Lately I’ve been pondering the value of belonging to a tribe and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s important to find some assimilated to your passions. Belonging to a tribe that fits your mold and personal beliefs is more than just a fun place to hang out and share ideas, rather it’s like a family that is there to lift you up and encourage you to grow - even on the desolate days. A tribe founded upon passions, personal interests, and a grander vision can be the key an individual needs to unlock the next aspect of life - leading to fuller more balanced lifestyle.
If you’re over the age of 25 and have no “family issues” count your blessings, you’re part of the minority. For the rest of you, like myself; you probably have an aspect of your family that you wish were existent, or at least better. I believe we exist as a unified family, belonging to many tribes throughout the differing seasons of our journey. As we go about our path experiencing life and aging along we join new tribes and say good bye to others, taking with us memories to shape our new stories. Tribes like family overlap the varying people we’ve allowed into our life, and it’s the culmination of them that affects our quality of living.The people you surround yourself with will either raise you up or tear you down - there’s always a choice.
Last night I slept in Millbrae, California so I could be close to the Vanabonders meet up in Foster City at the park. The low flying airplanes from nearby SFO shook the van while cruising over the Holiday Inn parking lot where I resided. After waking up around 7AM I got out of the hammock, rolled it up, struggled to find the sleeping bag compression sack, and then went to a nearby Starbucks to use the restroom and grab a coffee. Normally avoiding Starbucks for smaller locally owned coffee shops but when nature calls - she calls.
The Vanabond brunch was extremely enjoyable, insightful, and inspiring. Roughly 15-20 of us gathered to show off our rigs, share stories, break bread, and refill our social power-meters to full capacity. I showed up around 10am with a few bags of apples, carrots, and an excited curiosity. During my vandwelling experience I’ve learned to enjoy my quiet time in the van but have also found that without community life tends to be dull. Now that I’m living 2,500 miles away from my close family and friends I’ve had to relearn how to build relationships from scratch - finding my tribe.
Since moving back to California in August I’ve surrounded myself with some incredible individuals. I’ve created a tribe at the coffee shop I work at and have befriended some of the worlds most amazing people (my opinion obviously); such as, a friend who has taught me a tremendous amount about being a man. Through keen observation I’ve seen this man spoil the people around him, love his wife and daughter like any lucky lady should be loved, and show up everyday with a smile on his face - this friend is a blind sponsored Mountain Bike rider who has faced more obstacles in his lifetime than many of us could ever dream about, yet he is the one man I can always count on to have a smile on his face, to provide me with honest feedback, and help kick me in the butt when needed. I also consider my boss Greg to be the kindest man I’ve ever had the opportunity of meeting - constantly giving of himself while creating a wake of compassion in his efforts. Living in a van wouldn’t be the same without these guys!
Are you familiar with the name Mort Sahl? He’s an 89 year old man; a friend, and the father of political satire humor. Mort used to write the speeches for President Kennedy before he was assassinated, and has told me stories about the days when he lived with Frank Sinatra, or how he was the first man besides Hugh Hefner to live in the Playboy Mansion with 35 beautiful playmates. There’s also my friend Monica who I’ve befriended while living out here. She ironically grew up 6 miles away from me and was coached by my Aunt in high school. She too is one of the kind souls making my van-dwelling experience much easier with her openness to allow me to use her laundry, crash on the couch, or simply hang when the quietness of the van gets to be a little too quiet.
I’m typing this post on my newly built desk, sitting behind a wall crafted to separate the drivers seat from the studio in the back. It took six months and the encouragement of a friend to pick up some tools and dare to get creative in my home on wheels. My friend Woolf is a black belt in jiu jitsu and co-owner of the Black Sheep Jiu Jitsu school in Fairfax. Woolf has been living in his RV for a little longer than I’ve been in the van. Last week before a wrestling workout he stopped by my home outside the gym and ragged on me for living in the van six months without making it more homely. He gave me a tapestry to hang on the ceiling and the next day we built the wall. Woolf’s partner Danny is another guy I feel proud to have in my tribe. These gents have gone out of their way to help pull me back into wrestling and I couldn’t be more thankful.
There are too many tribal members in my clan to mention everyone: spanning all demographics, race, religions, age, and gender. The point I want to leave you with is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a member of the green tribe, the red tribe, or banana tribe; as long as you’re involved in a tribe that feeds your creative spirit and helps you become better rather than bitter, you’re well on your way! If you feel bad about yourself and your situation in life then I recommend figuring out who you’re spending the most time with: are they adding value to your life or dragging you down in the process? Once again, you always have a choice.