Lessons Learned from a Nomadic Lifestyle

We tend to think of our physical journeys and our soul’s journey as two separate things, but they are the same. The urges of our soul motivate our choices and the things we do impact our souls.  They are intricately entwined. 

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. Miriam Beard

Physical travel has literally been a big part of my life’s journey.  My husband had recently retired when we married in 1995. He yearned to travel. At the time, I was more of a home-body.  The perfect answer: a motorhome. For the next 6 years, we lived and traveled full-time all over the United States and Canada. Then it was time to see the rest of the world. We took countless small cruises, sailed around the world twice, spent extended periods of time in China and India, and toured all over Europe and the U.S.  

So much of who we are is where we have been. William Langewiesche

When we sold our last motorhome, we automatically assumed we needed a home and bought a condo in Boca Raton, Florida. We rarely used it so we sold the condo on 1/11/11, and officially became nomads. It has been 6 and 1/2 years now; a journey of the soul as much as the body. 

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within. 
Lillian Smith

A nomadic lifestyle teaches you…

The Simplicity of Life 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Clothes  

It is amazing how little we actually need and use in day to day living. Outside of clothing required for work, we tend to wear the same clothes over and over. Take a look in your closet and notice how many items you don’t wear often, don’t really like, don’t fit anymore. Clothes and shoes that are just taking up space. 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Food 

Occasionally we rent an apt. for a week or a month and make our own meals. On the road, we choose hotels that serve breakfast. In Europe, we often opt for half board – breakfast and dinner are included. Otherwise, we generally have a late lunch, and at night we snack on the cheese, crackers and fruit we usually carry with us. 

You Don’t Need a Lot of Things 

We do carry a laptop, phone, and 2 Ipads. In the States, we can find pretty much whatever else we need at the Dollar Store – such as nice wine glasses and mugs. 

The Gifts of Travel

Humility  

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. Gustave Flaubert

Travel is humbling because you realize how little you know. And what you do know might, just might, be wrong. Perhaps my country, my culture, my religion isn’t the best one or the one that is right for everyone. 

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.
Aldous Huxley

Awareness

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. Bill Bryson

The brain loves novelty. It is more alert and alive when presented with new experiences. 

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. W.B. Yeats

Acceptance

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. Maya Angelou

When you can’t communicate with everyone around you because you don’t speak their language, you learn to reach out in other ways, with a touch with a smile. And then people reciprocate in kind. We have found that natives usually go out of their way to welcome and help a visitor.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. James Michener

Courage

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. Andre Gide.

Entering unknown territory can be fearful or exciting. Physiologically, those two sensations are the same within the body. Depending on what you label that feeling, you will be open or close down. Fear rejects and closes the energy field. Courage vitalizes and opens the energy field. 

Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown. Gaby Basora

Growth

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

New experiences change us. A life without change tends to become static and close-minded. This is where the merging of the soul’s journey and the physical journey can be most easily seen. We are larger people, more aware, more accepting, more adventurous for having stepped into a new experience.

Furthermore, travel offers an opportunity to recreate yourself. 

When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.
William Least Heat Moon

People will see you as you are when you encounter them. Travel teaches us not only who we are but who we can be. It forces us to break through self-imposed boundaries and extend ourselves.

Even those life journeys that do not turn out well have gifts for us. We learn through mistakes. We grow through trials. 

Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau

In all things, we find what we are looking for. We get what we give. Nowhere is this more evident than in our travel experiences.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. Ralph Waldo Emerson

PLEASE NOTE: We sail back to Europe on April 22, 2017. Future blogs will be about the 6 months we are spending overseas. You can subscribe and follow on www.gerioneill.com

Hate Makes the World Go Round

Let’s be honest – it’s hatred not love that makes the world go round. Hate gives rise to terrorism, violence, racism, and bullying. It’s hate at the root of greed and anger, hostility, and abuse. Hatred divides and gives birth to most of the problems in the world.

