Have you ever heard of someone and you're shocked the whole world doesn't know this person? A few years ago while randomly listening to Ted Talk, I stumbled upon John Francis. I was shocked at his journey, but also astounded that I hadn't heard about it. This man walked for 22 years and was silent for 17 - all in the spirit of environmentalism. Since hearing him on Ted Talk and National Geographic, he's become a personal hero.
From his videos, he is an environmentalist, thoughtful, healthy, well-cultured, incredibly intelligent, and humble. Whenever I need inspiration, I think about his journey of self-discovery. In a National Geographic special, he says that silence helped him rediscover himself. His silence forced him to become creative - there is a lot that we can do when we don't talk or use transportation. He used art, nature, and writing as a form of release during his pilgrimage. Before going silent he was so lost, pretending to be someone else. In his book, Planetwalker, he discussed arguing with folks because he wanted them to understand his passion for the environment. A part of him was profoundly seeking affirmation and so he stopped speaking for a day, which led to 17 years.
In this lecture, he tells us about the beginning of his walking journey and also how he got a Bachelors, a Masters, and even a Ph.D. in oil spills all while being silent and walking.
Although his environmental stance and actions are astonishing, his viewpoint and his position on social justice and advocacy are what draws me to him. He is a firm believer and orator in the integration of human rights and environmentalism. He rarely leaves a podium without saying that how we treat one another manifests in the environment around us.
"Sustainability is in our relationships with ourselves and one another." We are the environment, and the environment is us - the people, the animals, the landscapes, etc.
NPR has an excerpt of his book, here.
His book is Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
His website: http://planetwalk.org
Whenever I feel insecure about my contribution to the world, I often think about this quote:
"As my father stretches to understand my journey, I realize that maybe you can't change the world by your actions alone, but you can change yourself. And when you do, the world around you may change by attempting to understand you, as we all try to understand each other."
― John Francis, Planetwalker: A Memoir of 22 years of walking and 17 years of silence.
Many blessings on your journey.
Polepole, my friends.
Edited by Ashley Yancey