Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Within 48 hours I had posted my lease, said goodbye to my best friend and told my boss. Within 2 weeks I would be living out of a Subaru for the next 6 months.
"So, I think I'm going to walk across the United States."
I laughed. "Okay, good for you."
We had been taking a walk, and I could smell water from the sprinklers on the pavement as the sides of my feet got wet. "So. Why?"
"I just think it's needed. I mean, so much is going on, and I think I'm in a position to do something. I'm just going to do this big cross country hike and try to draw attention to humanity, you know, and all the good and that."
His best friend had become my good friend in the past few weeks, and I knew a bit about how these guys operated. Still, this was a surprise.
When we got back to my door, he looked uncomfortable.
"But if you had to - could you do the project without James..?" he said slowly, eyes fixed on me. I looked at him for a minute. Then it clicked.
"No - " I said. "No, no, no, no, noooo Paul, no, you're not. Tell me you're not." He smiled that painful smile, gritting his teeth and wincing at the same time. "Yes?" "Paul, I hate you and I can't believe - " Then I stopped.
"Yes. Yeah, of course you can take James. I'll be alright."
James and I had been working on a socially conscious project for a while now, and he had quickly become my right hand man. Losing him was literally losing my right arm. It would hurt.
I hope someone feeds you
We had gone out that night to see the guys off, a final hurrah among friends, and I couldn't sleep. "Do you guys need help with social media?" I asked, reaching James the next day on Signal and wishing him luck.
"Sure, we could always use someone when we're out of network. Yeah, actually, that would be great."
The next morning was more of the same. Couldn't focus. Couldn't think about anything - but water.
How much water does it take to cross desert terrain for 14 days, going 20 miles a day on foot? How much water can you possibly carry? How likely are they to be able to get replenishment along the way if there's no gas station within a 2-days' journey? How long is Nevada?
And so it went. Until I realized that everyone who had ever done it had either wheeled around a cart and planned for months (nope), or had an entourage. These guys had neither. I called them.
"I'm going with you."
And so it began. Two people crossing the country for peace became three, and it will soon and oftentimes be more, but never less. What began as a crazy hike became something with hands and feet, something to take off work for, something to work around, something that (silver linings) the new remote work schedule could work with, something that could actually work.
So maybe these ideas - peace, acceptance, kindness - also go from platitudes to practical. From crazy notions to something that moves, that breathes, that people take time in and time out for, something that works. Something that works for you. Something that works for everybody. Or at least for most people, enough of the time.
And that's perhaps the essence of this whole trip. Turning the unlikely possible. Making the long shot, the shot. Making something nebulous and fantastical and idealistic into something you've actually seen someone do.
Like peace, acceptance, and kindness.