The Kindness of Strangers

Be Kind - We are all fighting

One of my goals for this year is to be more flexible, specifically to relearn how to do splits. While I am not exactly the creaky old crone I could be, I am definitely not as flexible as I used to be. Aging? Already? This one I can work on.

Got tested about a different style of flexibility this weekend. Hand plans to spend the weekend with the man & his family for Superbowl, a birthday & a few other things. Due to scheduling some work in another city in between Charlotte (where our families are) & Wilmington (home), we weren’t able to drive in together. Which meant I got to come into town early & spend some time with the little dude (& of course the rest of the family). What we didn’t plan was his car cracking up & leaving him stuck in Wilmington.

After a trying week for both of us & not getting to see each other much, it was not ok. I wanted to scream. Bummed to say the least.

After the initial anger, we both agreed it was better to just relax and enjoy our weekends even if not as planned or even together. ENJOY. There is my word of the year again. So I’m trying. There are worse things that easily could have happen. Still sometimes life is just frustrating. Today as I watched my nephew have a breakdown because he didn’t want to take his nap, I thought about how maybe we as adults should embrace the meltdown tantrums. Just release the feelings & express ourselves. Then again should I be taking life advice from a 20 month old? Probably not. Have to admit hearing him yell my name in his little munchkin voice to come save him from his daddy trying to get him to sleep kind of melted me.

Although it’s not quite the one I wanted to spend the weekend with, at least I get to watch the big game tomorrow with one of my favorite guys. Still making memories & suddenly I have more time to read now. Maybe I will even get to knock out another book on my way to 50!

Recently I did finish a book that I have to say surprised me.

I’m a big fan of catching Amazon freebies & when I saw that one about someone traveling across America by hitchhiking I thought why not? So I added The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America to my stash & didn’t think much about it. After finishing Wild, I really wanted something travel related & discovered this find again on my Kindle. Thanks to a blog I read regularly, Crazy Running Girl, I also discovered there is a bloggers’ book club that has started up by Sarah Ohm where we get a topic each month to read our interpretation of & then blog about the books read. Right up my alley! January’s theme is Motivational Book, which Kindness of Strangers ended up being for me.

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

No I’m not going hitchhiking anytime soon, but this memoir by Mike McIntyre did inspire me to think about how kind people really can be. I’ve started looking at people walking near roads a tad differently too.

Mike finds himself in a place where he isn’t sure of his life. Frustrations with a relationship and career lead him to decide to toss aside his job, responsibilities and fears and walk from his home in California to a place on the east coast called Cape Fear. Which strangely enough is where I live! Truth be told the Cape Fear is a river and the Cape Fear he is heading towards is just the area considered as the river basin for that river. He doesn’t realize this but the whole time reading I was confused by his talking about going to Cape Fear, North Carolina. “No such place” I would mental argue each time I read it.

His rule is simple. He is going to get from California to North Carolina, coast to coast, without a single penny. No cash. No credit or debit cards. No checks. Nothing. Not carried on him & not accepted from anyone along the way. In this era (he did this trek in the mid-90s), this concept seems absolutely crazy. Completely letting go of control and trusting that he will find people to provide a place to stay, rides, food and the occasional necessities like a bathroom or shower once in a while.

Equipped with a sign and a backpack he starts off simply thumbing from town to town. Along the way he meets some very unique characters as you might imagine. Knowing this is a true story both gives me faith in people and scares me slightly. You really just don’t know who to trust and who not to sometimes.

“Sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers

I won’t give away much more, but I did find his travels very entertaining. His leap of faith is one I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to attempt, but my wanderlust is rev’d up. I’m more likely to trust the wilderness of nature like Cheryl Strayed in Wild than the people along the highways across the US!

“There was a time in this country when you were a jerk if you passed somebody in need. Now you’re a fool for helping. Gangs, drugs, murderers, rapists, thieves, carjackers. Why risk it? I Don’t Want to Get Involved has become a national motto.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Something to think about. Are you the kind stranger or the one who drives past?



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