It's Thursday, June 4, 2015. I'm in the Walmart parking lot in Carmel (Indianapolis area), Indiana. I'm nearing the end of this six month odyssey. What a trek it's been.
I've seen so much, met up with many old friends, sometimes in unique situations, met lots of new friends, seen so much, experienced so much, learned so much, endured a major breakdown and looking back - realize that I have only scratched the surface. It's just the tip of the iceberg. I certainly don't recommend my current chosen lifestyle for everyone because it's not. It saddens me that so many people never get an opportunity or, perhaps, don't make or seek opportunities to explore this world, even if it's only our own country(s).
This week I stopped in West Branch, Iowa, the birthplace of President Herbert Hoover and the home of my speaker friend, Jolene Brown and her husband, 'Farmer' Keith Brown. Besides visiting the two room house Herbert Hoover was born in and the museum depicting his life and accomplishments, I also learned so much about agriculture and the farming business. Jolene and Keith have a (as they described it) small, 500 acre family farm. Now, I lived on the small 49 acre ranch in the Shenandoah Valley for six years. That was a lot of land in my mind and the upkeep was substantial and I wasn't raising huge crops of corn and soybeans. The Brown's 500 acres seemed like a "kingdom" to me. Heck! I lived on a 243 acre lake for several years and I thought that was pretty big, but it wasn't half the size of their farm.
Then, on my way eastward I stopped in Pontiac, Illinois at a Walmart Supercenter to overnight park. There, I met Nathan. Actually, I met Nathan first in the men's restroom as we were washing our hands. Nathan immediately impressed me as one of those special people in our world. He was upbeat, friendly and ever so polite. He said he hadn't seen me before, was I from around there. For some reason when I told him I was born and raised in New Jersey, he was very impressed and said he'd never been there. Nathan was a Walmart Greeter. He appeared to be in his late teens or very early 20's. He made everyone smile. He gave and received hugs from shoppers as they entered the store at his door. His co-workers liked him, too. But, there was something even more about Nathan that I discovered as I ate a breakfast sandwich at the Subway sub sandwich shop near the door where he was stationed.
I'll tell you more about Nathan and the Browns in future articles. I've said it before and I'm saying it again. I am meeting amazing people all the time. But, I firmly believe that the reason they are amazing is because I see things in them that they take for granted and don't see in themselves.
My old college friend, Greg Cordano, along with his lovely wife, Mary, from New Jersey is always reminding people there is greatness in them. I absolutely agree with Greg. But, most people don't realize it because they were never inspired by parents, relatives, friends, teachers and clergy (not to mention employers). Others may have had some dreams, but gave up on them way too early when the first few obstacles and setbacks presented themselves. Others simply gave up and accepted their lot in life and don't realize that everyone is part of the whole and makes this life and world work because of each contribution, regardless of how humble or high level.
Time Off The Road
Once I get off the road I'll begin a recap of this trek, as much for myself as for, hopefully, your edification. I have a lot to do. The van needs a thorough cleaning, both inside and out (especially outside, what a collection of bugs I've acquired). I have some routine maintenance to do on the van and a few repairs. It's a machine. Things breakdown and need fixing and replacing. I have some cosmetic things I want to do to the van. I have some interior renovations and modifications I want to do.
I still have some storage units full of stuff that I'll never use again and need to be emptied. So, I'm going to be busy with Ebay, maybe Amazon Marketplace and Craig's List.
Then there are the thousands and thousands of photos I need to edit. I shoot a lot of photos, but only a small percentage of those photos are valuable and depict what I was attempting to capture. I also have a few video clips and I need to go through those as well.
Writing! Boy, do I have a lot of writing to do. There are several books that need to be edited and formatted and (at least initially) released as e-books. There are pages of topics for blog articles. There are also some articles I want to edit or write for possible broader mainstream publication.
Finally, I've been battling some of my own dragons. Without belaboring the subject, if you've read my blog for a while and read the "About Me" section, you know about my background in the recording (audio, video, duplication, etc.) industry and my book publishing exploits. I've spent a fair amount of time during this trek attempting to face the age old challenge, figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Well, first of all, I really don't plan to grow up. But, I do have an internal drive and need to continue doing something to be a productive member of society.
It's been a real challenge for me to accept that while I've identified myself with the recording (mainly sound) industry for over 50 years, I have become a dinosaur and feel separated from the current state of the industry. This is hard for me to comprehend. It seems like only yesterday I did sound for and clandestinely recorded the Count Basie Orchestra. It was at the beginning of my career and the event that helped me make the decision that recording and sound is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The same is true for the decade I spent in the book publishing industry.
So much has changed. The industries have changed. The technology has changed. Music and even recorded spoken word products and delivery methods have changed. Publishing has changed. And, of course, I have changed. I'm not the same person I was all those years ago. So, fitting my life and experience and, maybe (some might consider it), wisdom into a new model of me has taken a lot out of me. But, along the way, I've been fortunate to receive a lot of encouragement and inspiration, as late as just with week while in discussions with Jolene Brown. She helped till the soil of my mind and soul a bit and planted some seeds. So, doing some cultivation over the next few months, I'm looking forward to what may germinate.
It isn't over until it's over. I'm speaking about life. I've met so many people who are living their dreams. They may not be rich and famous. They may not be living a perfect life. But, they aren't sitting around moping, watching others live their dreams and letting life pass them by. All I can say is - ME TOO! And how about YOU?