What is this overpowering, malignant force? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hate is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.”

Sources of Hatred 

Fear. Safety and security are in jeopardy. Think economic collapse, terrorism or failing health.

Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear. Bertrand Russell

Anger. Value is demeaned, belief system threatened. Think insult, ridicule, liberal vs. conservative.

Debate and dialogue is taking a back seat to the politics of destruction and anger and control. Dogma has replaced thoughtful discussion between people of differing views. James McGreevey

Injury. Physical harm has been inflicted. Think violence, torture, physical abuse to self, others, animals.

Pursuit of the ability to manipulate and control now produces only violence and destruction. Gary Zukav

Thanks to the media, fear, anger and injury are all around us. One would think that the world is fast imploding with violence and hatred. But according to Steven Pinker’s masterpiece The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, “violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.”

That is not to deny that there are horrendous acts of violence taking place every day. But when it is fed to us across every media channel, it builds fear and fear can spark irrational hatred.

Why Such Focus on Fear and Violence?

Fear is a powerful force of manipulation. This from The Power of Fear:

Fear is instilled in us at an early age and infects our perceptions throughout our lives. We are taught to be afraid of crime, afraid of losing our jobs, afraid of AIDS, afraid of immigrants, afraid of the Russians (or the Moslems), afraid of terrorism, afraid of chaos, afraid of failure, afraid of not being loved, afraid of going to hell. All these apprehensions are seized on and magnified by the media, the government, the corporations and the Church, whipping us into a frenzy of fear.

Our fears control us, dominate our thoughts and poison our emotions. When we are afraid, we are weak and obedient. When we are afraid, we will do anything, believe anything, submit to anything or anyone to feel safe.

When we are afraid, we give up not just our power, but our humanity. We see others through the lens of hatred not realizing that it is ourselves we demean. Thinking we are right puts us in instant, automatic opposition to anyone who does not agree with us. We see the other side as the bad guy, not realizing that the other side sees us as the same way.

Fear is the most debilitating emotion in the world, and it can keep you from ever truly knowing yourself and others…its adverse effects can no longer be overlooked or underestimated. Fear breeds hatred, and hatred has the power to destroy everything in its path. Kevyn Aucoin

And destroy us, it will. With our rapidly growing population, we must learn to co-exist peacefully. The solution to many of the world’s problems has long been obvious: Nutrition and education. There would be a significant decrease in war, environment and social problems if some of the money that goes into defense spending were diverted into providing basic nutrition and education.

Education is a lifelong responsibility. We must educate ourselves on the issues. We must stop believing everything we hear or see in the news. We must demand real news, true facts. One fact that is surely obvious after all this time….

War has not solved the problem of radical terrorism

Understand The Psychology of Terrorism: Why Normal People Become Deluded Murderers. 

Learn about the positive contributions of Muslims and a concise explanation of the causes of terrorism in…

The Lost History of Muslim Geniuses and the Truth About Terrorism

And most of all, we must learn about ourselves and ever strive to learn and grow. If we do not rise above them, fear and hatred will destroy us individually and collectively.

Is it not time to listen to the better angels of our nature?

Heartsong: Love, Mystery and the Song of Your Spirit

The novel HEARTSONG is a compelling story that touches all one’s emotions. It is…

A MYSTERY: What destroyed the village of Glendon Lake? Why has beautiful, 32 year old Devon Wells chosen to make her home in this isolated, hostile mountain village?

PSYCHOLOGICAL: A story of betrayal and loss, guilt and forgiveness. What causes a mind to be split between fantasy and reality, and how can it be healed?

A LOVE STORY: The power of love to heal, unite and transcend the physical realm.

MYSTICAL: Are past and present, this life and the next, separate realities or merely echoes of each other? Are there alternate dimensions of reality?

Chapter 1

I promised I would never tell this story. Fearful people make foolish promises. Now I know peace cannot enter where dark secrets dwell.

