Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reasons and Explanations


So I read a post on my Brother's Blog and I realize that many people still have questions about me, my trip and my reasons. People have questions and though I don't feel obligated to answer them, I'll do it anyway. I'll explain what it is I'm doing as clearly as I can and I'll explain how I'm doing it. Hopefully this will clear the air and set people's minds at ease. Hopefully this will clarify everything and lend some understanding.

If not, oh well.

"Where is he sleeping?"
Wherever I can. Sometimes it's an overpass beneath a random interstate where the hum of passing trucks lulls me to sleep. Sometimes it's the house of a kind stranger who opens his doors to me for whatever reason. Sometimes it's in the home of a person I met online. Other times it's in the dirt under trees.

"How is he getting around? Is he hitchhiking? Is he walking?"
Yes. I'm hitching. I'm walking. In states where the cops are cracking down on hitching, I try to find alternate modes of transportation, like taking public busses, which I hate. Taking public transportation makes my trip seem fake and as soon as it's no longer necessary, I'll leave the busses behind and get back to stomping the pavement and holding my thumb in the wind. I'm also walking quite a bit. I've had a blister on top of a blister, which I didn't know was possible and I've blown out my right ankle, twice. But I'm walking and I'm loving it.

"What if he gets mugged?"
Then I get mugged. I'll lose some cash, probably about $8 which is about the most I carry on me. If the guy has a gun, I'll give him what he wants. If he has a knife or comes at me with his fists, I'll almost feel sorry for him. The cash I have won't pay for his medical bills and my kukri will dispense more damage than I can pay for.

"He's crazy. Why would anyone want to do that?"
Because I can, damn it. Because there's a hole inside me that must be filled and this is the only way to fill it. I'm missing something and out here I can find it. It's so close I can feel it. Besides, who wouldn't want to see south Louisiana, Montgomery and Birmingham, Scranton, Boston and Providence for less than $300? Who wouldn't want to see Narragansett Bay or the place where Rosa Parks was taken off the bus? Who wouldn't want to eat in the oldest tavern in the country? Who wouldn't want to make a dozen new friends in three weeks? Who wouldn't want to fulfill their dreams? I'm doing it because I want to and I don't want to be that person who sits around at the age of 80 and says "I wish I had done this or that when I was younger." In short, I don't want to be the kind of person who says "He's crazy. Why would anyone want to do that?" Because that's the kind of person I pity.

"What's he doing about... food, water, shelter?"
So far I've never been more than a day's walk away from an establishment where I can purchase some kind of food. Hell, I'm not sure if it's possible in the eastern half of the country to be more than a day's walk away. I can carry enough food in my pack to last two weeks, if not more.
Water is easy. Every building in the country has running water and most have a faucet outside. Even if they remove the knob, I can still open the valve with my multi-tool. Go ahead, ask me how I know this.
I have a small emergency shelter that has kept me dry when it rains, and for the first two weeks, it rained almost every day.

"What if something happens to him?"
Then it happens. Lots of things have happened to me. I had my travel journal, my most precious possession, stolen from me. I'm still alive, though, so I moved on. I pushed forward and bought a new journal and wrote down everything I could recall. If something else happens, I'll continue moving forward until my trip is done. If I die, I'll be dead. The cops will look at my ID and call my family. If my ID is gone, I have a tattoo of my social security number on my hip. They'll see that and call my family.

More on the Walkabout.
I discovered something about my trip and myself while walking. This happened early on and it's still happening. Going walkabout has certain mental health benefits. Walking all these miles, living simply, going by a natural schedule of eating when hungry and sleeping when tired, leaving everything behind, it strips away layers and layers of crap that we call "life". It breaks you down and grinds you to a pulp. It's difficult and it hurts. You can feel yourself breaking, little by little, until you look inward and realize that there's nothing left. Everything has been stripped away. All the details that once made up your life have fallen away. Your habits, your desires, your ambitions, your pet peeves, your friends, your debts, your love, your hate, your routine, it's all gone. All that's left is you. Raw, clean, fresh, whole, you see the foundation of yourself. You see who you really are, what you're made of. You see your strengths and weaknesses. You see the things you should be ashamed of and the things you should take pride in. You see what's important and what's trivial. You see yourself as you really are and you see what's missing.

Then, with all those extra pieces set aside, you can take inventory of your life and decide what you will keep and what you will discard. You can see where you need to grow. You can see what things in life were holding you back. You can move forward with life on your own path without outside influences. You can begin to reconstruct yourself how you see fit, not how society would have you become. You can purge that which is not important.

The whole process is painful, but wonderful. I'm more healthy, physically and mentally, now than I have been in years. I've grown so much in three weeks I hardly recognize myself. I've changed. I've evolved. I've strengthened. I have more confidence because I've had a taste of what I can do and it's more than I had imagined. I've faced some of the most difficult situations and challenges of my life in only 24 days and I've come out better than when I went in. I've limped 16 miles in a single day. I've had my life threatened. I've lost that which I hold most dear. I've left behind that which I love. I've lost my way. I've broken down. I've cried. I've been rained on. I've been cursed at. I've had garbage thrown at me. I've wished I was home.

I've also seen the sun rise over the treetops. I've seen clear, blue waves crash against a rocky shore. I've hugged children. I've been shown kindness. I've travelled from Birmingham, AL to Scranton, PA in less than 24 hours without spending a dime. I've made new friends. I've driven a go cart through a neighborhood. I've lost weight. I've found my way. I've grown up. I've grown stronger. I've seen green leaves turn gold. I've eaten authentic New England clam chowder. I've made people smile. And most importantly, I've learned that all it takes to live a dream is the ability to put one foot in front of the other until you get there.

That's why I'm doing this.

Any more questions?

4 comments:

Midassa said...

I love the picture! And I truly hope this settles, once and for all, the questions about your trip (except the ones we'll ask you when your trip is complete...about everything you did, saw, smelt, experienced...everything!)

Emily said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Keep on keeping on, Jason. It makes my day every time I get to read a new post even if I never comment.

Paula said...

Bravo! Your posts always make me ponder this season of my life.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad u r finding ur answers, keep the post coming!! Stay safe! -Cassie