February 27, 2008 Terkel

As I waded through hours of PTP video archives yesterday I came across a video Brett shot after our first month on tour. The clip consists of Brett interviewing me about my impression of the first month and what impressed me most. The primary issues I focused on were two I had since, nearly forgotten…

First I expressed a genuine sense of surprise and encouragement at people’s candor and need to talk. I had very few expectations going into the trip. A primary reason; I couldn’t envision the interview process. My preconceptions were that many people would not want to speak with us and that those who did were unlikely to volunteer anything truly personal and therefore valuable. This skepticism was put to bed on the first day and the month that followed was characterized by adventurous activity and conversation unlike any I had previously experienced.

The second idea I expressed was my surprise at how little I had previously asked questions. I felt that every person, at some point, should travel for an extended period with a question they hope to answer. The nature of the question is not important. It could be trivial or profound. The important part is that it gives you an excuse to speak with strangers’ every day. Once I became aware of peoples willingness to talk I began to feel irresponsible in my neglect to ask questions. The knowledge and experience that a simple conversation can yield are incredible and yet we allow countless conversations to slip by un-had or executed insincerely.

As we tramped across the country we kept attempting to explain the conflicting feeling that the world was much bigger than we envisioned, but smaller than we imagined. What we were beginning to understand was that the size of our world and its potential for opportunity far exceeded our prior expectations. But, our proximity to opportunity and the obstacles that stood in our way were much smaller than we imagined. The best way to understand our world was to experience it with those we shared it with.