With less than a thousand miles till these tires touch Atlantic waters, the realization of a closing chapter creeps with greater frequency. There was a moment, way back in west Texas, one of those moments we like to call clarity, where the reoccurring reminder of how this journey is, in its absolute essence, all about people - We the People. The dramatic scenery had faded well before crossing Roy Bean's Pecos, but it was in his desolate, lonesome rolling desert stretch where wild nature offered the necessary void to be filled with that profound, lasting reflective impression.
Where or what would we be without those extremes? And not just extreme places, but radical people, far-flung ideas, ludicrous lifestyles, and strange creations. People that make the debate, people that push it too far forth, and those that tug back against senseless attack. We are the world's melting pot of people and recalling the calm, steady words of Austin's Joe Jistel, "It takes all types".
How fortunate I have been to have met so many good people over these past 94 days. Colorful details of their random acts of kindness, sincere generosity, and wholesome hospitality would fill a library's chambers with an endless adventure series. From complete stranger to stranger, situations arise that drive an excitement, an invigorating enthusiasm for life, a jingling of the keys to why we humans thrive.
With so much published negativity circulating the airwaves and paper treys, it may not seem the case. I believe that many of us are able to make the distinction between entertainment and objective attempt, but it doesn't discount the fact that so much fear, hate, and opposition are purposely perpetuated throughout popular media, showboat political arenas, rash advertising, and sadly, some of our religious institutions. This doesn't always match up to the realities that I see on our streets, let alone the attitudes and personalities I meet. Don't get me wrong, we've got major problems in this world being caused by problem people, but it doesn't warrant much of the anxiety or distrust that feeds the false expectations some of us have for some of our fellow citizens - world citizens included.
Without picking another stick to batter this beaten horse diatribe, I'll end by saying that it's rare to taste the surprising bitter bite of a bad apple - let alone one that's rotten to the core. For every Wall Street greed crazed criminal, there's 100,000 honest money pushers. And with relative similar ratio, the same could probably be said of the crooked con-artist to autonomous artisan; out-right thief to life-long philanthropist; Mississippi racist to refined southern gentleman.
To say a few words for the latter half of that last example, I have been blind-sided by the royal treatment received here in the big river state. The compliment carries the same weight in my sentiments towards the people of Louisiana. Both similar scenarios as I described with bad rap El Paso - people of places and places made by people that, to me, have defied expectations and many skewed common assumptions. There's an open, honest assuredness in their character, a steadiness, a patience, genuine concern and interest in the exchange, and often a subtle ease to their kindness that let's me know that I'm in the presence of good, down home folk that I could mistake for my own.
So from here, and as this journey's end draws near, I'll be introducing you to the good people I've met along the way. From the McGrath's back in Seattle to the anonymous man who I think was the one that bought me dinner (and dessert) last night. They are good people that have supported my journey to make it across country and effort to help our wounded soldiers. They weren't afraid to talk, to ask questions, to take time out of their day...