A couple weeks before I reached the beach in New Jersey, I posited the question “How do we stop?” to some friends, friends who’ve similarly walked across America. There was a sense of anxiety about an imminent finish line when walking all day, every day had been the norm for much of the past year. Nate, a walker who had finished in San Francisco a month before me admitted his jealousy that I still had weeks to go. It’s not a reluctance to rest, but a want to carry that mad momentum into static life, where each day ends in a predictable place. “Back to the real world,” people have joked in the walk’s waning days. But the epic walker’s life is more real than any I have known.
Following is some of the advice I received from my fellow transcontinental walkers. Their wisdom is universal. It applies to the life we all walk today. “How do we stop?” We don’t!
“You’ll truly need to find some effective way to channel all of this massive energy and momentum. Channel it in a way that benefits you as well as everyone around you. You’ve finished walking across America — something beyond what so many people even think could ever be possible — yet the impossibility of which simply resides within their minds. Perhaps the next tremendous, superhuman feat will be on the same scale for you (I hope you see that it is). Whatever you choose to do next with your time and resources, make the best of it. For if you were to die tomorrow, ideally you’d have a smile on your face in light of the life you’ve been living. Make sure this remains the case throughout your future.”
— George Throop, currently walking amid a tornado warning in Houston (enjoythewalk.com)
“Keep fueling the ‘fire in the belly’! … and yes, KEEP walking. We are built for it. We need it. Others need it. Our communities need it.
— Jonathan Stalls, On-foot Initiator (walk2connect.com)
“Oh my! ‘Ending the walk!’ What a topic! Use the momentum to direct your purpose! If the walk has helped you to become more in your element, then trust it. There is no one saying that you can’t keep walking, so to speak. Keep following your heart and passion, and you may always keep walking (metaphorically or literally!). Keep being extraordinary.”
— Katie Visco, ran across America 2009, founder paveyourlane.com
“Experience everything as it comes. When you do a run or walk like that, you get a new mindset — aware of the moment right in front of you, and how the choices you make right then affect you at the end of the day, the next day. For me, everything became a hell of a lot simpler, and freer. Hold on to whatever mindset you got into and let that guide you towards choosing your “post-adventure” lifestyle.
— Zoë Romano, running cross-country for the Boys & Girls Clubs