I remember something Richard Flanagan, the Tasmanian writer, said in an interview with Richard Fidler some years ago. He was speaking about the nature of writing novels and that when a book is written, the writer leaves a part of themselves in those words forever. I think it’s a beautiful idea, and it relates well to how I feel about this trip so far.
I haven’t written any books, but I do feel as though I’ve left small parts of myself scattered across North America. I’ve left pieces with people who have been generous and gracious beyond belief and I’m richer for it. This generosity and kindness has come in many forms. People have fed me, housed me and gone very far out of their way to provide help or assistance when I’ve needed it (and even when I haven’t). For this I am indebted to them.
Most importantly, the people I’ve met on this trip have allowed me a window into their diverse lives. They have trusted me enough to allow me into their world. They have provided me with a wealth of insight, wisdom and knowledge of the kind you won’t find in any book or other medium. At times they’ve confided in me, and me in them. Some have allowed themselves to feel vulnerable in front of some strange guy they met only a few days earlier. I only hope that at these times, I was able to be someone they could depend on.
I realise in writing this that there’s a common theme to all these acts of kindness. And the common theme is love. All the people I’ve met have showered me with love and have not asked for anything in return. I’ve done my best to try and repay this love with love of my own, and maybe that’s why I feel like there’s pieces of me across the continent. Little pieces of love that I’ve tried my very best to provide. And hopefully I’ve contributed some insight and knowledge that has been of some use to them. I’d like to think so, at least.
The love I've received is an unconditional love. It’s a unique kind of love that is hard to define, which makes sense because I find that the things that are hardest to define are usually the most important facets of what it is to be human. To give and receive love is to partake in one of the most basic human interactions. It renders you truly humble and always richer for having had that experience. It reminds us that we're not that different after all, and that love — when given unconditionally and sincerely — has the power to transcend all of our politics, gender, race or any other characteristics by which we choose to define ourselves. It gives us hope that things can be better, and sometimes it bestows upon us an ability to trust in the fact that the world really isn't all bad. So I guess what I'm saying is that it's pretty bloody important, ya know?
To anyone who happens to read this, for there are many of you and you all know who you are, I would like to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart. I hope, some day in the future, to repay all this love to all of you. That might be setting somewhat of a challenge, but I’ll give it a red-hot go.