Journey Man
A World Calling


In Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, author Greg Levoy writes about the importance of “putting on a lens through which we can see our lives as a process of calls and responses”(2). He suggests that it provides a meaningful vision for viewing an individual’s lifelong journey.

One of my first remembered call and response experiences was a remarkably positive event. It is one that remains vivid in my memory.

At an early age, I was an avid tricycle rider. Oftentimes, I would begin and end the day on my speedy three-wheeler. “Stay on the sidewalk where I can see you,” my mother would tell me. “Do not ride up into the neighbors’ driveways,” she would add.

As you might imagine, one of my first significant calls was an intuitive invitation to explore a neighbor’s driveway against my mother’s explicit directive. My response was to heed the call and ride the three-wheeler up the driveway to the garage, located behind the house, where I could not be seen.

I remember that as I was making a sharp turn at the garage and feeling independent and proud of my accomplishment, just before I sped back down the driveway to the sidewalk, I heard a raspy “Hello” coming from somewhere above me. When I looked up I saw an elderly woman, her back bent and her hands gnarled, hunched in a wheelchair on a small balcony at the top of a wooden stairway. My parents would tell me weeks later that she had rheumatoid arthritis.

“Oh, hi,” I responded tentatively, expecting her to scold me for riding in her driveway. Instead, she asked my name in her friendly raspy voice.

“Bill,” I replied. I recall telling her that I lived a few houses away, that I had an older sister named Patty, a baby brother named Bob, and that our dog’s name was Skippy.

“What’s your name?”

“Emma,” she said. My name is Emma.” And she told me that her husband’s name was Roy. I would eventually learn that he was still working part-time as a typesetter at the local newspaper where Emma used to be a reporter.

“Do you have any kids?” She did not.

“Can I use your bathroom?” I asked abruptly. I had been holding it for a very long time.

“Sure you can,” she replied. I quickly climbed the steep wooden stairs, brushed by Emma, pulled open the screen door, and scurried down the hallway to the bathroom at the end as she had directed. When I came back onto the porch, we continued our conversation. That was the beginning of an extraordinary childhood friendship.

Over time, Emma would become my Checkers partner, teach me a half-dozen card games, serve as my confidante, give me permission to beat out melodies on her baby grand piano, and watch cowboy shows with me on her television set. Once, she even let me try on her colorful Japanese kimono kept in a zippered bag in an upstairs closet.

Her husband, Roy would also become my friend. He gave me my first fishing rod, a folding cot for camping, and an impressive looking canvas tent that my dad helped me set up in the backyard.

Looking back in time, I am sure that the chance meeting with my neighbor, Emma, encouraged me to continue to trust my intuition; heed my calls rather than ignore them. Her friendship changed my world significantly. Journey Man is a result of that childhood experience and the many more that followed it.

Each chapter in Journey Man is an expression of this theme. The adventures and travels that I include in the book recognize and honor the times that I have been called and responded with a resounding yes!