Joe finds it hard to deal with his mother, because she doesn’t approve of his decision to devote his life to jazz music. He has taken chance after chance after chance and never given up on his dream, without wanting a job that can tie him down to a boring existence—so she is thrilled by him getting a full-time position at the local school, whereas he is alarmed by it. He confuses his passion for what he loves (music) for his “life’s purpose,” and is startled to realize, when he gets what he wants… the reality does not live up to what he expected. He expected to feel different. Joe goes through a period of selfishness, in that all he wants is to get back to his life, to take his chance, at the cost of another soul getting her chance to “live” – he wants to hijack her trip to earth to return to his own body. He is so eager for his own success he doesn’t want to give her “five minutes” to figure out what she loves about being human. It’s only when he doesn’t feel what he thought he would that he realizes success without depth is cheap, and decides to return to the “zone” and give her a chance at living. Joe has a problem of reading things on a superficial level, and leaping into action without knowing what the consequences might be—from throwing himself off the eternal conveyer belt, to jumping into the earth portal (a dozen times), to bargaining with 22 for her earth badge, to leaping at the chance to make his dream become real, because it’s all he’s ever wanted to do. He assumes that feeling passionate about something means it’s your life’s purpose, and that 22 is only feeling the joys of living because she is in his body; he fails to realize that passion is not what gives you a life spark, but the desire to live at all.

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Joe is just sure that he’s special, and he doesn’t want to share his tastes with anyone else; he becomes offended when 22 is excited about life, because she is in HIS body, using HIS sensations, and… in his mind, Joe is all about Joe. His barber says it’s nice to talk to “him” (22) and get asked about his interests and passions, since usually they are just talking about what Joe cares about, which is jazz. It never occurred to him to take an interest in other people. In that way, he is rather selfish and self-absorbed when he first meets 22, always looking for a way back to “his” life and unconcerned with her need to mature, grow out of her fear, and find a “life.” He wants to become famous, and have his life matter, and is horrified upon looking at his memories to discover that he has had a boring life, stuck in a rut, that is utterly unremarkable and unmemorable. Once given a second chance, he sets out to “live” this time more fully.