- A walk around the world, to meet people around the world one by one, day after day
- walked solo around the world–across 21 nations in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America
I know exactly what I want to do—be a writer and walk around the world!”
I was sitting at my reporter’s desk at the Star-Tribune, when I realized how terribly little I knew about the daily lives and dreams of the everyday people in the other parts of the world. Sure I knew what the newspapers and television said about our world, but what were those people really like? I couldn’t believe they were all that different from me. Nor could I bring myself to join the chorus of fear and cynicism that seemed to be everywhere in American society and the world in general.
A walk around the world, to meet people around the world one by one, day after day. What followed were six years of hard work, of laying the foundations upon which to pursue a dream that must have appeared impossible to any rational person.
My preparations included: toiling for three and one-half years on drilling rigs in Wyoming and Montana, to save enough money to finance the walk; camping alone for months in the deserts and mountains, to toughen myself mentally and physically; visiting the other nations’ embassies in Washington, D.C., to gain the necessary permissions; and scrutinizing maps in libraries.
At last, all that remained was to put on my backpack, which I named “Clinger,” and take that first step towards the rising sun. The time had come to seek the answers to those questions of my mind and heart.
On the morning of April 1, 1987, I returned to that village of Bethel, having indeed walked solo around the world–across 21 nations in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. And having also lived with some 400 families (with some for weeks or even months), and having penned nearly 100 dispatches to my American newspaper readers. I had left a fool, but I returned to a hero’s welcome. And yet it was not the fame I had sought, but simply knowledge and the chance to share it with others. I had walked from village to village, nation to nation, simply because I wanted to learn about the peoples of our world.
I have seen in the thousands of letters I have received from my book readers and lecture audiences that that unique journey has indeed helped others to realize that our world is a place of awesome physical and spiritual beauty. They, too, have recognized that love, not hate, is the strongest force in our world, and that we as adults can experience life with the same openness, exuberance, interest, playfulness and joy that we felt as children.