Lug nuts and life lessons // Baraboo family photographer

It was when I was sitting in the dark on the gum-littered asphalt of a gas station parking lot, learning how to jack up a car, after just hearing my husband say, “that was the closest I’ve ever come to dying in a motor vehicle,” that I started to rethink our decision to buy a 1971 Volkswagen bus.

It had long been Erik’s dream to own what our daughter calls a “hippie van,” and our trip last summer up the California coast in an old Westy made it my dream, too.

So we jumped at the chance to buy a royal blue camper that ran pretty well, looked pretty sweet on the outside, and needed quite a bit of remodeling on the interior.

Turns out it also had a number of loose lug nuts, and so at 11 p.m., an hour from home and in the circle cast by a gas station street light, we found ourselves having our first “adventure.”

It occurred to me to second-guess, regret, and mildly freak out, because those are all things I do well.

But in that moment, instead of hearing my own uncertain internal voice, or the voice of everyone in our life who had only vaguely disguised that they thought this purchase was not a good idea, I heard another voice.

Clear, certain, pressing us onward.

It said, “Is life supposed to be easy?”

The answer cascaded over me like a revelation.

What kind of life stories do I want to have? The ones where I say, “Listen to what happened to me: Everything came easily, I never struggled, I never risked anything, I made sure that everything was always… fine. The end.”

Or the ones where I was open to adventure, willing to be tested, setting sail when I couldn’t see the shore on the other side because I was willing to bet something amazing awaited me.

The ones where I could sit in that gas station spotlight and laugh and kiss my husband and take a deep breath and say, “Oh my god, our life is awesome,” and have him agree.

The answer was obvious.

Is life supposed to be easy?

Not if you want it to be an adventure.