Traveling with a Journeyman

As I started to think about what this blog could be about, no single theme came to mind. I don’t have one definable area of knowledge to share. Like many people, I have interests and hobbies I could write about, but I can’t claim I have expertise to impart. I do have a list of ideas and observations that have been bubbling up to my mind about life situations both mundane and universal. One person’s situation can represent a larger truth many of us can relate to if we’re aware enough to realize it and share it. How my recent trip to the DMV was like traversing a life-size labyrinth or being bounced around a giant pinball machine. Could I fill a blog with that kind of story on a regular basis?

I knew my background as a wary outsider might give me an observant, distanced eye. That I could use my own penchant for rueful reflection to amuse others, as I’ve done telling stories in person.

In mulling the list of ideas I’ve been jotting down while at the grocery store or thought up in the middle of the night, I caught myself realizing I had launched on yet another of my self-described “magic carpet rides” that could whirl me through an inner mental landscape of tangents and associations.

But I’d need to steer the swirling sea of ideas to firmer ground. One story at a time, so I could take the reader on a particular journey I had gone on if only in my mind. Or guide someone through the distance I’ve gone in my thinking about any topic I care about, such as manners and how people get along.

Still wanting to dream up profound ideas, but seeking a more practical topic if only as a safety net, I also knew it would probably be easy and fun to share stories about my upcoming two-week trip to France and Spain. It had been 11 years since I’d been able to go on a long trip far away, and I felt sure I could observe not only what I hoped would be new and wonderful, but whatever might be different since I’d been to those countries even longer ago. After all, the world itself has been through a lot since then, not to mention my own life growth in the last decade.

Of course I’ve gotten older in these last 11 years, during which I’ve abandoned some old beliefs while dabbling with new ones. I’ve also embraced the state of not knowing some things at all. I can be a beginner again at something I’ve never thought of trying.

It feels good since I’m at a career crossroads between jobs. In a new employment landscape, I’ve had to think about where my expertise truly lies. And what do I WANT to know more about, and do.

Maybe I could go on being a jack-of-several-trades who can edit documents, make them look good, do some web publishing, and create fun advertising or logos. Or stop trying to become an expert at any of those areas. Maybe try something new.

Having to think about what do I KNOW or even what can I share about NOT knowing got me to remember old terms from a junior high school history class. How in the medieval era, there were masters at their craft, and “journeymen” who were no longer beginner apprentices, were competent enough to work at their trade, but were still trying to become experts. What I didn’t remember is, were the journeymen so-named because they traveled from one job to another? Or because the process of gaining more skill through various experiences was a sort of journey?

I learned that “journeyman” is based on “journee,” the French word for “day,” because the system at the time allowed a journeyman to charge a fee for a day’s work. I also learned that journeymen did in fact travel to different workshops to widen their skill.

It sounds a bit like the modern-day “gig” economy where technology changes job skills more rapidly than before, and businesses want to be flexible in hiring workers only when they need them. After working my last job for 18 years, I can see the appeal of working different jobs for shorter periods and more variety.

As I materialized from my airy thought process and settled back on dry land, I realized I’d been on an inner mental “journey about journeys,” thinking about different meanings of the word itself. And what it could mean for what I could write my blog about. I’m not sure how long I was away – perhaps I mused on the idea over several days, or only daydreamed for seven minutes.

I decided that a journeyman or -woman is:

  • Another name for a journey-er taking a trip to anywhere away from home
  • Or the same person taking a small journey to a well-known place close by that offers room for fresh insights, preferably startling or funny ones
  • Someone attempting to learn a new level of skill, which is a new territory of its own
  • Someone who can weave multiple things into one unique thread without always knowing it
  • Someone who will write about all of the above

That’s who I am.

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