Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

Return to the USA – LylesBrother

Hi Doc,

I hope you are having a good day. For me I’m a bit anxious about a phone call with my little brother tomorrow. He’s become an important guy in California county bureaucracy (big fish in a little pond sorta thing) and he emailed me out of the blue yesterday with a possible job offer (there’s nothing like nepotism in the ranks of government). Anyway, I’m not getting my hopes up too high though it’s rather exciting to imagine, as such an opportunity might actually allow us to return to the USA sooner than later. My wife and I already talked about it and we agree that such a move might mean a family split for a year or more as I go back and prepare a new home for them to return to. This plan will also allow Emily to at least complete junior high school in Japan which will ensure near adult fluency in Japanese. It’s a sacrifice I would be less willing to do if Emily were younger, though as it is now, her life is more about her school and friends than boring old mom and dad and this fact and timing may be as optimal as we could hope for.

This type of move is not new to us as Yumiko and I did roughly the same thing 22 years ago after our first stint as a couple living in Japan. At that time we decided that as long as the return move was going to be difficult, we may as well pick the nicest place we knew to engage in the struggle and fight of re-establishing roots in the USA. The plan then was that I would go back first and get established, and then bring her over. We chose Santa Barbara (one of the most beautiful and expensive communities in California) as our target home and I flew back to LA with a few thousand in savings. I promptly bought a beat up old pickup truck and drove to SB where I slept on the beach at night and sought after a job by day. I got REAL lucky in landing a lovely little apartment near downtown (I’d love to live there again) in a 1920’s building shaded by enormous California oaks. The apartment was only ten minutes walking distance from downtown, and Yumiko I made good use of the amazing, eclectic community and wonderful, relaxed ambiance which defines the Santa Barbara beachside lifestyle. SB is a town of artists, musicians and professionals and we lived almost next door to the famous Santa Barbara County Bowl which, despite it’s diminutive size is a huge draw for major talent who seem to enjoy performing on the open air stage which is settled into the natural hollow of a coastal canyon. The sounds of the Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills and Nash (David Crosby is a local), the Talking Heads as well as many other top-billed performers could often be heard filtering down the canyon and through the open windows of our little apartment almost every weekend. The music was never too loud or faint and provided something of a live background soundtrack to a wonderful instantiation of the California lifestyle. I loved that apartment so very much. The amazing thing was that the elegant 75 year old landlady (Mrs. Sommerfield was her name) rented to me with no job, little savings, no rental history, credit record or California residency. Once I had the apartment I took the very first job I was offered (as a teacher for the severely disabled) and the game was on. I think I had less than $500.00 in the bank at that point. Ten years later I was a member of the Santa Barbara millionaires club, living on a single acre coastal estate with a home filled with expensive furniture, a swimming pool in the middle of a fruit orchard and a garage filled with expensive cars and motorcycles, all of which I had purchased for cash. That was the top of the game for me as I then managed to lose everything on our next gamble in returning to Japan. Believe you me, I learned all too well the lesson implicit in the proverb “pride goes before a fall” from that epic crash, and I think I can safely say that I spent a million dollars purchasing my current humility and grounding, which is now my most cherished personal possession. My only regret is that my family can no longer enjoy the leisure and security which such money brings (but which I found to be an awful trap and distraction) though it was a heck of a lot of fun while it lasted (such parties we threw!).

As for life gambles, I think I have at least one more roll of the dice left to try and my phone call with Lyle tomorrow may be telling regarding when or where the thrown bones may land us. The scary thing is that the stakes are much higher with a child so we can’t be quite so cavalier as we once were. I’m not getting my hopes up too high though, and I’ll keep you informed of what happens. Now, it’s time for me to grade papers. Have a great day and talk to you soon!





Welcome to the LylesBrother blog. My name is Kurt Bell and I am delighted that you have taken some time to share a little of life with me. I’m available on Facebook and Google+ if you have questions or just want to chat and say hi. I can also be found at the JVLOG forum with other Japan-related content creators. All links are listed below. I look forward to meeting you on-line. Have a great day!

The Path of WildnessThe Path of Wildness is easy to find
The course of a stream
Leaves blown in the wind
A beast’s track through the brush
And the direction of our first inclination

The Path of Wildness is an answer and response to a prescribed way of life which may leave some individuals with a sense that their living is little more than a series of pre-determined, step-like episodes between birth and death. The stages of living between these events: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and senior are themselves natural and in accord with the needs of the species and most individuals. Many find their satisfaction in living this course and to these individuals I have little or nothing to say. Others though long for something more; something innate, genetic and seemingly calling. Adventure and change can give a degree of satisfaction and relief yet even these may seem too tame. To those who feel drawn to something beyond the entertainment and stimulation of senses I offer a walk along The Path of Wildness. Don’t bother penciling the event in your schedule, preparing a pack with goodies and supplies or even inviting a friend along, for this experience is along the course of your first inclination and you must surely always go alone.

The Path of Wildness Resources


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