Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

3 ways before/after photos are like magic

I fell prey to the magic of before and after photos. For months now, Ivan has been watching YouTube videos, reading articles, researching parts and plans. He’s been building an arsenal of knowledge about processes and products required for a van build. On the flip side, I’ve been browsing van builds as they come up in my Instagram feed. I started following a few van lifers (see below) and periodically read their happy, dreamy content. I didn’t realize I was succumbing to the magic of before and after photos until Ivan put his hands on the van and started cutting, drawing, sawing, and buying all sorts of equipment. For example, this week Ivan installed the solar panels and the air vents.  It took a couple of days, but the sense of accomplishment was palpable when Ivan finished. Hours and days go into the build, and then it can be summed up in a sentence or a 10 minute video – if only big projects could be actually be done that quickly. 

Ah, bare bones.
Look how fast it was to insulate! (not)

We know social media provides a distortion of reality, we know this deep down. If you’re like me, though, we let ourselves forget it in day-to-day scrolling and liking. So, I had this little idea that before/after photos act like magic tricks and here are three ways it reminds me of magic. Afterward, I’d love to hear (read) your own examples of social media magic!

  • It’s actually feels like waving a wand

The magical part of swiping, is that you literally wave your thumb and the magic happens! Look, it’s done! In the first picture, the project seemed daunting and huge. However, in less than a second the finished product is there before my eyes. Wow, it must have been a lot of work, but here it is. I love swiping back and forth between the images, it’s like undoing the magic and reapplying it instantaneously. The unfinished product won’t be there for long, because I can wave my magic wand (thumb) and voilà! It’s inspirational, it shows us these projects are doable, but it teases the mind like a delightful magic trick.

  • It skips the mental work

There are several days here and there where the productivity is invisible – meaning Ivan is thinking and planning. Each stage of the build requires fore knowledge of the next two or three stages. Before Ivan makes a move, he visualizes Ivan the carpentry, wiring, and plumbing. Some days he didn’t build or paint or saw anything. I’d find him walking around inside and outside the van with a furrow in his brow and arms crossed. The “thinking air” is almost palpable. At the end of the day, we’d talk a little. I would asked, “How did it go? What did you do?” to fire up a small conversation.

There’s a sense that “thinking a lot” isn’t productive, that it’s wasting precious time to get the build done. Swiping between a before/after image or watching fast-paced clips in a project video, skips the thinking time. And, thinking is absolutely critical! Without thinking, double-checking, replanning, trying different angles, there would certainly be mistakes – and this project is too permanent for mistakes. If you’re getting ready for a van build or project, it’s okay to take a day or two and just think. This is why Ivan is better suited to the building task than myself. I tend to jump in and figure things out along the way, I like the sense of discovery and learn through trial and error, although this process is often inefficient. 

  • It glosses over the beauty of physical labor

Even though the magic swipe piques interest, curiosity, and amusement – it glosses over the beauty of physical labor. You could purchase an RV that’s livable. You could purchase a van that’s already been converted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I could easily be talked into it as long as we had enough money saved to use cash for it. Ivan and I even had a conversation along those lines. But, from watching the YouTuber’s he enjoys so much, he wanted the experience of building up the tiny home from scratch. It would be boring to see videos of someone sawing out a square in the side of a vehicle, but that’s what the van build is. YouTube videos show the hard labor involved, but even then it’s cut and shortened to accommodate our attention span. Admittedly, no one should be expected to watch someone else measure, remeasure, and cut. I’m just saying the magic of swiping cannot impart the beauty of physical labor being poured into a construction project. 

Prior to our own build, I’d see a video here or there and look through before/after images. While a person can appreciate the enormity of building projects, I certainly did not have any sense of the time involved. Swiping between photos gives the illusion of magical transformations. It’s not magic, it’s long, it occurs inch by inch and minute by minute.

I’m still going to swipe and like as much as I please, but now I have a greater appreciation for everything in between the photos – the sweat, stress, mistakes, and boring days of painting. I would not have understood the magic trick prior to owning a van – and that’s okay, it’s not a bad thing at all. But, now my curiosity is piqued. Are there any other delightful magic tricks you’ve noticed on social media?

Comment and share!

Talk soon,

Hanna 

Popular YouTubers – Eamon & Bec, Trent & Allie, Tio Aventura

Products to Shop – click here!

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Time to Move

We were laying down to sleep, upstairs in his parents’ unfinished attic, when I was overcome by sadness. “I miss our home,” I whispered. “Me too,” he replied. I felt lost.

When we were skipping around packing up the van with “just the essentials”, something in the back of my mind knew we were moving out – but my conscious self hadn’t accepted it. I didn’t let myself understand that, “We will be in Idaho for 2 months” actually meant, “We are moving out of this home.”

On the other hand, was it really home? Our landlords were nice enough, and just picky enough that I felt a regular reminder whispering, “You are a guest here.” So, while the apartment was comfortable, clean, and big, it wasn’t really our home. Despite the conflict of emotions, I still missed our nice little place in Farmington, Utah. Laying down to sleep that night, I realized I would need to set up a new routine yet again to manage my diet needs (and preferences).

We’ve been here about two weeks now. Ivan installed two back windows in the van. Yesterday, he cut some boards and drilled them in to essentially create studs for the walls. We get 4-5 Amazon packages almost every day, it feels like Christmas. There are moments where I’m excited for this next adventure, moments I regret not doing it sooner, and other times where I wonder if it’s going to be a good thing. 

I haven’t exactly been super helpful. Ivan has so far done the work himself, though I expect the tasks to gear up pretty soon. Everyone seems excited for us, curious and intrigued. No one has said anything critical or negative, which is nice. Even though we’ve received nothing but encouragement, I still anticipate some passive aggressive comment about our choices. It hasn’t happened yet, so why do I keep thinking it’s coming?

Lying in bed, missing our home that wasn’t really our home, I recognized that we are on the edge of a great adventure. I think part of my sadness came from the speed at which we left. The two months of missing Ivan dragged on and on, then suddenly he’s home, were driving home from Chicago with a brand new van, my current job becomes my former job, and we find ourselves living in another state.

Perhaps the sadness I felt in the night was more like the ache of goodbyes left unsaid – which, I’ll admit is weird to feel about an apartment. I think once we go “home”, finish emptying the apartment, slow down, and say, “Goodbye” I will be able to close the chapter of Rooted Life and open the chapter to Nomadic Life.

Have you gone through an exciting transition, then sadness took you by surprise? Maybe it’s a symptom of looking too far into the future, that you/I miss the present. Let me know your thoughts, I’m genuinely curious.

Love,

Hanna