I wrote that the most important thing you find when you travel is yourself. (What I said literally was the real challenges are inside us; the journey simply exposes them.) I could write about the amazing changes in Fiona (as the 7th child, I know what to expect and she’s exceeded it exponentially.) I could write about how Sue has relaxed, has developed her faith, has deepened my belief in her undying unconditional love.
But I’ll just write about me, okay?
One year ago, nearly to the minute, we left our home behind and chose a nomadic life. For me, though the trigger was financial (it was cheaper to live without a house to care for) my real reasons were about personal growth.
I’m a pack-rat. I needed to stop it before it slipped from annoying to unhealthy.
I’m a homebody. I hate; no, detest, despise, fear, loathe, going out of my home. Crossing my own threshold going outward is an emotional, physical trial, every time I do it. Crossing it inward is a near-spiritual experience.
Difficult nearing unhealthy.
There’s more, but those are a good enough place to start.
I tend toward extremes. (For you Myers Briggs fans, I flip-flop between INFJ, the rarest personality type, especially for a male, and INFP, its confused twin.) I have only two settings for nearly everything. Two colors, black and white. I live in a whorling vortex of intensity and passion which wears on even me a bit.
Over the past year of traveling, I’ve learned to let go a little. I can’t perfectly control the cleanliness and noise of my environment. I don’t even choose the bed I sleep in most nights. Not to say I’ve dealt with dirt or discomfort; that’s not the point. The point is control over those factors.
I’ve stopped collecting almost entirely. I see a tea mug I like, and I just like it, and move on. I’ve purchased one CD that I recall in the past year. I’ve bought one pair of shoes and two pairs of shorts, and given away a pair of shoes, a suit with two pairs of pants and suspenders, multiple pairs of pants, and I don’t remember what else. Less, less, I cry. I seem to be listening. (Okay, the dozen books are research for my writing. Don’t ask a workman to stop buying necessary tools.)
Not one new musical instrument, other than Fiona’s ukulele. This, in itself, is miraculous.
I’ve become slightly more stoic about the weather. I still have a visceral angry response to being too hot. But I’m learning to do what I can, and search for joy in something else when I’m uncomfortable.
I have discovered that I can still feel guilty about not spending enough time with my daughter, even when she’s in the same room with me 16+ hours a day. I have discovered that I yearn for more time, more talk, more touching and eye-gazing with my Best Beloved, even though we are in the same room 23+ hours a day. I want us to dissolve into each other, into a single being, so we’re never apart for an instant.
The short version: I’ve learned that even as I approach 52, the age at which my father died (a fact which looms large in my psyche) I can still change.
Finding me. In unexpected places and ways, I keep finding me, more, clearer, better; the distillate.
Joel Concentrate: Just Add Travel
What’s your excuse for not traveling? My guess: you’re using family, money, or perceived obligations as an excuse for the fear of finding yourself. Don’t.