Why I’m walking across America

When I was 16 or so, one of my internet girlfriends stood me up for a date. We made plans and she was a total no show. I don’t know why. She never explained. In fact, I never talked to her again after that.

How do you think I responded to that situation?

In my teenage world, girls ruled. Boobies were king. Getting stood up by the king made me feel restless and awkward, and I did not know what to do with myself. So I went for a walk.

Didn’t know where I was going exactly, didn’t care. Had to let the travesty process, so just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Before I knew it I was outside the city limits.

Oh, cool. You can get places without a car.

The hours creeped on by, alone on the road in the middle of the night.

Eventually a lady police officer pulled up beside me.

“Good evening, officer,” I said (and on the inside quipped: I’ve always wanted to say that).

She had me get in the back of her car (made me feel kinda cool) and drove me home, all while offering some kind words of encouragement.

Right as she dropped me off at home, she said I could call her anytime if I needed to talk.

Me, being God’s gift to women of course, took her gentle gesture as, “Aw yeah, the lady cop can’t get enough of this Andrew Hicks action right here.”

Never saw her again.

Or maybe I have. She could have given me a ticket ten years later for all I know.
Point of all that is, though, the part where I walked. One foot after another, into the night, not stopping to ponder consequences. Just me and thoughts. Cognitive gears, turning. And it was good.

There have been variations of that walk all throughout my life in a variety of contexts.

At times, to escape discomfort. Other times to run towards promises of love and warmth (which is really just escaping the discomfort of loneliness and coldness).

Walking because there is nothing else to do. The car broke down and it is 1997 and only rich people have cell phones. Better start hoofing it.

To sort out thoughts. To prove points. For bragging rights (I wish I could see my life statistics on a scorecard to see how many miles I have trekked).

Rough and complicated times are perfect for walks. Gets oxygen flowing into blood, carried through veins, all over my body. Gets ideas flowing. Pokes holes through mountains of impossibility so that I can see little crevices which squiggle through the rock, making their way out to the light and air on the other side.

And well, lately, things are about as rough and complicated as they get. Life is upheaving big chunks of nastiness all over the place.

I have made plenty of choices I am not proud of in recent months. Choices I’d theoretically like to take back, but that theory doesn’t hold much weight considering that I have continued making those choices (blasted boobies).

Note to self (and probably everyone): do not get involved with married women (unless you’re married to them).

It’s bad. Real bad. To the point where I cannot talk about what’s going on in my life without getting embarrassed. I hate writing this right now. Let’s change the subject.

But I am stuck.

Stuck in habits and tendencies. Patterns like mad, around and around and around, again and again and again, nasty beer, heaping loads of pizza, and now look out because here comes the cough medicine.

I’m tired of writing about the bad stuff. But I write it because I live it. All I’m here to do is write my truth, whatever form it may take. Sometimes it is hideous and other times it is magnificent, but it is always the truth (or at least the way I see and understand the truth).

But golly, isn’t it redundant? Redundant for me as a writer. Probably for you as a reader. Maybe disturbing. Maybe boring.

(Be honest. How many times have I made you do this?)

These are just words on a screen to you. This is my life.

I want to get to the good stuff.

But again. Stuck.

So I am going to do what I do best.

Well, a couple of things that I do best.

The first one is walk.

(Maybe you saw that coming?)

I am going to walk far. Well, relatively. Far for me. How far? Don’t know. As far as my legs will carry me, and then some probably. I am aiming for Oregon because it is a land that I love very much. But maybe some other land will call out to me along the way. I am openminded about this. But, probably Oregon.

The other stuff I’ll do best along the way:

1. Write. I just quit my job, but I have not quit working. I’ll just embrace the cliche and proudly say that my work is just beginning. This adventure and everything about it is intended to be fuel for my creative inferno. Names may or not be changed to protect the innocent.

2. Mutate. Yes, I am going to mutate. Like a ninja turtle. They started out as cute little turtles in the sewer. Then they became ninjas. If a turtle can become a ninja, then why can’t I become successful on my own terms?

Don’t play the fiction card with me. Ninja turtles are more than fiction. They started off as an idea in someone’s head. Now you can see them beat up bad guys and flirt with Megan Fox and spout off bad one liners.

Right now my success is an idea in my head and when it gets out it is going to beat up the stagnation monster, flirt with new frontiers, and definitely spout off bad one liners.

3. Change the world. I make a difference. So do you. All the time. Right now. You can keep that in mind or forget about it, but the impact you make doesn’t diminish either way.

When I sit around and drink myself into depression, what kind of difference am I making? I drain those around me. I tear people down when they have ideas or just want to help. I give dirty looks. Sometimes my armpits stink. No one appreciates that. Worst case scenario, I could commit suicide. Or just die of a lonely, broken heart. Then my family would suffer the ultimate insult and tragedy and women all over the world would wither to dust because their purest gift from God would be gone from this world.

So how about I do the opposite of all that?

Every time I improve a life, my life gets better too. And then I can take the high I get from that and spread it around even more.

This is the polar opposite of a downward spiral.

4. Get in shape. After cycling through years of gaining and losing weight, I have demonstrated that I can drop a load of pants sizes without batting an eye lash (and put it back on before you can say “stuffed crust pizza”). So when I come away from this in peak physical shape, it should surprise no one.
It will be awesome regardless.

5. Get inspired (by bizarre experiences). One of the reasons I adore Portland, Oregon so much is because it is virtually impossible to go for a walk downtown without ending up in unexpectedly timely and awkwardly personal conversations with strangers. There are people everywhere, and a lot of them really need to talk. This leads to some hilarious intrusions of comfort zones, which is OK, because comfort zones are like air bags: nice to have in case of a crash, but not appropriate to inflate in most contexts.

Getting uncomfortable is good for you as long as it doesn’t kill you.

Not being killed is inspiring.

Some extra bullet points:

6. Sort and focus goals.

7. Meet people, learn lessons, and develop many skills that will set the stage for the next act of my life.

8. Other stuff. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

I have a gift inside me, deep in my center. A gift for everyone I meet, I hope. A gift for people who stumble onto my words. A gift for you.

The gift is my love and compassion, my unconditional acceptance and my yearning to understand you. It is my reassuring eyes during a hard time, it is a tight, warm hug from me on a cold, wet day. It is my rigorous and capable effort to build bridges between seemingly irreconcilable perspectives, no matter who scoffs and differs.

My gift is my absolute belief that the human race can evolve, that we can grow out of our attachment to hurting and killing one another. Outgrow addiction to fear and getting doped up on the media’s fear-infused hate-mongering.

But this gift, like a seed, needs to be nourished in order to grow. It cannot be nourished by the way I have been living these days.

This is my way of getting stirred up. Breaking up the stagnation. Getting the blood flowing.

Bad habits down the drain. Restart, reboot, reset.

My adventure, to keep my gift alive and worth giving!

Also published on Medium.