My girlfriend and I recently decided to move on a plan we’d been throwing around for an age and bought ourselves a Ford Transit to build a camper van out of. Firstly, dial back on any mental images you might have of insta bloggers on MacBooks selling crystals and sage bundles from the back of a Volkswagen split screen. We are definitely more of the: sitting in the back in about 4 jumpers eating a curry chip and battered sausage types. But I guess what I’ve found in this van that I hadn’t expected to, beyond the obvious joys of having it for trips away, is the mental trips away I can have just by working on fixing up the smallest things on it. There’s such a mental escape in focusing all your attention onto something, knowing you want to do this one thing and nothing else for as long as that task might take. I spent a solid 3 hours on Christmas Eve wire brushing, washing out, and re-greasing the rollers on the side door and honestly, it was one of the most at ease moments my head had all Christmas.
As a project, we’re also finding it to be this amazing space that not only gives us an escape physically and mentally from whatever shit might be going on around us, but is also doing the same for our families too. It’s giving them something to be vicariously excited about which, at times like this, anything that helps is a bonus! My da sat in the van with me while I fitted a new flooring giving the experienced looks and nods and occasional pitched suggestions of, “maybe measure that again” and so on. It felt good to see him feel good and it felt good to feel good together. It’s funny how it just took a fairly simple project or task to center and create some focus.
We ended up taking it for its first outing on New Year’s eve and pulled up by the lighthouse at Hook Head in Wexford. Sitting inside our little sanctuary while the sea ripped up over the rocks outside splashing us into the new year, we just found ourselves just laughing. Even though there were a number of discomforts that meant sleep wasn’t great we just laughed and smiled about them because we knew every problem was just another thing we’d get to work on. These things we now know will give us such space for our heads to fix.
Who knows, the more we fix all these little things on the Transit, the more we might fix all the little things that get in the way of a good mental headspace.
So scrape some rust to get your thoughts straight
Clear your head by cleaning grease
For nothings fixed by those who just wait
But in the strangest tasks your mind can ease