In a quest for freedom, Shari and Hutch quit their jobs in higher education to travel the U.S. in a 1957 canned ham camper trailer. I saw them speak at Champlain College about their new life. It’s the kind of talk where people leave the room convinced that they will sell their things and take to the road immediately.

Then they get home. They sink into their couch and that energy fades into a corner of their minds that thinks, “That would be cool…someday.”

It’s not because people are lazy that they don’t go out and buy a trailer. It’s because their version of freedom doesn’t look the same as Shari and Hutch’s.

I attended this presentation with some friends who are house hunting. Following the talk, my friend turned to me and said, “I don’t want to buy a house anymore.”

I could feel her energy leaning that way over the course of the hour. Shari and Hutch talked about weightlessness and freedom on the open road. They showed us photos from national parks and mountain summits. You could almost taste the fresh air.

They also showed us before photos of their three-bedroom home and a basement filled with stuff. “You grow into your space,” they said. It’s no wonder my friends were second-guessing their decision to buy a house. I was second-guessing mine.

Jordan and I welcome this exercise. It gives us the chance to check in with our situation every now and again to make sure we’re still living life in the way that’s most fulfilling for us. Sometimes we find that we’re right where we want to be— and that’s a nice confirmation of our choices. Other times we’re reminded that it’s probably time for a change. That’s ultimately what it means to live life on your own terms—having the freedom to make decisions every day that make you happy.

Those decisions are different for everyone. My friend’s desires to buy a house but to also feel lighter were both very real. She was torn because she thought she had to choose between the two. It took some reflection to realize that it didn’t just come down to two choices. Her version of freedom is different from Hutch and Shari’s and it’s different from Jordan’s and mine.

Stories like Hutch and Shari’s are meant to inspire people—provide real life case studies that prove it can be done. But ultimately, everyone chooses their own path. My friend’s story won’t necessarily involve a 1950s canned ham camper trailer but it will provide the same lightness of being. Because she and her husband will make a conscious decision to live life on their own terms. That’s where the weightlessness comes from. Sure it helps to lighten the load physically but most of the burden that weighs us down is actually in our minds.

Before Jordan and I set out on our own adventure, a friend asked us what we saw when we closed our eyes and thought about our upcoming trip. We liked this exercise so much that we’ve applied it to every crossroads we’ve been at since then. The vision changes but the theme is always the same. It’s us, living the life we imagine.

As long as you’re doing that, it doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking around the world, driving a camper around the U.S., or stopping in one place to soak in the scenery for a while. The point is to find your own version of lightness, your own brand of freedom.

It’s your turn…

Close your eyes. What do you see?

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