I haven’t seen the movie yet but I understand the premise of the movie; a lot of folks living a cheaply as possible, usually out of cars and vans, their struggles and their lives. What I have seen are some of the quotes from folks like Bob Wells, the sort of unofficial spokesperson for van life.
A couple of the quotes I have seen attributed to Bob Wells are powerful, and make so much sense.
THE AMERICAN DREAM IS BROKEN:
“From a young age, people in the Western world are taught that living a “quality life” means getting a job, raising a family, buying successively bigger houses, and working most of your life to enjoy retirement in your final decades. That’s a quality life, that’s what we’re told. And that’s just one great, big, enormous lie.”
-Bob Wells (Source: CBC Interview)
This resonates with me and goes to a post I made a while back about breaking your default programming
. It can be hard to move against the herd. People don’t like to be told that they are wrong but they are!
In fact Cat wrote about this over a decade ago
, so this is not big news! The whole concept illustrated above is underpinned by the lifestyle that was prevalent decades ago where a man (white of course) could get a job in a local factory, be there for 40 years, support a wife and children, purchase a home, have a dog etc. Life is not like any more and hasn’t been for quite some time.
Sadly the research shows that if we try to maintain the lifestyle above, the stress will literally kill us. This dream is not only broken but can kill us; its plain dangerous! So what do we do?
We need to be more mobile, plan for our own retirements, and plan our own lives. The pursuit of happiness is one of our core goals (at least in the US but I think most people have this unspoken goal) and yet we ignore it, we put it to one side and bow to our corporate overlords.
But there is hope, and this movie (and the FIRE movie) prove that; there are people out there rejecting this broken American dream in larger and larger numbers. I think the van living and FIRE movements, along with the change in working hours/flexibility being demanded post pandemic are indicative of a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a drive towards a better lifestyle in general.
Another quote that also rings true with me is this:
“You’re going to give away the 60 best prime years of your life for the 20 poorest years of your health.”
I am trying very hard not to let that happen to Cat and I. To be frank though, we started this journey very late in life having trudged along for years just like everyone else; hoping that in our dotage we would be able to afford the good cat food. It makes me sad that I am still working, knowing that if I had planned correctly, both Cat and I could be retired already and living our best lives. But, we are working a plan and we are, if nothing else off the paycheck to paycheck treadmill, and in a place of financial security. I cannot tell you how much stress that removes from life. But the crux of the matter is that for just a while longer, we are still giving away our time to the man, and that sucks but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.