Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why I walked from coast to coast

You're probably going to think I'm a selfish jerk after you read what I say here, but I'm going to say it anyway because I'm an honest person who believes critical thinking is infinitely more valuable and respectable than just saying what you know people want to hear. Besides, with what I've done, my voice matters now, even if no one listens to it.

There are at least a couple other people in the middle of coast-to-coast walks right now. These guys are receiving tons of attention that I didn't receive, mostly because they have causes, which they promote to a ridiculous extent.

I want to let you in on something: The idea to do a long walk comes long before the idea to have a cause, except in a few rare instances. People don't walk because they have a cause. Rather, they start planning a walk because they've become sick of life's bullshit and they don't know what else to do. After having a while to think about it, they come up with a cause because they realize a cause is an easy way to get attention, which might be the cheap ticket to a bullshit-free life. Then they come up with a heroic-sounding name for their walk because they realize people buy into that kind of propaganda. Although I think the guys doing this are decent people, I have no respect for the way they use phony causes to trick people for attention.

I knew way before I began my walk that I could attract a lot of media attention by having a cause. But unlike most other ultra-long-distance-walkers, I chose not to have a cause because I have integrity.

So if I didn't do this for attention, why does it piss me off that other walkers are getting attention?

Because I'm human, I guess, and because only I know what an amazing feat I've just accomplished.

What I did was infinitely more difficult than what these other guys are doing. Unlike the others, I carried all my gear at all times. No carts on wheels for my stuff, and nobody bringing me water or supplies. Unlike the others, I had to sleep outside almost every night, whether it was 10 degrees or 90 degrees (which was the norm for three months). With these temperatures, I didn't get much quality rest.

I had almost no money and no comfort. Since I didn't write "HERO" all over myself for everyone to see, I regularly had to deal with dirty cops (and I even spent three nights in jail). For over two months, in the desert and Rocky Mountains, I had a backpack with a broken frame, which put almost all of the weight on my left shoulder. (Back then I was carrying 60-65 lbs, sometimes more.) Yet with all this stuff making it difficult for me, I still averaged 16.5 miles a day (or 18.5 miles a day if you don't count off-days). That may not seem like a lot of daily miles to you, but you have no idea. Believe me, 16.5 miles a day over 211 days with an average of 55 lbs on your back is absolutely nuts.

I have beaten up my body in ways almost no one else can comprehend (including the cause-walkers). I hurt like hell constantly, and the pain is not going to end for a long time, if ever.

No, I didn't do this for media attention, but I feel like I've earned some attention and recognition, and I'm a little disappointed that I haven't received any. And honestly, it really bugs me that these other guys have been treated like heroes by the masses for doing something that really doesn't compare to what I've done.

So do you want to know why I did this coast-to-coast walk?

I did it because I said I could do it. I did it because I can do anything I tell you I can do. If I can't do something, I won't tell you I can do it.

Taking it a step farther: If I tell you I am THE BEST at something, it's because I really am the best. If I'm not the best, I won't tell you I'm the best.

Having said that, I want you to know that I am the best when it comes to making and selling pizza. I can do it better than anyone. That's not arrogance; it's confidence in knowledge. I admit I have a lot left to learn about owning a business, but that's the easy part. The hard part is learning how to create a marketable product, then selling that product to people, and I figured out how to do that a long time ago. So if there's any smart money out there reading this, you really ought to consider sending some of it this way because I'll turn it into more money.

You've all heard the term "Put your money where your mouth is." Yeah, well, I don't have any money, so I put my body where my mouth is, for seven months, 24 hours a day. (There probably aren't many people who could have done it in less than 9 months.)

I'm not a talker; I'm a doer. Now that I've done the hardest, most painful thing anyone can do, I'm very proud of the accomplishment and I want it to mean something. I want to be able to create some good jobs for a few handfuls of people who currently have no avenues available. I want to lead by example by paying my workers a higher hourly wage than I pay myself. And if I can somehow find my own avenue to that reality, then maybe I will eventually have the power to create even more good jobs in other ways.

Now that's a noble cause.

The sorry shape of our economy is not an accident. "The way we've always done it" is the problem. People like me are the solution.

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