Friday, October 28, 2011

11-Year Walk Around the World

On August 18, 2000, Jean Beliveau celebrated his 45th birthday. His small neon-sign business had gone bankrupt, so he decided to run around the world to try to escape the emotional pain in his life.

"Stupid is as stupid does." Forest Gump

He left his home in Montreal, Canada, and ran all the way to Atlanta, Georgia. At that point, he continued his trek, but at a slower pace, walking instead of running.

Over the next 11 years, Beliveau walked 46,600 miles, across 64 countries.

He started out with $4,000 in his pocket. But as he travelled, his girlfriend continued financial support, sending him about $4,000 each of the 11 years.

Along the way, Beliveau was mugged in South Africa, ate insects in Africa and snakes in China, was escorted by soldiers in the Philippines, spent a night in jail in Ethiopia (for no apparent reason) and went through 53 pairs of shoes.

Occasionally, he slept under bridges and in homeless shelters. But most of the time it was strangers who supplied much of his food and places to sleep.

"It was the poorest people who gave me the most," Beliveau declared. "I knocked on the doors of the privileged, asking them and they refused. Some even threatened me. The poor shared what they had."

Not surprising -- those who lust for luxury and bling-bling usually don't want to share it with others. But those who are content (sufficient) with modest surroundings are often willing to help others in need. It's human nature -- greed is based on fear and the acquisition of possessions becomes of primary self-importance to those who never seem to have enough personal wealth.

At some point along the way, his girlfriend, Luce Archambault, suggested to Beliveau that he could use his adventure to promote non-violence toward children (in support of a United Nations proclamation).

Beliveau returned to square one (Montreal) on October 17, 2011. It would become the longest uninterrupted walk around the world.

Pardon my cynicism, but hiking for 11 years around the entire planet to promote non-violence against children is a lot like masturbating 1,000 times to end world hunger -- it makes no sense and it smacks of self-indulgence.

Accomplishing the task was quite remarkable, but don't spoil it by trying to mold yourself into a hero. You did it because you chose to escape your problems rather than overcome them, not because you had any intention of healing mankind.

During my mid life crisis many moons ago, I once had 22 shots of whiskey to promote world peace -- apparently, it didn't work.

Quote for the Day -- "Everything is within walking distance if you have the time." Steven Wright

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where running away from problems usually creates additional problems.

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