How Can We Help?

Life is a Journey Best Lived With Regular Self-Examination: My Year in Review

You are here:
< All Topics
The sunrise and sunsets in Quartzsite are often amazingly mind-blowing!

This sunrise photo is one of my all-time favorites and I took it at the RTR in Quartzsite last January, 2013.

This is the first in a series of posts about a Review of my past year. Mainly they will be photos but in this post I want to lay a philosophical foundation for the importance of a yearly review.
One thing we say and hear often is that life is a Journey, and not a Destination, and I believe that with all my heart. I think what that saying means is that life must be lived in the present moment, because honestly, that’s all there really is. The past is just a memory, and the future is an illusion; only this present moment truly exists. I believe that saying means that a life constantly lived for a future destination at the expense of the present moment is a failed life. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings:

Living with one foot in the future, and one foot in the past, pissing all over today.

However, on every journey there must be times where you stop and look back to see where you came from, and then look forward to where you are going. Without that, you are at great risk of totally losing your way and slowly becoming so disoriented you are hopelessly lost. Life is constantly changing and without a “North Star,” something that never changes, we become bewildered and confused.
For example, I am an avid walker, especially in the desert. But I can assure you that one of the things I do when I head off into the desert is to pick a point on the horizon and use it as a guide so that I walk in a straight line. And as I walk I often stop and look back to see where I came from. Those two points become my “North Star.” The scenery around me constantly changes and becomes different, but those points do not. By staying in touch with them, I can maintain my balance and know where I am, and where I want to go.

I think this may be my favorite photo from 2013. It summarizes the main lesson I'm taking away from 2013, that my life can be just like the desert: My circumstances can be brutal and hard so I may need a hard shell with thorns, But I also have to have a soft, beautiful side that I share with the world.

I think this may be my favorite photos from 2013. It summarizes the main lesson I’m taking away from last year: my life can be just like the desert, my circumstances can be brutal and hard so I may need a hard shell with thorns, But I also have to have a soft, vulnerable (and hopefully beautiful) side that I share with the world.

In exactly the same way, I need to know WHO I am. And not in just a shallow, cursory way, but I need to know truly and deeply WHO I am inside and out. The spiritual system that I follow stresses the importance of continual, fearless, self-examination. It urges me to do a daily inventory to make sure that my attitudes, thoughts, feelings and behaviors are something I can be proud of and aren’t slowly going astray–which (just like a walk in the desert) happens far too easily! I’m not completely faithful to that goal, but I have found that regular self-examination is essential, because without it I slowly change in negative ways that accumulate to become unacceptable attitudes and actions.
The most important–and difficult–thing about self-examination is to do it with self-love and no sense of judgment or punishment. It’s a kind of navigation, and there is no room for judgment or punishment in navigation. It’s a simple matter of finding your location and making corrections, if need be. In the same way, there is no room for condemnation or judgment in my self-examination. But most of us find that nearly impossible; our first attempts at a personal inventory are filled with self-hate and condemnation instead of self-love and acceptance; because that’s what society teaches us. For that reason my first few attempts at it were made with a trusted advisor who helped me through the mine-field of self-hatred and punishment it can become. He was able to do that, because he was living a life of continual self-examination himself. I never would have done it without him, or the guidance and help of a Higher Power.
This was my first photo of 2013, taken around a campfire at a New Years Eve party at my friend Steve's camp

This was my first photo of 2013, taken around the campfire at a New Years Eve party at my friend Steve’s camp. Wonderful friends in a beautiful setting: it can’t get any better than this!

