Finding Me: The 1st Year

Joel at the piano

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?

Joel at the pianoOne 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.

Weather didn’t prevent us from publishing two books this month; my 4th business book and my first fiction. Nor from having our two best months financially in many years.

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.


  1. Whew! Who knew Joel. It sounds like you’ve
    personally grown big time; not easy for anyone,
    particularly when one passes the mid-century mark.
    My hat goes off to you Joel. I wish you continuing
    good health and happiness. Take care my friend,

    triiibe on!

  2. It’s been a very good year and it’s interesting to see how much we’ve all grown, individually and as a family. We’ve all become closer and learned so much more about each other. Even after ‘knowing’ each other since we were kids (I was 9 and Joel was 13 the first time we met), we continue to learn more about each other and appreciate each other even more.

  3. Joel and Sue—a year? What kind of chrono-prestidigitation is that? Wow, with jaw and mind agape. You sum it up well, Joel—the journey’s the thing, and you’ve journeyed mile and mind. Keep those tires rolling!

  4. Yeah, I know, Tom. I’m told it’s a sign of old age when time passes this quickly. I’m told a lotta other lies, too.

    There is not much of the old life I miss. A handful of very special people I miss; pixels on the screen aren’t the same as sharing a glass in front of the fire.

    Perhaps we’ll drop by on our drive from NorCal to SoCal in mid-August.

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