We first heard the name that would forever change Glendon Lake, New York in the fall of 1985. A late September sun washed the Adirondack village in a shimmering light. Like a protective barrier against the harsh winter to come, Glen Mountain cradled the town from the north. Along the southern edge, the dark blue waters of Glendon Lake caressed empty beaches.

With migrating birds drawing V’s against the autumn sky, and comets of color brushing the trees, the little mountain resort was at its most picturesque. Few people noticed. After Labor Day, residues of tourism are scrubbed from the face of the village, and the locals are more comfortable in the smoky shadows of Corky’s Bar than out in the open air.

Corky’s is the heart of town. If you want to hear the latest local news, you make it a point to stop in at least once a day. Since my daily visits lasted a good part of the afternoon, I was there the first time the name Devon Wells was spoken.

Mike Williams and I were at our usual spot at the bar having our usual conversation, trying to figure out how Mike could make some money. He was in dire straits and I was anxious to help him. Day after day, he
voiced his despair, and day after day, I tried to lift his spirits.

My concern for Mike was partially fueled by guilt. In 1978, he bought the construction business his father and I started in the fifties during Glendon Lake’s heyday. Even after those lucrative years, there was always enough building within a hundred mile radius to keep us busy. Not long after Mike bought the company, however, the bottom fell out of construction in the North Country. Mike was reduced to doing repair work on the old stores, motels and cabins that cater to the middle class tourists who pass through in summer.

Winters were long and lean, but Mike had been getting by. He was bored though, and longed to build something. Then his mother goes and sends him one of those newly popular self-help, you can do anything books. It convinced him he had to take a risk to turn his life around. So, he decided to build a log cabin on Glen Mountain.

His father and I bought most of the lower western section of the mountain years ago. About a mile and a half wide, the property consists mostly of gently rolling forest. Midway, a road runs up the mountain. My house is about a quarter of a mile up on the east side. A little beyond that on the west side is a twenty acre spread of fairly flat land. When Mike Senior retired to Florida, I bought out his share all but that parcel which he wanted to give to his son. When Mike decided to build on a portion of it, his father financed him and I offered to help.

Mike Junior hoped to sell it as a summer home, or at least rent it for the season. It was a desperate act; Glendon Lake hasn’t attracted full- time summer residents for many years. The tourists who come here can’t afford more than a one week vacation, and not a fancy one at that. But Mike was always a bit of a dreamer. Guess he thought he could turn Glendon’s luck around as well as his own. No one but him was surprised there hadn’t been a nibble on the place, to buy or rent, in over two years.

The cabin turned into an added expense Mike could ill afford. Then, last June, he fell off the roof of the Double D Diner while tarring some weak spots. His right leg was broken in two places, his left knee shattered, and he was out of commission during the busiest time of the year. He refused to ask his father for any more money, and was a wreck worrying about how to pay the bills and put food on the table.

It might not be rational, but I felt some responsibility for Mike and his problems. I wanted to help. From the higher elevation of my barstool, I looked down at Mike slumped in his wheelchair. The sorry sight of him made me decide to go ahead and offer the loan I’d been wanting to extend for some time. As a sixty-two-year-old bachelor, I had more money than most people in Glendon Lake, and little to spend it on. It was only knowledge of the fierce Williams’ pride and quick temper that held me back. But things were at a critical point, and I figured Mike would take money from me quicker than welfare.

As I cleared my throat to speak, the door of Corky’s flew open and the bulk of George Henderson filled the frame. He paused, panting with the exertion of carrying his body from his real estate office across the street.

“Mike! Mike!” George yelled as he caught his breath. He squinted his eyes, peering about the cloudy barroom in search of Mike. I recall the moment vividly for it was the only time in my life that the sight of George Henderson gave me pleasure. I gulped my beer, glad not to have to face the awkwardness of offering Mike money.

“Over here, George,” Mike called.