December is a time for me to stop and exam this last year and determine if my journey is all I want it to be.  That self-examination is so deeply intimate and personal that I can’t possibly share it in a public forum like this, so instead I’ll just share my 2013 in photos and some of the many lessons I learned along the way.
As always January is all about the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) so I spent it in Quartzsite, AZ. The attendance was high and it went very well; we all had a great time. For the very first time I had behavior problems with people and actually had to ask them to leave. That was very hard for me, because I am not a confrontational person; but it had to be done.  I guess it’s just part of hosting a large gathering. It doesn’t deter me from holding the RTR, but I sure hope it doesn’t happen again!
A seminar at RTR 2013

A seminar at RTR 2013

I guess the lesson for me is that sometimes you have to do hard things and hurt people for the greater good. My goal is to be loving and kind toward all and telling someone they are banned from the RTR does not appear to be loving and kind. But in reality it is, because it is the most loving and kind thing I could do for the most people. I knew that philosophically, but that was the first time I actually experienced it.
The group at one of our evening walks at RTR 2013.

The group at one of our evening walks at RTR 2013.

February was mostly spent in Yuma going to Algodones, Mexico for eyeglasses and prescription medications. A group of us stayed together after the RTR and drove to Yuma as a caravan, then camped together. After a few weeks they decided they wanted to move over to Mittry Lake so they left together. Part of me wanted to feel abandoned and unappreciated: “Don’t they know who I am!”  But when I was really honest I had to admit that I am fairly unsocial and for the group to move on was better for everybody. My job is to bring people together, not be everybody’s friend because I am not really very good at being a friend.  Most people want much more time from their friends than I am willing to give them. I can only have a very few close friends who I share myself with, and that’s perfectly okay as long as I am as loving and kind towards all as I can be.

The group at Yuma having a barbecue.

Something else that happened in February was I had gotten involved with a romantic relationship that ended badly. That required a lot of self-examination and honesty with myself. The first thing I had to admit was that I was really bad at relationships!! The next thing I decided was that I could never be in another relationship again if it left the other person hurt. That’s simply not how I can live my life. I will be alone forever before I will hurt someone else. (I’m speaking only for myself and not for anyone else. I’m so bad at relationships that I could never tell anyone else how to do it!!!!).
That meant that I couldn’t be in a normal girlfriend-boyfriend relationship again, because they almost always end with one or both parties being hurt. All my future relationships had to be something else. As I write this I’m in such a non-traditional relationship that is so odd I can’t even begin to describe it for you. I can only say that I think there is no chance either of us will be hurt and for the first time in my life I’m close and intimate with a female person and happy—in the past those two never went together before. But, we are not boyfiend-girlfriend!
Okay, that’s enough for now. In the next post I’ll continue to go through a Review of 2013.
This is the largest Ocotillo I've ever seen very near our Yuma camp. The majority of desert plants are hard and thorny outside as a method of self-defense. But not all....

This is the largest Ocotillo I’ve ever seen very near our Yuma camp. The majority of desert plants are hard and thorny outside as a method of self-defense. But not all….

As harsh and hard as the desert is, it has an amazing amount of delicate beauty in the spring. This tender lily was very close to the massive and armored Ocotillo pictured above. I also can be soft and tender at the same time I hard and armored.

As harsh and hard as the desert is, it has an amazing amount of delicate beauty in the spring. This delicate and tender lily was very close to the massive and armored Ocotillo pictured above. I also can be defenseless, soft and tender at the same time that I hard and armored.


  1. Al Christensen

    The road to self-acceptance was a long, hard one for me. I grew up in a judgmental family and religion. Love was always conditional. I was away from all that for about fifteen years of my adult life before I got professional help and discovered I wasn’t a loathsome creature. If I hadn’t learned I was an okay person I might not be around now. I wasn’t suicidal back then, but I could see that was the way the road was heading. We might never find peace with the world, but we need to be at peace with ourselves.

    • Bob

      It was exactly that way for me too Al. I am a classic ego-maniac with a inferiority complex. Part of me thinks I’m the greatest thing that ever happened and part of me thinks I am shit. A searching and fearless personal inventory keeps the ego-maniac side in check and and learning compassion and empathy for myself and others keeps the self-hatred in check.

