A Healthy Walk

Tobiah Steinmetz decided to walk across America. OK, that’s not news, lots of people have done this, even though when they do, some local news organization picks up on it to fill the human interest slot. Enquiring minds need to know, and all that.

But Tobiah is a little different though, I contend, not much. Tobiah did it rolling a 40 pound crucifix behind him. He walked all the way from California to South Carolina. He claims he was told by god to do so, though I suspect there are no witnesses to this conversation, as there never are. We have to take his word on that.

He seems, in the video interview, to be an amiable fellow, one who believes what he says, so I’ll leave his beliefs at that. He most likely sincerely believes that god spoke to him and told him to do this, though I’d be more willing to accept that he’s the outdoorsy type, enjoys physical exercise, is fervent in his religion and decided, perhaps subconsciously, to combine his two passions, and maybe get a little publicity in the process. Everybody seems to crave their 15 minutes of fame, and I don’t say that’s a bad thing. (I enjoyed my 15 minutes once, on TV, though it was actually only about a minute, so I have 14 more coming to me.)

What I found interesting was the fact that he was taken care of by strangers as he walked across the country, often taken in, or given motel money, or food.  He would attribute that to the hand of god. I would attribute that to the innate goodness in his fellow man. Frankly, regardless of my personal antipathy toward religion in general, if I was confronted with a sweaty, tired man pulling a cross on wheels from California, I would be curious, and if the guy was as pleasant as he appeared in the interview, I’d probably try to help him out myself.  If he wanted to talk god, I’d enjoy the conversation.

Oddly, I almost envy the guy. He was able to experience something I would have loved to experience – a wonderful cross-slice of America, and not from a tour bus or an airplane, but on the ground, eyeball to eyeball with other Americans, meeting people who are not like me, but very much like me at the same time. I don’t see this as a religious story, despite Tobiah’s motivations for his walk. I see it as a humanistic story, where people dig down and interact with fellow humans, because they are human, not because of some divine intervention, despite belief in the latter.

There seems to be an implicit need to think that the only reason he would make this walk is because of god, and perhaps he wouldn’t have otherwise, but thousands of people hike across country every year. If you’ve ever hiked the Appalachian Trail, and met people on the way, camped out with them at night, you’d understand what I mean. Human interaction is a refreshing experience, especially when you meet nice people who affirm your good feelings about humanity. I’ve often walked away from interactions with strangers feeling good about myself.

I’ll bet he was in good shape by the end of the trip, something else for me to envy.

———–

And in The-World’s-Gonna-Be-Alright department, news from China indicates that hymenoplasties are becoming very popular. What’s a hymenoplasty, you ask? That’s where women about to be married have their hymens surgically restored, in cultures where virginity is highly valued by their soon-to-be husbands. In effect, they trick them into believing they were their first. Very popular among Muslims too, it turns out, where previous sexual experience is a stoning offense.  Ah, young love! Ain’t it grand?

I learned something new too, though in hindsight, I’m not sure I needed to know this:

For women who do not want to have surgery, a cheaper, faster path to “revirgination” is available in most sex novelty shops: a Chinese-made artificial hymen that purports to create a physical sensation for the man and emit fake blood when ruptured.

I’m also not sure why I tacked this story onto the end of the previous one. It struck me as a very human thing for humans to want to do, but its relevance to a guy dragging a cross?

There is none.

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22 thoughts on “A Healthy Walk

  1. “I don’t see this as a religious story, despite Tobiah’s motivations for his walk. I see it as a humanistic story, where people dig down and interact with fellow humans”

    Christ… give me a jet, window seat, no one else on my row.

    OK… so I’m NOT the guy who makes you feel better about yourself and humanity!

  2. I’m rather envious of Tobiah. I dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail when I was a teen and young adult. I suppose I still could do it, if I could afford not to work for six months. So, it’s not likely to happen. By the way, I love A Walk in the Woods – it’s a great read.

  3. The walking I don’t mind. Hell, I’m leaving soon to go hike in NH, but it’s the people I don’t want to see (ie – walk in woods and on mountain, see few people). I was just thinking of what roads would one take? We always think of highways like 95, but I guess this guy is going down that street (you all have that street) that is fairly big with at least two lanes on each side and where all the strip malls, Wallmarts, and other chains are. That street looks the same virtually everywhere in America, so what variety do you really get?

    As for the love of hymens, I never understood that. First, gross. Second, am I crazy for wanting my partner to have a good time, too? Third, on top of the pain and the mess, she’s probably not going to be that knowledgable so I just don’t get it, especially blowing yourself up in hopes of getting a bunch of virgins. What’s the appeal?

  4. Oddly, I almost envy the guy. He was able to experience something I would have loved to experience – a wonderful cross-slice of America, and not from a tour bus or an airplane, but on the ground, eyeball to eyeball with other Americans, meeting people who are not like me, but very much like me at the same time.

    That would be a great experience. Of course, any sort of undisclosed physical impediments notwithstanding, couldn’t you still do this, or at least something similar on a smaller scale? Some of y’all are quick to poke fun at the whole skateboard thing, but let me tell you: it’s a lot like doing what this guy did. You get to meet all sorts of flavorful characters from street people to cops to cholos to hookers to crazy thugs and beyond. You stay in shape. You improve coordination and muscle memory. You get to practice discipline. Etc. We can get a little slice of the good life every day.

  5. Wow, that’s a pretty little blue ribbon!

    Would like to hike the Appalachian Trail (and damn you Mark Sanford for turning it into a euphemism for adultery!) or kayak down the Missouri River someday.

    My dream is to save up enough money so that I can take a year off from working and just do whatever the hell I want.

    • Wow, that’s a pretty little blue ribbon!

      It’s very symbolic, according to the article I cited two posts ago. Blue, not white, symbolizes virginity (Something borrowed, something blue…).

  6. Every few years someone seems to feel the need to drag a cross across the country. As you said, it makes the local news here and there, and no one seems to do ore than nod or shake their heads.
    The last guy who came through here, though (and I can’t remember when it was but it doesn’t seem to have been all that long ago. Guy didn’t have a wheel on his cross, though) had some interesting stories to tell about the experience. You could probably write a decent psychology paper on them.

    @ Chaplain: I used to hike some segments of the trail (and others) in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland in my younger days.
    If you’ve travelled I-70 you will notice that there is actually a trail bridge over the highway? Back when the route was two lane (actually three, if I remember it right, at the summit) you sort of had to time crossing the road between the cars or wait until two trucks were chugging up both sides and backing up traffic so you wouldn’t get hit.

    • On of the best hikes I ever walked was the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, near and around Mt. Washington. They have a hut system there that allows you to pack light (don’t have to carry food or bedding) and sleep at these large huts along the trail. They are basically just big bunkhouses with kitchen facilities. All food is packed in and garbage is packed out daily. And they are located in some really beautiful locations. I did a three day hike through three huts, walked along the trail above the tree line, and met a lot of nice people at night. Food tasted good too after all that exercise and mountain air.
      link

  7. Rolling a 40 pound cross? Probably while wearing comfortable shoes? This guy needs to check out the Philippines or Latin America. Those kooks know how to torture themselves with flair.

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