A secondary hope I had for this trip is that it would restore some of my faith in humanity. After living for nearly a decade in Baltimore City, where the worst of people is on display for all to see daily, I had gown cynical. I wanted to see people who were living creatively and full of life, not overwhelmed by programming and addictions.
I have found some of what I was looking for in the West. It started in Texas with its independent spirit and gumption. In New Mexico and Arizona I saw people living off the grid and in small make-shift communities consciously living outside of convention. Some of the residents in small desert communities made a big impression upon me. These desert people are not consumed by pursuit of fortune, prestige or ego inflation, but seem content to live simply and cheaply in a barren yet often beautiful landscape. Between the solitude, surroundings and simple living, they seem more connected with something and at peace. The central coast of California, so far, is where I have encountered people most full of life and living at a higher frequency. I couldn’t get out of southern California quick enough, a place where indulging in ego pursuits and selfishness seems extreme, but 100 miles up the coast from Santa Barbra to the north everything changes. The central coast has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and the people are out enjoying it. They are active, love to get out in nature and seem to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. Smiles are frequent and civility is the norm.
Where ever we go, it is the people on the move who have the most profound affect on me. A couple of days a go I met a teenager who graduated from high school last year and has been touring the entire west coast on his bike on less than $3000 he had saved, 4000 miles so far. At 18 he has learned things about life and people that some never come to understand. On our journey we have encountered a variety of nomads; long term hikers and cyclists, nomadic RVers, gypsies and world travelers. Most seem to be at ease and because of their experience, self reliance and understanding of the reciprocal nature of generosity they are easy to talk to and helpful. Recently I met a woman who must have been pushing 90 who is still tent camping and backpacking every chance she gets. She knows all the best campsites in California, is a world traveler who still stays at youth hostels, and next week will be flying to Pakistan for her second time to hike the mountains she missed on her last trip and to enjoy some of the quickly disappearing minority culture. I never tire of listening to people who have put themselves out there. Again and again, they all acknowledge that the universe (God) does provide what you need and life is meant to be enjoyed.