  2. Openspaceman

    *Self examination…I wouldn’t know where to begin. Your level of thinking is like looking at a clear blue sky and mine thru mud covered motorcycle goggles. I understand why you needed a trusted advisor to help navigate. Your description of a mine field is spot on…and I’m not ready to step into that yet.
    I don’t mind social situations and don’t suffer from much social anxiety but I prefer my own company most of the time.
    **Great pictures
    ***And if we ever meet I promise to behave myself.

    • Bob

      Openspaceman, a searching and fearless personal inventory was the hardest thing I have ever done. in fact it was impossible for me, I couldn’t do it. Part of me was sure I was too good to need an inventory and part of me was terrified to look at myself honestly for fear that I was the horrible monster I thought I was.
      My Higher Power literally performed a miracle and did for me what I could not do for myself. In a moment of time I was able to see myself with crystal clarity and able to have both compassion for the pain and hurt I had experienced and forgiveness for all my many flaws and harm I had done others. One second I was one person, and a nano-second later I was someone else. From that moment to this one I have never for one second doubted it was miracle.

  3. Jimmy Drinkwater

    Sorry, this post comes off as being from a very selfish person. Had trouble with friendships or relationships before? Really, it’s no wonder.

    • Bob

      Jimmy, you are completely, 100% right. When I was trying to get to the bottom of how I had totally fucked up my life what i discovered was that I was terribly self-centered. Outwardly, I was a nice guy but all my thoughts were about myself. In fact I had to admit that the reason my first marriage failed was 100% my fault. In fact I had to go to her and apologize and tell her it was my fault and i was very sorry. I had to do that a lot!!
      Since then I have worked very hard to be less selfish, and I think I have succeeded to some degree. The reason I decided I couldn’t be in a relationship is because I am too selfish–I simply am not willing to make the self-sacrifices necessary to make a relationship work. I want my space and freedom and I am not willing to give them up–very, very selfish.
      Fortunately I think I found the only woman in the world willing to put up with such a self-centered person. I was totally honest up-front and she was okay with living with what I was willing to give. In fact she needs her freedom and space as much as I do so it works out well.
      thanks for writing Jimmy!

  4. Calvin R

    I understand the regret at having to exclude someone from the RTR. I agree that you did the right thing and I hope that only the lessons, not the regrets, stay with you.
    I share with you that the “traditional” one-on-one until death relationship has not worked out for me.
    One of the reasons for self-examination is to achieve the clear understanding that I am not a monster. I could not achieve anything close to that on my own, but then I need not do it alone. The help I need is everywhere. It always was, but I didn’t see it until I was ready.

    • Bob

      Thanks, Calvin. No I don’t have any regrets, it was the only option I had.
      One of these days I am going to do a post on “marriage.” Marriage is a myth of civilization and used by religions to control the population. It’s totally unnatural and abnormal for human beings and it’s a wonder it works for anybody at all.
      I agree totally that the main point of self-examination is self-acceptance. Flaws and all I am worthy to be loved.

  5. margo miller

    i am happiest on the road and i have drug my children and what ever significant other i might have around with me. my husband of 20 yrs has moved 1 time since me, after being in the same place for 10 yrs and then moved 6 miles away for another 10. realizing that you can not have a regular relationship is important for the sanity of others, because it drives them crazy just knowing that when you get “there” the first thought you have is where shall we go next? my children stay in one spot but you can bet their bippy that no matter what happens or where they go they can cope! love the new site have a good holiday and new year. margo

    • Bob

      Margo, we all have different personalities and needs and the key to happiness is to be honest with what you need out if life and then get it. Stationary people can’t understand mobile people and vice versa. It can be tough when they get married to each other! My second wife and I couldn’t work it out and so we departed as friends.

  6. CAE

    Playing nice just seems to challenge some people. Oh well, that’s why I usually prefer nature.

    • Bob

      CAE, I always prefer nature!

