Labor Day weekend 2015 has come and gone from our post here in Maine. Campgrounds are mostly empty now. Those still in the vicinity are retired and travel full time or are finishing off their “leaf-peeping” activities. The rest are seasonal campers, waiting until the cold sets in to ready their campers for winter as campgrounds will close by Columbus Day. Maine — and the rest of New England — brace themselves for their long and intense winter nap. As for the rest of the world, the days of labor and school have returned. Ready, set, off they go. So, for us, the atmosphere is now constantly peaceful and quiet: The road is ours and the song remains the same. We are doing things as destiny would have it — living, loving, working, traveling and living tiny on our own time. We are very free.
I admit that I missed the county fair that we attended annually in our pre-nomad life. It’s kind of how I have felt over the years about missing autumn in Scottsdale when we moved back to the Midwest: Windows and doors open up there and everyone comes out of hiding from the heat. It’s not too hot, nor too cold, just like everywhere else basically, and life is good for awhile before mostly-darkness becomes the norm. A wonderful time. Other than that, I haven’t missed anything else at all on this journey; none of us have. In fact, to my surprise, my heart hurt a little as summer came to a close and folks had to turn their backs on the things that brought them joy — or relief. I heard lots of parents say to their kids, “You still owe me twenty minutes of reading!” or something about school clothes as the kid went off on a scooter or to the pool or grabbed another marshmallow, while the parents went for another bag of chips or returned to their device or book or beer, wanting to mean what they said, seriously intending on enforcing it, but also hoping to squeeze as much time out of summer as their kids before returning to organized chaos.
In other words, the pre-school vibratory energy shimmies faster than a steaming tea kettle on its way to a whistle. The intensity is palpable. Lots of fear, worry and stress — general positive and/or negative anticipation — enter into the picture for parents, teachers and students. I am very relieved that this picture is not painted by us. Far from this routine, Scot, Luna and I are finding that this way of life, this path of tiny living, travel and creative learning/unschooling, flows with our natural cycles and encourages a yogic-type union of togetherness, not separateness, as I feel school does. It is very normal to us. It is a way of life — our way of life.
Scot calls it natural or creative learning. I still am inclined to call it radical unschooling as well. No matter what, we are not-schooling and, therefore, not doing anything else that revolves around the energy-sucking, don’t-think-for-yourself routine of school, including a set curriculum. But it is more than that, and, really, has nothing to do with school at all. What we are doing with Luna and for ourselves is truly about the whole family and is an un-doing of sorts, the unraveling of a rote, inculturated belief system that assumes a lot about future success, security, happiness, whatever. It’s imply not true. We see it. We are living it. The path to freedom and happiness is not a script. It is as created, sculpted and maintained as anything else that one holds dear to his or her heart. For us, the path to freedom is not doing what is expected of us. It is about following our hearts and letting love rule. It is about cultivating and maintaining peace in our lives, like it is our job, literally. It is about putting our relationships with each other first, trumping hierarchy or expectation or authority. It is something we take very, very seriously and that we do very, very well. We practice.
So it is difficult to see or hear others continue to try to work with a system that inherently takes energy, not gives; that creates stress, not relieves it; and that relies on conformity, ready or not, so that the assembly line of education can hum along without questions. That’s all. Like I said, it makes my heart hurt a bit. And it is just my opinion.
Because what we do is amazing. It really is. One thing leads to another. We stay a little longer or we go. There are rainy day discoveries or ones on sunny days. There are ocean fish and lake fish. There is funghi of all kind, and animals in all settings. Trees evolve in their respective territories and climates. The clock and the calendar mean little to us; we often do not know what either of them say (“I don’t feel tardy.”). We are ambitious and restful. We wake up with the sun, or when we need to, and we go to bed when we are ready. Snuggles get to happen often without pressure to be somewhere else, or on time. We talk a lot and we ask a lot of questions. We listen to each other and to a lot of music. There is little to no TV; we simply are disinterested in it, particularly commercials and the news. We each have our own endeavors and share with each other often. We hike, we walk, we play. The days and evenings are ours and of our own choosing. No one else has claim to them — no homework, conferences, appointments, standard operating procedures. We are out to impress no one, and focus on helping each other. We investigate, we sing, we wonder. Mindfulness matters here, which takes time, so we make time, putting each other first, Luna especially. The song remains the same and grows stronger each day.
