Earth Walk

Reagh Greenleaf Jr. - Exploring the relationship between humanity and nature.

Earth Walk, 24 June, 2011

 Hello everybody!  Many of you are wondering where I am and what the heck I’m doing.  Well, here’s the story:  It’s been 55 days since my departure celebration at Odiorne Point in Rye, NH.  One week ago, after many twists and turns, wonders and mishaps I found myself at America’s Stonehenge in Salem, NH.  I had traversed about 150 miles throughout southeastern, NH, including actual distance-walking (100 miles) and local exploring (50 miles).  My backpack ranged in weight from 90 lbs., down to 65 lbs. after much gear alteration and trips to the post office.  I had two major rest periods, and one complete re-start of the trip at Odiorne Point on June 5th.  I had many wonderful experiences and visited several old and new friends along the way.  I also spent many difficult days alone in fair and foul weather and uncertain camping spots.

            By day 48, Thursday, June 16th, I’d fallen quite ill with flu symptoms and a hefty dose of despair about continuing my project.  By the morning on Friday, I was incapacitated, and called my parents, who luckily were only 20 miles away in Merrimack, to come pick me up.  Tom Lanigan had called me earlier that week, inviting me to play with the band on the main stage at the Boston Irish Festival.  It was a gig we’d all dreamed about for years, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  So, I went home to my folks to rest and recuperate for a couple days before the big show on the 19th. 

            The Boston Irish Festival, at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, MA, proved to be a day I’ll never forget.  Many fans came out to support us, and according to Mr. Seamus Mulligan, festival coordinator and host of the “Feast of Irish Music” radio show on WROL, the response we got for a noon-time show was unprecedented.  It was also incredible to see my bandmates, friends and fans again after being out on the road.  We got to spend time with the other bands and enjoyed the company and encouragement of the legendary Derek Warfield and members of the Young Wolfetones.  I was happier than I’d been since I left on May 1st.  (I also had my first Guinness in weeks). 

            Following the show, I was still wiped out from being sick and traveling, and I had about a .0000001% desire to put that backpack on and go back out from where I’d left off.  Yet, I struggled internally with the knowledge that I wanted to do this walk for years, and gave up everything else to make it happen.  Additionally, I’d received support from my family and community, who all gave selflessly of their time, talent, love and money.  Not knowing what else to do, I packed up and went camping for a couple days to sort things out. 

            I realized that I was simply unhappy; not temporarily because of being wet and dirty, but because I was living in a way that did not allow me to have the friends and connections I need, and the logistics of traveling on foot were actually preventing me from having the creative experiences and freedom I sought – which was the whole point of Earth Walk.  Tom put it best, when he said to me “Maybe, by seeking and trying so hard to find ultimate freedom outwardly, you ended up limiting yourself internally.  Perhaps true freedom starts within, and isn’t dependent on outward circumstances or details.”  This is something I knew philosophically or intellectually, but hadn’t pushed myself to the extreme of discovery until attempting Earth Walk as I’d envisioned it.   I knew in my heart that I was physically capable of walking 4000 thousand miles, but what was the point if I was miserable the whole way?  How could I be an effective steward and celebrant of nature if my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health were compromised by pushing myself too far beyond my present abilities and resources?  I believe in testing one’s self, and expanding one’s comfort zones, but I came to accept I had reached my limits.  I risked everything and tried to the utmost to accomplish my goals, and were simply unable to do so in the narrow way I’d devised.

            So, after careful consideration, soul searching and prayer, I’ve decided to let go of Earth Walk for now.  I have resumed membership with the Tom Lanigan Band, and I will return to the Seacoast area where I belong, with my family, friends and community.  I will continue to pursue my passion of Earth Stewardship and the Arts, and feel I will be more effective doing this with a home base, and growing things from the ground up.  I’m in great shape, and still love to walk and backpack, so I’ve considering setting up programs where I continue Earth Walk on a local level, traveling to schools on foot a day or two at a time, where I can actually network and schedule things ahead of time.  Perhaps this idea will grow along with the Band, and will expand to cover a larger area.  In years to come, I may be able to develop a network that allows me to take the ideas and goals of Earth Walk across the whole country, but I will allow it to grow naturally without an artificial deadline.  I have learned that one cannot push a river faster than it wants to flow.

I do not feel I wasted my time or efforts, because, in this whole process I learned more about myself than I could’ve possibly imagined in such a short time.  Cheers to any of you who made friendly bets that I wouldn’t make it out of New Hampshire, let alone New England!  I have covered other kinds of distance, and I guess I just missed you all too much.  I am eternally grateful to all of you who gave so much of yourselves because you believed in me and what I hoped to do.  Your efforts are not wasted, because you have helped me to learn, grow, transform, and showed me the power of love and friendship.  To those of you who supported me financially I will repay your donations as soon as I am able, and I deeply value your belief in me and my goals.  In the meantime I’m seeking practical work and a living space while working toward the success of the Tom Lanigan Band.  The band, and our community of fans and supporters are truly wonderful people, and I know that’s where I belong right now.  I  want to especially thank my parents for helping me and loving me no matter what craziness I brew up, and the Folk and Irish music communities of eastern New England.  I’ll see you at a session soon!

With Love and Thanks,

Reagh