  7. anna

    does anybody know if the myrtle beach gathering idea is still floating around or was it just a daydream? its closer to Minnesota and a lot prettier than Arizona!

    • Bob

      Anna, I thought we had a great location lined up for a RTR but it turned out not to be available. The problem is finding a place that’s large enough for as many people as would come and is also free. I don’t want to have to charge for attendance so it really needs to be free.
      As of now we haven’t found another place and I don’t think we’re going to. I regret that but I don’t know what else to do.

  8. Gennifer

    I agree that the most important part of self-examination is doing it without judgment. I’ve always naturally been someone who examines their thoughts, behaviors, motives, etc. But I used to do it from a place of severe judgment, which I learned growing up. I was miserable.
    When I finally learned to simply observe and adjust my actions without judgment it was like this huge weight was lifted off of me. I still slip back into judgment at times, but it’s far less often. And now I can observe my judgments without judgment! Lol!

    • Bob

      Gennifer, that is a hard lesson to learn but life-changing when you have!

  9. jimmy drinkwater

    My original comment referencing the selfish nature of the article was deleted I see. It’s telling that a blog entry about self-examination doesn’t allow and censors comments that offer criticism of the entry. The root of ‘criticism’ is critical thinking, a necessary ingredient in any self-examination.

    • Bob

      Jimmy, it wasn’t deleted on purpose, I don’t understand how it could have been. I’m behind on answering comments and just did. Your comment was right-on and welcome.

    • judy

      Jimmy…Your comment has NOT been deleted…look again please. Your comment and Bob’s reply to your comment are here.

    • jonthebru

      Its there, I read it!

  10. ILDan

    So you mean even in the desert, I can’t avoid “mirrors?”
    Well, I guess if you must always entertain yourself as company, it’s best to get to know you.
    To relationships–Mine only work when I am my most selfish. If another’s needs are my most selfish want, I’m good.

    • Bob

      ILDan, I take lots of mediocre sunset photos!! Probably 100 poor ones for every great one. I just don’t publish the bad ones!
      You can avoid the mirrors, but you do so at your own peril!
      It sounds like you have the relationship thing figured out pretty well.

  11. Myddy

    I just love your sunset photos, there’s never a mediocre one. They’re all stunning!
    I try to evaluate my entire year every year, right before I decide what to make a resolution on. I don’t do typical resolutions though. Last year my resolution was to find more happiness this year, and for 2013 despite many bad times, I did discover this life style, and I found more happiness and community through it.

  12. jonthebru

    To bad about not having an East Coast gathering. Though there would be no chance of myself attending it would be fun to read about it. Maybe a “do what you can do” thing would be better. As in how many vehicles can we handle and where could it be held and then work from there. Then again, aren’t you going North to Alaska?

    • Bob

      jonthebru, before I hold an RTR I have to know I have room to hold everybody who comes. I can’t put out a call to people to come and not have room for them to camp. Imagine you drive 800 miles and then find out there is no room for you. That would be very disappointing to say the least!
      The RTR would have been in March and then I would have gone to Alaska in May. Plenty of time!

  13. david carter

    Sorry you had to deal with the problem back in January. I have found over the years that some people cannot handle freedom gracefully.

    • Bob

      David, I think you are right, some people can’t handle freedom. They need structure and to be told what to do. It takes all kinds/

  14. Gloria Brooks

    I can really relate to many things you said here, Bob. But, since I haven’t experienced longer term relationships yet (just shorter ones), I’m still putting out hope that I’ll find that perfect RVing woman somewhere out there. Where is she? LOL. But, I’m a bit nervous wondering if I like my freedom and independence too much to find her, sometimes. Okay, I’m looking, but not desperate. Just keeping my eyes wide open.
    But, I think there have got to be more other folks like us that want freedom and independence, but can have a non-conventional relationship too. It looks like you’ve succeeded with that one after all, Bob! Congrats to you both! No leashes! I know it’s hard to find. I’m getting really excited about coming to my first RTR.

