A snaggle-toothed and grizzled man walks along the road, supplies for his journey rolling behind him. How do you react?
To be honest, people who share the road with Steve Fugate feel a great number of uncomfortable emotions, including compassion, fear, pity, and even disgust. There are those who think someone should help get this man off the road and those who think he should settle down and get a job. There are others who try to understand the meaning of his journey and the sign that hangs over his head, proclaiming “Love life”. It’s worth trying to understand.
My creed is to mend the broken heart while it is yet beating. –Steve Fugate
In 1999, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, Steve received word that his beloved son had shot himself. After leaving the trail to bury his son, he returned to finish the trip, crying every step of the way and finding some degree of healing and freedom in mourning his son in such a fashion. He resolved that he would devote himself to letting others know that their lives have value. Not knowing “how to scream on paper”, he decided to walk around the United States encouraging others. In doing so, he has placed himself in a position vulnerable to both the cruelty and kindness of strangers and has forgone the security of a steady job and a permanent home.
He was aided in his first two walks by his daughter, who planned and orchestrated his travels. Tragedy deepened when she, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, died of an accidental drug overdose in 2005. He hasn’t stopped walking since her death. His Facebook page reveals that, at the time of this writing, he is in Oneonta, NY.
This video by Cyrus Sutton is beautiful and honest. There is rough language, but I think we can understand the desire to do away with taboo and subterfuge. Steve affirms that life is difficult, beautiful and worth living, as he experiences pain and joy on the road. He finds himself shored up by the kindness of others daily. What a testament to life and the human spirit!
Video via KORDUROY.tv on Vimeo.