I may appear to suffer from some sort of compulsive repetition syndrome, but these rituals are important to me. I have many places where I sit and think, “I have been here before, I am here now, and I will be here again.” Sometimes, lost in reverie, I remember myself approaching across the same green, or down the same footpath, in 1962 or 1983, or many other times. Sometimes Chaz comes along on my rituals, but just as often I go alone. Sometimes Chaz will say she’s going shopping, or visiting a friend, or just staying in the room and reading in bed. “Why don’t you go and touch your bases?” she’ll ask me. I know she sympathizes. These secret visits are a way for me to measure the wheel of the years and my passage through life. Sometimes on this voyage through life we need to sit on the deck and regard the waves.
Walking across the continent is not a new thing, but the extent of North American civilization has made it a different experience from what it was in the past. There was a time when there were no accurate maps and many areas were sparsely populated or populated by unknown cultures. The likelihood of reaching the destination was nearly impossible. Today, we have maps, roads, lodging and a high probability of meeting a friendly stranger. It has, however, become harder to wean ourselves from our digital culture and place ourselves in the vulnerable position of wandering. This article by Kate Murphy from the New York Times Opinion Page speaks of men and women who have done just that.