Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Walkabout Problem and Joe's Story

It is part of my traditional community educational culture to foster a Walkabout of sorts for the very young adult. My Walkabout ended at 3:45 AM this morning, about 25 years later, because it was time to come home. I discovered that I did not need to travel the wilderness anymore in my narcissistic preoccupation with my own suffering. I donated all of my retreat money for the year to an unknown person in Chicago.

Joe's mother asked me to watch this video with her. It was inspiring but excruciating. His father waited outside on the front porch because he was working through his remembrances with my housemate.

All of our intellectual knowledge is gained from boiling down information. That information can then be consumed by other instruments, namely our sense organs and our cognitive processes. These are just instruments and they eventually die and it can hurt like hell to have all this stuff. That is why we do the Walkabout.

The Royal We tend to encounter people who travel great distances, read a lot of books and do some nice things for other people in the midst of an unfruitful preoccupation with ordinary life predicaments.

So I traveled great distances, read a lot of books and did some nice things for other people, but it wasn't really productive from a practice standpoint. In many ways my journey was drawn on a map by a 16 year old boy named Sean who couldn't get into the best prep school in the Southeast. That journey is winding down in the best interest of a 41 year old man with the same name who does a little blogging here and there because it is therapy.

Thursday night I got a call from a priest that I knew in high school because he was a fellow student in our chess club nerd factory and we were relying on each other for something. I told him I feed the homeless and then I go home. He told me he welcomes people into his life that have done some terrible things and that he has learned a lot from them, even though his parishioners sometimes object to the background of the people he welcomes . We are meeting in Knoxville in a few months. The home town feelings from Chattanooga were stirring in me by Friday morning and shortcomings of my Walkabout were surfacing and boiling over.

Friday night, last night, I met a couple here in Charlotte that had a son that I never knew growing up, but he was part of our community educational culture in my hometown. He had his Walkabout while he was dying of cancer before he got out of college. They describe his journal entries as bizarre but his final thoughts are remarkably gifted articulations. He had to make a pit stop while in Ireland where he was cared for because he was too sick to return home in good order.

It was humbling because I attended what constitutes a "backup plan" for prospective McCallie high school students who do not gain admission, or for current students who are expelled or drop out. My brother went to their rival school for a while and I really wasn't made of the stuff that these schools want.

Joe traveled to his high school campus and gave his last speech as an alumni of his school with six oxygen tanks in the back seat of his parent's car. In addition, he had to have his lungs aspirated by a doctor before his final speech so he could talk.

The slots to give these student speeches, for students by students, are highly coveted. This broke a sacred protocol because by that time Joe was an alumni and a student gave Joe his spot to make this final speech to his friends after his Walkabout.

The things he talks about here will resonate with you on a deep level. I sense that you may have traveled great distances, read a lot of books, and have done some nice things for people.

The video preview does not render well but please watch it. I can see the traffic on this blog and I know who are. Don't be a casual tourist today.

If you want to help Joe's friends help others:

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