The Weariness of Being on the Road

Justin K Prim
Justin K Prim
Published in
4 min readSep 13, 2023

I dreamt of this lifestyle when I was in my 20’s. All I wanted to do was travel and having someone else pay for the travel would have been even better. In the last two weeks, I have been to five countries on three continents. I flew from France to Chicago to Los Angeles then drove back to Chicago, drove from Chicago to Knoxville and back twice, flew back to France, drove to the Jura mountains which took me into Switzerland, flew to Bangkok, flew to Hong Kong, and will finally fly back to France. Just writing that sentence is tiring. I actually had to remind myself as to where I was when I woke up this morning. The jetlag is palpable and my brain is extremely fuzzy. Maybe that’s the perfect headspace for writing.

If I zoom out only slightly, in the last year and a half, I was home for 4 months and on the road for 14 months. I think I have officially pushed travel to its limits. I travelled a lot in my 20s, to the point where I realized that I shouldn’t travel for the sake of travel anymore. I realized that during these long trips, I would lose focus of where my life was going and I would start to get depressed towards the end of my adventure. Movement would feel idle because I wasn’t creating anything. I would be in the middle of the most beautiful moment in Rome or Tangiers or Jerusalem and all I would want to do was be back home, making something.

In my 30s, I figured out how to travel with purpose. Now I write books and make videos. I interview people and do research. So when I reflect on the last sixteen months, there is no dark cloud over any of it. I am living my dream and the fatigue of 40,000 miles driven across the highways of America is not depressing me, but enriching my life experience. I have been filled with a sense of purpose. While I do look forward to the stillness that awaits me, it’s not with a sense of melancholy, but with excitement because I have become completely full of knowledge and stories and fine, fine details and I’m bursting at the seams with it. I’m ready to write.

Our adventure has been absolutely crazy. After the pandemic, we left Thailand for a one-year adventure across America so that I could write a book on the history of American gemcutting. During the trip we discovered that we no longer wanted to live in Thailand anymore, so after 12 months of constant travel, we went “home” and packed it into a shipping container and flew to France. After a month of wandering the beautiful French countryside, we settled into a new “home” which doesn’t yet quite feel like home because after only two months in residency, I left for another two-month adventure (that long winded sentence of cities that I started this article with). I have never been so destabilized, yet I am fully grounded in my purpose and that feels good. I have a guiding light to keep me moving forward and eventually back home.

I was hoping to have a book finished by the end of this year, but it seems that there is only more travel in store for me; a month in France, a month in England, and hopefully a quiet Christmas in France. I hope there is a hot tub in there somewhere. In January, it will be time for the annual pilgrimage to Tucson for the gem show and after that… a joyfully empty calendar. I am fantasizing that in 2024, I will start saying No to these adventures, as it’s seriously becoming difficult to find time to sit down in silence and write. I can’t complain though because, in my weariness, I am having the time of my life and I’m completely aware of it as it’s happening and I couldn't ask for anything more.

Wandering Scholar, Having a Wonderful Time on the Road. Image by Justin K Prim in collaboration with Midjourney AI

About the Author

Justin K Prim is an American gemcutter. He has studied gemcutting traditions all over the world as well as attending gemology programs at GIA and AIGS. Justin has taught gemology and gemcutting at AIGS and IGT in Bangkok and he has recently published his first book, The Secret Teachings of Gemcutting. He is the founder of Faceting Apprentice, an online gemcutting school, and he also writes articles, produces videos, and gives talks about gem cutting history.

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Justin K Prim
Justin K Prim

Gentleman Lapidary | Author | Faceting Instructor | Chronicler of Gemcutting History