    • Bob

      Civilization has made relationships so difficult most of us struggle desperately with them. People aren’t supposed to sacrifice their individuality to be in a relationship but that’s what marriage requires. Most people have been so brainwashed into thinking it’s the only way so when we say we won’t sacrifice our individuality that means we can’t be in a relationship.
      One of these days your path will cross the perfect gal and you’ll live happily ever after!!
      Coming to the RTR is a good place to start looking.

  15. Mario

    Bob,in my view,i can’t see any “selfishness”in your actions your lifestyle or your relationships,only someone that is honest to himself and the world would come right out and say:”i’m not good at this and i choose not to do it or avoid it whenever i can” (and you have done that) or in case of relationships we should not have to give 100% of our self to anyone if this is not what we desire .It’s easy for people to label one as “selfish” when his thoughts and actions are not “stereotype”.
    Acceptance is a “magic” word but should be applied not only to “self” but to others as well. We should all monitor our paths and as long as our actions do not victimize and harm others ,we may be “different” but not selfish. I see society very easily gets “alarmed” by people that are “honest and up front” (not the norm any more)and hurry to label you with something not as nice. Someone that desires freedom and solitude is being labeled as “unsocial”….a very misguided perception. I have chosen to live my life with a high degree of honesty towards all and i admit it has not been very popular with most people (very strange) but i also love and respect myself enough so i don’t really care, and that’s the end of it.
    I would like to wish you Bob and everyone in this blog Happy Holidays,i hope everyone is doing OK and may the New Year bring better health and happiness to All . I also must say that 2013 has been a year of great reflection for me , thanks to you Bob and the blog i have learned a lot and i’m looking forward to another year of stunning photos,great adventures and interesting articles to reflect on:)

    • Claudio

      Spot on, Mario, spot on!!

  16. anyone


    • Bob


  17. Phyllis Anne

    Another good blog Bob! It seems I’ve been reading them in reverse order though. Sorry.
    I did not think of you as being a selfish person at any time while reading your blog. But I was thinking that you pretty much know yourself inside and out, which is something that most people are never able to accomplish in their entire lifetime. Self honesty, and being true to oneself is very freeing. It can only be looked as as being truly respectful toward others to know what you personally can and cannot give of yourself or your means and still remain free in spirit and true to yourself. But it sounds to me like you are able to do that well. It’s freeing of self which is pretty important in an unfree society. The term I use “unfree society” has greater meaning than I’m willing to explain further.
    Others may disagree, and that’s okay too.

  18. Walt

    The word “selfish” gets tossed around as if it is a bad thing. It is not. One has to think of one’s self before he or she can think of another. If you think nothing of yourself or your self, how can you really think anything of anyone else? That has always been my belief, and I think it mirror what Christ said when he said ” love your neighbor as yourself [or your self]” (Mark 12:31).

    • Bob

      Walt, of course your right, there is no such thing as an unselfish act. Even the decision to be unselfish and sacrifice yourself ultimately is selfish because it keeps your conscious clear and makes you feel better abut yourself.
      There is no doubt everything I do is selfish at it’s very core, but I think that’s true of everybody. And I think it’s a good thing.

  19. Drew

    After so many failed relations it was only after I became selfish with my own world that I met a partner that did not ask anything of me but to be myself.Since meeting her I feel my life has become fuller and when I said that I wanted to leave the corporate world, sell everything and live in my 5th wheel and no longer salve 8hrs a day for the possibility of maybe a weekend away she said hell ya. We are now in the process of liquidation and will hit the road sometime this fall.We look forward to FREEDOM and to meeting people like you!

    • Bob

      Drew, that is a lot like what happened to me. When I accepted that I shouldn’t be with anybody and gave up on the constant search, the right person came along. Sounds like you found just the right person!!

Table of Contents