In May of 2006 I went to New York City as my point of departure for a coast to coast walk through the United States populace. I'd been training for the walk in my home territory and had decided I wanted to conclude those efforts in the big city.
In the last stages of those preparations I discovered, via an MRI, that I had a seriously compromised spine and was advised not to go on the trip.
But I didn't want to give it up.
Instead, I lived in the city for about six months as I saw three medical professionals, did specific exercises, and received specialized treatments. I spent the remainder of my money including some that my Father had given me, and began using funds that were additionally provided by him. This last, I'll only say for now, I did not easily nor happily do.
By early December my back seemed to have come around. I was nearly ready to depart when I shot the first video of my "offerings" to you from the roof of a warehouse in Queens.
On December 22nd, 2006, I stood at my official departure point, the World Trade Center site. I fitted my body and my backpack with yellow and black signs that read "WALKING COAST TO COAST, TALKING ABOUT US, MINDSMAYMEET.ORG". I strapped on the pack, stepped out from behind a pillar, and strode off for the West coast.
I did not have the money nor the desire to stay in hotels except for one instance when I paid for lodging in reaction to an abscessed tooth---a problem which also forced me to locate and walk to three separate dentists. Aside from that stay and the several times I was offered shelter as a kindness from strangers, I walked, ate, slept and lived day to day in the outdoors and temperatures that occasionally dipped below zero.
As far as the website, several valued sources informed me that they thought the "offerings" were to lengthy and indirect. More troubling than that, it seemed there was something constantly standing between myself and the essence of what I'd planned to say with them, and I struggled terribly to add content to the site---a struggle which, day by day, I most often lost.
Because of this and in light of the grand pursuit I'd publicly come out with, I experienced great frustration and humiliation and felt I was helplessly watching my objective steadily pull away from me. I didn't know where or how to address this part of the situation because I simply didn't understand it enough.
I just kept trying.
You might think the cold was disruptive as well. It was not, but all the gear I was carrying to survive in it turned out to be my undoing. By the time I made it to Bucyrus Ohio, I had developed a severe stress fracture in the middle of my right foot.
I still did not want to give up on my objective.
I stayed in Ohio, in a homeless shelter. My stay there stretched out to a bewildering four months as, even with the help of five health professionals, my injury seemed unwilling to heal.
At the end of that time I felt that I could wait no longer. If I was to pass safely over the Rockies before winter came again, I had to leave very quickly. With great disappointment I had my bicycle sent to me. I built signs to put on it's front and back, and fitted it with racks and bags.
Around July 18th I began biking Westward, intent on pedaling with only my heels until my foot had recovered enough to bear the pack again. Just before I left I managed to put new content on the website. But doing so was once again an immense struggle and I had not fully discerned why this was.
By the time I'd ridden to Lincoln Nebraska, the nature of the new interactions---or glaring lack thereof---with the media and bystanders from the seat of a bike had made something painfully clear to me. The potential of what I might have achieved by walking, talking and writing the entire way had become irreversibly out of my reach.
But enabling that potential was still overwhelmingly my greatest and only desire. It was really the only thing I wanted to do.
So I decided to try again---to start all over. I was very concerned about my emotional, psychological and physical limitations, but I still had faith in my capacity to both grow and compensate through the use of what I'd already experienced and would experience further. I also felt if I was to try again I needed to do it right away to best optimize the outcome. But that very course of action also gave rise to the only thing that gave me pause: my guilt about spending some more of my Father's money.
My Dad was behind me one hundred percent and seemed to believe the higher potential of what I was trying to do could be very important. I myself still believed it was important as I had from the beginning. Specifically I believed that the importance it held was not just in relation to myself but to all of us. That was the reason I came out here in the first place.
I am, frankly, very uncomfortable and embarrassed about spending my Dad's money. I haven't been able to get beyond it regardless of his assurances. But I believed what I was trying to get at with this whole thing was more important than my pride, my Dad's money, anybody's alternate theories about my motivations, or what have you.
With the above in mind, I chose to live in a friend's pawn shop in Lincoln as I re-planned for a new and more southerly, West to East crossing. When I'd achieved a certain level of progress I took a bus to L.A. and stayed with another friend for the final preparations.
On November 26th, 2007, I shot the short clip below just prior to departing from the beach that bordered the Santa Monica pier in California.
I once again donned my backpack and some new signs. I had reduced the number of words in the signs by changing the name of the web site to part of my earlier "slogan". They now read "talkingaboutus.org WALKING COAST TO COAST. With these last preparations, I set off on my new commitment to walk from the West coast back to the World Trade Center site.
It is now April 30th, 2008, and I have thus far walked fifteen-hundred miles to Dallas. I've tromped through freezing cold and face peeling winds. I've both awoken and crossed paths with venomous creatures. I've walked across the Mohave Desert, passed through dust storms, and among fires and tornadoes.
Through it all I've blundered, often painfully, 'round the maze of my own identity, purpose, limitations, and potential and this has severely hampered my progress several times. Consequently, withering heat and humidity have now caught me in the South. For this I am entirely responsible, but that doesn't make walking twenty miles with a forty pound pack in humid mid-ninties sun and sweat any easier. I've now veered straight North to put distance between myself and this Southern steam bath.
I do not say anything here, by any means, to brag. I just want you to understand, not how tough I am or whatever, but how important I believe my subject matter is.
Without hesitation I would go through much worse than both the above and what probably lies yet before me in order to develop and get in front of you, through face to face conversations, what I want to talk about and offer, and what I hope to inspire with here.
I hope you check it out.
Thank you for your time. -your felow human