Tuesday, August 14, 2007

so let's think out loud here...

What's a good name for the walk I want to do? I've begun to narrow the concept down a bit, and have whittled it into this:

I'm planning to walk across America next year, starting in early May, after my mother's birthday (May 4), which gives me time to celebrate her birthday, say goodbye, then head out to the west coast to begin the walk. My contract with Smoo ends in late April, which gives me a few days to get out of Dodge, sniff around my hometown a bit, and then fly or drive west.

The walk's route will be roughly from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon or Washington) to the Atlantic, close to Washington, DC. I don't see this as a "Washington to Washington" walk so much as a "sea to shining sea" walk. I doubt I'll do something as goofily symbolic as hauling along a bottle of Pacific seawater to dump in the Atlantic (the bodies of water are, ultimately, connected! why bother dumping?), but I might want to do something symbolic to mark the passage from west to east. Not sure what yet.

The theme of the walk is interreligious relations, and I'd like for the walk to be characterized by mendicancy-- i.e., I put my life in the hands of charitable others. No food along the journey except what I'm given-- no shelter except where people are willing to shelter me (failing that, it's the open sky for me, or camping if it's stormy or wintry). Because I'm hoping to "connect the dots" by going from church to synagogue to temple to mosque to ashram, I don't see the mendicant strategy as a major logistical problem: I'm pretty sure the country is stocked with enough charitable folks to allow me a night's stay, and I will, of course, be prepared to do some hard labor in exchange for an evening's room and board.

One consideration, though, is that I'm gambling on averaging about 20-30 miles of walking per day, and on being able to hit the aforementioned churches, temples, etc. before I hit the 30-mile mark. Will that be possible? In the middle of the country, I suspect the houses of worship will be few and far between in some spots. On such days, will I either wuss out and camp or will I trudge onward and do 40-50 miles? There's still a ton of planning to be done in this regard.

Anyway, that's the basic concept for the walk. My buddy Dr. Steve warned me not to make this concept public because someone might steal the idea, but my feeling is that the idea will be time-stamped when I publish this entry, and as soon as someone leaves a comment here, that comment will be time-stamped as well. I might be able to alter the time stamp of my blog entry, but I can't alter a commenter's time stamp. Plus, I've got email records to back me up if it becomes a question of who said what when... not that I see myself getting into a court battle about a religious project. I'm not reflexively litigious like Deepak Chopra.

So... what's a catchy name for this sort of walk? Godwalk is out; I'm not much of a "Goddish" person in the classical theistic sense, and if I'm going to be shacking up with nontheists of various stripes, "God" seems a bit too confining as a description of this project. Spiritwalk would be out for similar reasons; it has theistic overtones and an unnecessarily American Indian ring. I don't want to go sci-fi with monikers like Skywalk or Religion Trek, nor do I want to trespass into Nimoyville with a name that includes the word search. As much as it pains me, I also want to avoid vulgarity in the label, so Shitwalk and Fuckwalk aren't contenders, and neither are Snatchwalk and Clitwalk. And Ballwalk hurts just in the hearing.

So I'm open to suggestions. Maybe something in a foreign language might be more apropos, or maybe I should grab a religious concept that might be specific to one religion, but is found almost universally in other religions.

More meditations on next year's walk are on the way, but I thought I'd begin with the ancient question of naming. Float me your comments.



Anonymous said...

Does the name for this project have to be in the form of "somethingwalk," or are you open to other suggestions as well? Maybe something more wordy like "Journey Across the Soul of America" (not an actual suggestion... just typed the first thing that came to mind)?

Anyway, I think with a few more words you might be able to better convey the spirit of the trip. I happen to be dry of ideas at the moment, unfortunately.

Also, at a pace of 20-30 miles a day, you may have a hard time finding sources of food if you are going to rely solely on mendicancy. There will most likely be some sparsely populated stretches along the way. I guess you'll have a better idea of what to expect when you plan out your exact route.

Kevin Kim said...

Anything goes. It doesn't have to be "Somethingwalk."

re: supplies

I'm hoping that people might be willing to supply me for the next leg of the journey, but I'm debating whether I should ask for such supplies. Leaning toward not asking.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps as a backup but still charity-based solution to getting through parts of the West and Midwest you could accept contributions via PayPal for food – especially enough to get you to the next Church.

Depending on your route, I’d say it’s at least 2,850 miles, probably a little more if you get scenic. Call it 3,000 at 30 miles a day is 100 days, or just over three months; it’s going to be hot as hell (heh).

But you’ll have awesome book material – maybe even some talk shows – and will loose a lot of weight. I envy you.

You must have thought about the necessities, like this;


Anonymous said...

How 'bout:

*"Your bird is cooked"

*"Tarred and feathered in Nostoplightsherecuzitsasmalltownville"

*"Skinned in Satanworshipperburg"

Anonymous said...

May I encourage you to start in the Canadian Vancouver? I would be happy to assist you in the pursuit of mendicancy!

kwandongbrian said...

I think the idea of you marching across the country with nothing but the clothes on your back and maybe a Moses-style staff in hand, but you will need some serious and careful planning to do the hike across the Rockies even into the beginning of July. I suffered through snow during that time on my ride through the Canadian Rockies.

"Zen and the art of hiking-boot maintenance"

"What rough beast, slouching toward Bethesda: KEVIN"

Malcolm Pollack said...

Well, seeing as to the extent you are religious at all, you're primarily a Christian, and because you are walking aCROSS North America, why not "Crosswalk"? Too sectarian, perhaps...

It's an excellent project, and I wish I could join you.

kwandongbrian said...

I think the idea of you marching across the country with nothing but the clothes on your back and maybe a Moses-style staff in hand is cool...

daeguowl said...

How about "Alms and legs", I think it suitably conveys the idea of mendicancy and also the exercise/alking aspect of it...

Anonymous said...


No idea what to name your walk, but a couple of other thoughts.

1. Hope you invest in one or two pairs of very nice walking shoes before you hit the road.

2. Are you going to be keeping us in the loop via your blog (and photos to boot)? Maybe some of your hosts will grant you internet access.

Good luck with the planning.