Today’s message is from our elders. They say Live with no Regrets! I am absolutely intrigued by an interview I heard on NPR, driving from somewhere in WV to Louisville, KY. The man’s name was Karl Pillemar and he was discussing this book that he wrote after a chance meeting with a “remarkable 90 year old woman”. As a renowned gerontologist, he decided to find out what older people know about life that the rest of us don’t.
Table of Contents
What’s The Number One Regret of Elderly Americans
He spoke with 1,000 Americans over the age of 65, many of whom lived through the Depression and WWII! The interview caught my attention when Pillemar began speaking of regrets – the elders he spoke with unanimously said they wished they’d traveled more! No lie! He said they spoke of spending money on experiences not on things. “OMGsh”, I thought, “What? That’s incredible!!” He went on to say one woman he interviewed said if it’s between a kitchen remodel and a trip, “take the trip.”
Why Travel Brings Depth to Life
These elderly Americans unanimously endorsed travel at the sacrifice of all other things! Why? Well, travel broadens your horizons, it opens your heart, it brings you closer to the people of the world. It most certainly brings you closer to the people you travel with. Experiencing the same awe, helping each other, relying on each other in unfamiliar environments … it’s a bonding experience unlike any other.
I’ve personally never met a single person who says they wish they hadn’t travelled. I’ve met countless people who have said they wished they let their house be messy and spent more time with their children. I’ve met innumerable people who have expressed regret that they never left their state, or travelled abroad. People who expressed sorrow at the fact that they worked their lives away. In fact, every single person who hears our story eventually tells me they “wish” they could do what we are doing … live a life of travel and adventure and fun … but for XYZ, they can’t.
What Stops Us From Living Our American Dream?
Worry, Fear. And all those “buts”. Everyone has a “but”. Ours was always money, followed by the kids and their education and social experiences. We convinced ourselves we couldn’t give our kids the luxury of living an alternate lifestyle. Truth is we were scared to stray from the norm, the tried, but not quite true. How blessed we were to come to the realization that we could at least try, ya know? I mean, what harm could a mere 1-year cause?
As it turned out it was nothing short of phenomenal for our family. By phenomenal, I don’t mean easy, nothing good and worthy is ever easy, but I mean outstanding for our solidarity as a family. So phenomenal, in fact, we continued on for 6 more years!
Rough Patches in the Quest for an Extraordinary Life
Most of us see a beautiful life as one without hardship, without altercation, a life without hills and bumps. But there is no such thing. Life is a series of ups and downs, joys and sorrows. Our life in the RV accentuated every emotion. When we were high, life was glorious and we couldn’t see living any other way. But, when we were down, selfishness took over and we catapulted into anger and blamed every one of us, except ourselves. I remember a time in Cleveland, TN, Coby was a baby and I was packing a suitcase because I was flying home. So Dramatic. So. So Dramatic.
But these moments of doubt and fury, hurt and hopelessness eventually ignited change, inviting love, both sacrificial and receipt. We were humbled and exalted by our actions and the actions of one another. I can’t look back on those 7 years without anything but great gratitude. We learned to suffer well and to support each other in that suffering. What a gift! We came out on the other side knowing that, without a doubt, our family was tight as thieves.
Anybody Can Do This? NOT!
I used to be of the mindset that fulltime travel was something everyone could achieve and thrive doing. I mean, what’s not fun about being wherever you want whenever you want, doing whatever you want? Turns out, a lot. It’s more difficult for families than it is for couples, that’s for darn sure.
- No Privacy
- No Downtime
- No Escape from People When You are Mad
- Travel Time … it’s not about the journey, don’t believe that BS.
- Cooking for more than 4 is a nightmare in an RV
- Lots of wear and tear on an RV, they aren’t meant to be fulltime abodes
- Difficult to Work when Traveling
- No dedicated office space, hard to find quiet to focus on working
- WiFi is a bonafide nightmare if you leave the city – You have to find ways to stay connected.
- Dumping and filling up with water SUCKS!
- RV fridges (unless you buy a Newmar or an in kind RV) are stupid small – daily shopping for meals is a drag
- Weather is more of a threat in an RV – must watch weather apps
- Temperature Regulation is tough. In cooler weather, it’s hard to stay warm and in hotter weather, it’s difficult to stay cool.
- Campgrounds are over-crowded, private campgrounds are exorbitantly $$ and tight, State parks fill up fast.
- Laundry – it gets done all at once, but it’s a big inconvenience to go to a laundry!
- No gardening – it’s tough to not have fresh basil or tomatoes at will
- Water pressure is crap, so hard to wash dishes
- Doctors, Dentists, etc. Life hack – Amwell.com
- Pets in an RV is such a hassle.
- Bedtime happens at the same time for everyone, little and bigs and mom and dad
I could go on and on, but most of the hassles would be specific to our RV, and no-one fulltime travels in an RV like ours, unless you are broke ass poor and want to travel and see the country like you have money. We traveled like gypsies. Happy, excited, youthful, dreamy, if grungy gypsies.
Worry (and Fear)
I’ve strayed a bit, but that’s life and writing with ADHD! Ha! I’ve learned to embrace it — there I go again. We were originally talking about regret. Which leads me to the 2nd most surprising regret mentioned by the elders … worry. These wise, been there, done ALL that, Americans said they wished they hadn’t spent so much of their lives worrying. In fact they stated that if they had one single do-over in life, they would want all the time they spent worrying back. Amazing! Think about that.
As a mom, I worry incessantly. I worry about my kids’ health, their safety, their faithfulness, their future, their present, their aspirations, dreams … there isn’t one part of their lives that I don’t cast some amount of worry on. I wake up in the middle of the night hyper focused on one of them and fret. And, I know it does no good, after all the Bible mentions worry 34 times in the Bible. And the word “fear”? How many times do you think that is mentioned? 365 times! That’s serious business, and insightful. Worry is nothing but fear personified. I worry because I fear the end result.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
No-one is perfect, God knows this. Which is why He has encouraged us against fear throughout the Bible. Beginning in the book of Genesis and continuing throughout the book of Revelation, God reminds us to “Fear not.” Have faith. Trust in Him. His way is the right way. But, having experienced loss via miscarriage, multiple times, it’s hard, if not impossible, to reconcile that pain. So we worry and fear.
But, we also know that worry and fear do absolutely no good. We can’t worry away tragedy or war or loss or pain. We can’t worry joy, and love and peace into our lives either. It’s worthless energy expended and much better used to DO good. To create memories and a legacy with those you love, because no matter how much time we have, it’s never enough.
Stop worrying, stop living in fear and live your life like there is no tomorrow! The advice from the ones who have live long and full lives! No regrets!