Not waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, George followed Mike’s voice across the room. He hunkered forward and waved his arms in front of him to clear a path to where we sat. He completely missed Mike sitting in the wheelchair and nearly landed in his lap. And it was there, sprawled between the bar and the arm of the wheelchair, that George made his momentous announcement.

“Praise God, Mike, we got an offer on the cabin!”

Silence fell over the bar. I believe tears sprang to Mike’s eyes, but he quickly dropped his head. It wasn’t but a few seconds before he whispered, “Take it. Whatever it is, take it.”

George regained his pompous air along with his footing. Smoothing his jacket, he chuckled at a slow, deliberate rate. Then the sound deepened and his belly wiggled as he cried, “Oh, but Mikey, that’s the best part. They’re going to pay full price!”

Corky Moran let out a long, slow whistle from behind the bar. Mike’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You got to be shitting me!”

George rubbed his hands together. “I shit you not, my good man. I shit you not.”

“Mother of Christ, I don’t believe this.” Mike looked anxiously at me and then Corky for confirmation that we’d heard the same thing and he wasn’t dreaming.

“Well, it’s the God’s honest truth, Mike, old boy. The God’s honest truth. I guess you could say the worm has fully turned, eh? The worm has fully turned!”

George settled his bulk on a barstool and proceeded to draw his story out to far greater lengths than necessary.

“Less than an hour ago, the telephone rang. I was walking in the door from lunch. Marcy wasn’t there. Been home sick all week, you know. Flu bug or some such thing. Anyway, I answered the phone. There was a man on the line identified himself as a lawyer from New York City. Oops,” George said condescendingly, “an attorney. I do beg your pardon. This attorney person said he was representing a certain party, a… hold on, I got it right here in my pocket. Right. A Miss Devon Wells. That’s it. Says this Devon Wells person wants to buy your cabin and the ten acres that goes with it.”

“When did she see it?” my curiosity prompted me to ask.

George turned toward me. “God only knows, Ben. That’s a mystery in itself. I never showed it to her. I’ve shown the cabin so few times I can remember exactly who and when.”

“What else did the lawyer fella say?” Mike wanted to know.

“Well, he asked the price, and I told him. And we’re talking the original, Mike.” George grinned, delighted with his own business acumen. “I know we discussed dropping the price after season, but we never got around to setting a new one. So, I just went ahead and quoted the original. The lawyer didn’t hesitate a second. Not a second. Said that would be fine, draw up the contract and send it to his office. He gave me the address. Meantime, he said, he’d put a thousand dollar binder in the mail today to hold the property.”

“A thousand dollars!” Mike’s face lit up. His joy quickly gave way to worry. “What if they change their mind? Do we get to keep the thousand?”

“Well, no, not at this point. It’s what they call good faith money. They’re not legally obligated to nothing until the contract is signed. Then they put down ten percent and if they back out after that, well, they’re just shit out of luck, as the saying goes.”

“Did you mail the contract yet?” Mike pressed.

“Not yet, Mike. I wanted to find you first and deliver the good news.”

“That’s fine, George, and I do appreciate it. Now how’s about hustling back to the office and getting that contract in the mail?”

“That’s just what I intend to do, Mike. Just exactly. In fact, I promised the lawyer I’d do just that, get it in the mail today. Believe it or not, we could close this thing out in a month. These people seem as anxious to buy the cabin as you are to sell it.” George pushed himself off the barstool.

“Thanks, Georgie boy. You done a fine job. Just fine.” Mike patted him on the arm.

“Why thank you, Mike. You know I aim to please. The satisfaction of my clients is of utmost importance to me…”

“Sure, George. You don’t have to tell me. Now you get on with what’s gotta be done.”

“Fear not. I’ll have it in the evening mail.” George hurried out of Corky’s with a grin to rival Mike’s.

I ordered drinks for everyone in the bar. Together, we toasted the sale of Mike’s cabin. As he raised his glass to his lips, Mike whispered, “Thank you, sweet Jesus.”

Heartsong