I don’t know where to begin in all honesty.
For the past two nights, whenever I came back to my hotel room, I began to cry without warning. It used to be in the past that I only cried when I argued with my parents, fought with my closest friends; at some point, those tears fell out of my eyes without any notice, and as one former partner said, the extent of that kind of pain for those type of tears, is rare. It used to be that I was a self-centered individual.
The words “I” often began in my sentences. Just try to remember that this is a blog about my experiences and travels, personal insight and thought. Like any person, there had been dreams of grandeur, hoping perhaps to spread awareness and at the same time gain some form of affection. In reality, that is irrelevant to me now, if that can be believed.
I confess that I was a liar. Little white lies, false stories, all for the sake of various reasons – excuses, recognition, support. It seems likely that by such an admittance, you may question the authenticity to the numerous past entries, to the true purpose of this venture, and if that changes your perspective of everything then I make no attempt to persuade you otherwise.
A continued thought, realization even, that has occurred more and more frequently of late is how relative and subjective everything happens to be. What is definite and true at this point is how rapidly things have changed since my journey began. I had thought once that I could handle these individual stories, interactions, and perhaps enable a look into the various topics that have been brought up.
However, to achieve this effect, there could be no room for generalization; rather, a steady combination of each and every person and event. These things add up together, grow in weight, and gradually the realization sinks in as to how astronomical their combined value is worth. In that realization, that each person from any particular place or background, has a story of their own, a history and background, it became very clear how utterly self-centered my sense of perspective had been.
When a person is truly alone, far away, without the added security of having a person closeby in that city, there is a significant impact on the most trivial yet supportive actions. One can only do so much to express gratitude before their actions fall short of patronization and flattery, even if by honest intentions.
At first it seemed that I would say a handful of names, friends and family, upon reaching the top of the Statue of Liberty. As time grew by, the list of names began to grow, evolve, changing from individuals to groups, then to entire organizations and gradually whole city states. You realize, despite having the means, the support of a total stranger, in no measure of length, can mean so much to a person.
You discover humility in ways that, from what I theorize, is impossible without being in that situation. It is by far one of the most intense yet fulfilling realizations in my entire life. What few people understand, I believe, in my opinion, is how such an opportunity – to take such a risk, abandoning security, pitting oneself to the world – is truly available to others. For many it is a frightening concept, reckless and dangerous; for those, like the ones outside on the streets, not the liars or the con artists, it is an every day realization.
You become all too aware of what you truly are and what you are capable of; what your principles compose of, where your loyalties lie, and the extent of your own integrity. Left alone to reflection, given any length of time these discoveries will shape and define you; these experiences will forge a new perception, forcing you to adapt to them, by circumstance and by choice.
It will test you in ways that you cannot imagine and even if I could, I would not, even fully describe. This type of journey will challenge everything you have learned and break you if your heart is unprepared; it is a journey that will test every fiber of your self-independence, also testing your resolve and determination. You become all too aware of how fortunate you are, despite what you once thought, to have all that you possess.
I have always been sentimental and described as dramatic. If words provide a voice, a message; if my commentary, truly, is as gifted as people say; then simply put these things are all too serious a discovery to exaggerate. These are truths hidden to others, often untold by those who have shared similar journeys. It is a very personal subject.
I had thought I was tough and intelligent, aware of the ways of the world. I had thought I would be capable of handling these situations, ignore the impact of stories, and focus on the task ahead. What has happened or is happening, may be what is called an epiphany or simply, change itself.
I have barely managed to scratch the mid-West, still far away from my goal, and already the tolls are setting in. I’ve had thoughts about going back home, about being amongst friends and family, safety. I had thought about abandoning this quest. I could, being direct at this point, turn back and ignore these discoveries, brush them off for being overly sentimental, dramatic, or whatnot. It would cost me nothing, perhaps save much more money, to go back, the ire and anger of everyone else be damned.
But, in the strangest of ways, the most powerful of ways, I have discovered a source of strength that I feel every person, from all over this planet, should find. I have found a source of strength that must never be lost, that I thought I had before, but only recently found it now.
I have found hope.
Hope is a powerful word. It is a word that has enabled men and women to triumph where others could not. It has pushed people to new horizons, pulled them out from the darkest hour, and inspires in ways that regular healing could not. It is drawn from many different sources, many discoveries, and can create or destroy entire movements, ideas, and perhaps anything in an instant.
It is the hope, that the kindness of these people I would have never met, their stories that I would have never heard, and their support that I would have never gained would have ALL been worth something in the end.
It is the hope, that the few people that have approached me, from time to time, to thank me for inspiring them, was all worth it to begin with; that somewhere, far away, these stories may change and affect, in positive ways, others that would have never heard them. It is the hope, that these sights and sounds, these actions both small and large, had accumulated something that is far bigger than myself, than any one person, but rather everyone as a whole.
It is the hope – that small bit of hope – that drives me forward, relentlessly, that has prompted these tears, encouraged me, towards that one inevitable goal. It is the hope that YOU, yes, you, may discover that kind of hope as well, and understand the context of all that it represents.
This hope, this feeling, is absolutely liberating. It has made even the loneliest of nights seem like nothing, the furthest and hottest of roads seem short, and the simplest of emotions so enriching.
Hope had brought me out the door, allowed me to travel all this distance on my own. It has and had always been the reason why I chose to pay tribute, chose to discover and learn, and carry it with me to the very ‘beacon’ of hope. I would not trade that for anything. I would not surrender it. I will fight, even die, to protect it. I shit you not. I want only for you to find hope, no matter how bleak things may seem, that it should change you for the better, give you strength at everything you pursue.
Going back now is NOT an option. There have been far too many people all around I have met, within and outside of this culture, to have their efforts go to waste; people from long ago, that have endured worse things than anyone in today’s age, to simply ignore; that for everyone, for hope, I will make it to the top of that fucking statue and fly that flag as high as I could reach.
Hope is an emotion and it is such a simple thing.