Which makes the road wide open. At the beginning of this trip, we thought that we’d travel for about a year-and-a-half. Now we know that there is no end in sight. We still have the rest of the country to discover, Canada, Alaska, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Norway, England, Argentina, India … If anything, there is a very tiny, itty-bitty house in our future, or a slightly larger travel trailer, but when and where we do not know. We just know that we won’t be back around north or northeast for a very long time, so we are intensely pseudo-Mainers for the month of September. While everyone else goes to school, we will head to the forest or ocean, or south.
When other kids learn that Luna does not go to school, there are mixed responses. Some kids say, “Cool! I wish I didn’t have to go to school.” Some kids say nothing, like it hurts, or it’s just what they do; they don’t have a choice, so they’re used to it. Time to make the doughnuts. Some kids like sports or their teachers. Most surprisingly, though, it’s the faces they make, as though they are considering all of the things that they would do — could do — if they didn’t have to go to school. Uninterruption of the practicing of or playing with what bring them joy and learning. Unhindered flow. Nothing lazy or disrespectful about it, just a new way of thinking. It’s fascinating. I like to talk to those kids. Teachers and other, older full time RVers also seem to really get the natural learning thing. Not a blink of an eye, but rather, “Well, of course.”
Luna has become a very strong swimmer over the summer; the water is a natural setting for her. She also loves to run uphill on hikes and sweat through a long scooter run. She has taken a keen interest in rock hopping and climbing. She is learning to create, construct, read, spell, add and subtract through Minecraft, as well as to write code. Her current favorite movie is Amélie and she still loves Gorillaz, especially “Stylo (“#5”), Red Hot Chili Peppers and AC/DC. She collects wood in the forest with Scot and leaves and flowers for me. She mimics bird calls and is learning lots about tides, the moon and space, and how to build fires; she knows that they are important to Scot. She is pretty good at yoga and occasionally practices meditation; she knows that they are important to me. She is a great traveler, because she is patient and open-minded. I anticipate many tattoos in her future and more blue hair, although I doubt she will be pierced. Bare feet are in her future, too, and any place that she won’t have to wear lots of clothing. She is cool with not having a lot of stuff. Travel enables her to meet all kinds of people all of the time, at any time and she can snuff out a kindred spirit. She engages in whatever she needs to for as long as she needs to do so, until her mind is full or satisfied, or until she is hungry or has to pee, or cabin fever sets in; we give her the space to do so. It is of great interest to us to see what brings her joy and stimulates her on her terms. She is more aware of what brings her parents joy now, too. We don’t stress out about what we can’t do, but rather appreciate all that we can do. Our life of togetherness is one constant dialogue without outside influence, which helps a lot. We are abundant. And grateful.
So we are not homeschooling, because that implies that we have brought curriculum into the camper, which we have not. And homework refers to our taking care of the rig, not doing more school work after school. There are no chores, just helpful activities that benefit one another. We trust and respect and have faith in the natural course of things and Luna’s abilities. We do not act separately, but together. Our hearts are full.
All I know is that long ago, learning was available only to a chosen few, like aristocrats, white folks. As learning became something that more people wanted — basically everyone else — the folks that already had access to it went elsewhere, which I believe is fair to say still happens. Then learning became controlled and somewhat against nature. Now, we beg for better education across the board, but it is wholly unbalanced and uneven socioeconomically, unfair to teachers and to students especially generally, stifling creativity. Square pegs, round holes. We prefer a way of life with a more natural fit, something that is tailored or suited to us, for us and by us. The deeper we go, the more sense it makes to us and for the world.
Because there are no guarantees and we can only control what we can control. So why not take control if you can?
Besides, learning happens all of the time. There is no on/off switch. No bribery or cajoling needed.
School’s out for summer. School’s out forever.
Tiny living and travel and natural learning. For us, mindfulness matters and the road is wide open. Life is untethered. For us, the song remains the same.
I had a dream. Crazy dream.
Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go
Hear my song. People won’t you listen now? Sing along.
You don’t know what you’re missing now.
Any little song that you know
Everything that’s small has to grow.
And it has to grow!
California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu Starbright – the song remains the same.
Sing out Hare Hare, dance the Hoochie Koo.
City lights are oh so bright, as we go sliding… sliding… sliding through.
“The Song Remains the Same,” Led Zeppilin, 1972