienced:
- A breeze and sagebrush smell under a shaded awning during a hot desert afternoon. Icy beverage and an easel out, painting.
- Waking up somewhere new and looking out the window and pinching myself. Drinking coffee on a camp chair outside as I slowly wake up.
- Working on a full-sized commission on a cloudy, warm day – backing up from the easel to take in the full scope, zooming back in to keep working on it.
- Running from my campsite. Hiking from my campsite. Walking from my campsite. Swimming from my campsite. Coming back to the trailer dusty and sweaty to shower, change, eat, and pivot toward whatever the rest of the day has in store.
- The excitement and scary unknown of the open road and driving, slowly and relaxed, from one known locale to a new place.
- Sharing the adventure with family and friends along the way, from road-tripping, to rendezvous, events, coworking, and simple day to day activities of life.
- Getting excited about and cooking dinner; drinking tres agaves margaritas (my favorite mix).
- Friends joining to camp. Building fires and playing music under starry skies. Talking about anything we want, for as long as we want.
- Sitting at the table in the Airstream and focusing on work; taking video calls or working on projects.
- Meeting people and getting to know them; making new connections.
- Finding new opportunities with art! New painting ideas, projects, sales, ideas for the future.
The overarching feeling I hope for is excitement, joy, and connection throughout the days, with that healthy dose of awe. I’m going to need to slow myself down, by necessity and by design. I’m not going to be hauling 19’ of trailer anywhere quickly, and especially not in Brian the Beast. If I want to stop and breathe, take in the view, immerse myself where I am? That’s going to take even longer. In advance, I’m telling myself: that’s okay. That’s more than okay! That’s the point.
I hope this trip isn’t a one-off; that this is truly a pivot into something different – a new way of seeing the world, of having confidence in yourself, and continuing to inhabit your life even while you push to grow it. Confidence is the antidote to stress, because it tells me I am up for, can cope with, and even learn to thrive within whatever life throws my way.
Confidence is not a boisterous, external state for me. It’s a quiet, deep presence and openness.
I also sincerely hope in retrospect that this time that I am writing to you from is, indeed, one of the biggest buckle down and push phases of life you (we) experience because the view from here is towering, let me tell you. And I’m trying to remind you – me – us – of the overall big picture purpose of this adventure so that we can fully inhabit it the way we dreamed.
Love into the future from the past and everything in between and from here on out.