There’s bad break-ups. There’s really bad break-ups. And then there are the break-ups that make you want to walk from Canada to Mexico.
Which is exactly what I did. In September of 2010, after finding a note on my kitchen table from my girlfriend, telling me she’d left me for another man, I set off to do something insane: to walk 3,000 kilometres from Vancouver to Mexico, through Washington, Oregon and California.
In retrospect, it was more than a small overreaction. But I was hurt, heartbroken and humiliated, and searching for a new direction in my life. I didn’t have a career. It felt like my future had disappeared. I was desperate All I could think to do was start walking.
First, I walked into an outdoors store and walked out with a new backpack, new tent, new sleeping bag, new cookstove, new potset, new frisbee, new harmonica and new shoes. I called it the Hobo Starter Package. Then, on September 1, 2010, I started walking. I took a ferry to Port Angeles, Washington and hiked over the Olympic Mountains. A few weeks later I made it to the Columbia River. By winter, I was in the redwoods of California.
It was a strange existence. Most mornings, I woke up having no idea where I’d sleep that evening. Most days, I spent walking on beaches and trails, or on the shoulder of the highway. Along the way, I met strangers and shared my story.
It was around this time that I started thinking about Storytelling.
The first few weeks, whenever anyone asked me why — which was often — I replied with my heartbroken story. My girlfriend left me, I’d say, before laying out all the gory details. But telling my story so often, I started getting sick of hearing the same story over and over again. So I started telling a different story, a story that reflected not who I was, but who I was becoming. Sure, it might sound like positive psychology. But it worked. My new story changed my world: it attracted different people, it led me down different roads, it opened up a future I could never have dreamed of.
I learned how to help other people transform by practicing on myself.