Day Seventy Six (11 March)

It was good that I had less distance to cover in most of these final days of the BIG WALK, because I hadn’t cared properly for my feet, and have physiological changes that affect me to this day.

I’m not a podiatrist, and I’m too old and stubborn to go see one, but if I had to guess, it’s collapsed arches – I was overburdened for pretty much all of the walk, and the majority of days I was walking dawn until dusk.

Anyway, in my measure well worth it.

Even just in the minor performance improvements I’ve seen as a husband and father, worth it. (Aside from my own mental and spiritual health benefits).

But I love that ripple effect. Of kindness, I mean.

I imagine someone I met on the walk, let’s say a kid like Archer, and decades from now they’re 27 years old, and somehow a better person, because I made an 8% contribution toward that day they made an ethical choice that led to more ethical choices, that cultivated an enduring sense of kindness.

That ripple effect.

Because his kindness then makes that world better, touches other peoples lives, and this cold impersonal stone we call Planet Earth keeps spinning around, but We, in our mundane day-to-day lives .. we shine a little brighter.

We choose that magic, that connection. Have a little love and faith in one another.

I know that probably sounds ‘airy fairy’ but I firmly believe it’s true – our words and actions have far-reaching and subtle consequences. So make the right choices.

Haha, our pong also can reach out to impact others – so look to your hygiene.

The benefit of all this hospitality wasn’t so much about the comfort, in many ways I sometimes craved the bush – but it was about getting gadgets charged and laundry to combat the aura of crippling pong that often traveled with me on those long country roads.

I had some errands to run in Traralgon, including a visit to the Post Office. Our family credit card was copping a flogging – I had about a thousand dollars in donations collected over past weeks – I’d process them into the charity portal daily using our credit card, and hang onto the cash, it was the only way to do it .. but it was starting to get a bit worrying carrying that money around.

Plus, I had a postcard from Rosedale to send to my mate Archer, and I wanted to buy a new selfie stick to improve the quality of my photos and video. (I’d broken three during the walk).

Business done and update delivered, my next goal was to get to the TRFM radio station, the team had invited me in (and they were so warm and wonderful!), it was great. I did interviews for the morning crew, little bits for the news, and had some lovely chats and g’days with the team generally.

Felt to me like there were more beeps happening as I walked down the freeway after that – blows my mind to imagine some trucker listening to me talk on the radio, thinking “what a strange story, he’s probably crazy, but somehow that makes me feel good about life”

I’d get these really full on BEEP-BEEP-A-BEEP-BEEPITY-BEEEEEEPs!!! sometimes, and I just like to imagine that person, having heard the radio just now, suddenly seeing the old boofhead with his big old flag (the dag with a bag and a flag) walking down the side of the road and having a bizarre rock star moment, “It’s HIM! It’s that walking bloke !!!” and laying it on the horn like a maniac.

Whatever happens in the rest of my life, it’s little things like that which will always mean a smile is within reach for me. Another thing I got from the walk, I suppose. (And thanks TRFM)

It wasn’t a long walk, that day – maybe 15km – a rest day, basically – but even so I made very slow progress and didn’t arrive in Morwell until late afternoon.

I was reminding myself to always make room for people I met, respect them, make sure I invited as much chat as they wanted. I’ve always been a bit shy, and I’d realised that my keep-it-moving-nothing-to-see-here shyness might be discouraging for some people .. and that might undermine any benefit we could both get from meeting and sharing.

As you can see, throughout the morning I was playing with my new selfie stick.

You’d think after weeks and months on the road, I’d have gotten good with the story-telling of it, the visual stuff, photos and video – but I never quite got there.

Better, maybe – but never quite there.

It’s a question of mindset – I was always thinking about the Quest, about people I might be able to help, or reflecting on ways in which the pilgrimage was helping and improving ME.

No thought to this journal, or how my sons, perhaps as adults, might one day be reading this after I’m gone.

(I love you so much, son, all my heart, every day that I had with you, I cherished. You a wonderful. Wonderful. Even when we were apart, you lit up my life, and are by far the best part of me).

Anyway, yeah – made it to Morwell and toddled my way to the Parkside Motel, where hospitality was on offer AGAIN!, I’d been lugging my hammock and tarp all this bloody way, but I don’t think I needed to use it again.

I met people who had faced up to great personal darkness, people who suffered, people who triumphed – one common thing I found as I walked .. for the most part there is light in all of us.

In some it’s hidden, tarnished, even buried deep and hard to find – but it’s there.

That’s my sense, anyway.

Unless you’ve done something irrevocable like hurt a child, I think we all get the chance to redeem ourselves, to take our own BIG WALK, to push forward.

To choose Hope.

Oh yeah, and I need to thank Bec and Lorraine from Sale (AGAIN), unbelievably, they drove out. They had been a bit upset that Telstra hadn’t followed through on their offer of a replacement phone (a kind offer, not sure why it fell apart probably I moved on too quickly).

But they drove out with a new device they’d purchased in the hopes of solving the video and sound problems. Wonderful. Amazing. Such kindness.

Sadly though, I couldn’t quite figure out how to migrate all the security, account, images and video stuff from my dodgy old waterlogged iPhone7 to the new phone they got, so I had to give it back to them when I saw them again at Federation Square (but thankfully Lorraine needed a new phone, so ‘alls well that ends well’. But today, months later, I’m still touched by the warmth and remarkable kindness of the act. Musing on that, the light and kindness in the world, I slept very well that night.