"What this world needs is a new kind of army. The army of the kind." -Cleveland Amory
The most remarkable aspect of my adventures as a traveler has been seeing how the human connections I've made along the way have shifted my perception of our world. I have been traveling for years, surviving largely on the kindness of strangers.
I honestly don't feel that I would be where I am today (as a travel author and TV host) if it had not been for the preachers, housewives, and drifters who helped me along. They lifted my spirits. They showed me that we are all linked by invisible and unbreakable bonds.
I have far too many stories of random acts of kindness to fill this blog post. So, I'll recount only three of the most inspiring acts of generosity I experienced during my years on the road.
I found myself in Indianapolis, Indiana and came across a young mother and her one year old son. What happened next baffled me and warmed my heart with equal measure. I was searching for a way out of town and she offered me her house in Chicago even though she was staying in Indianapolis for the night.
Here was a young lady offering to give a complete stranger the keys to her home. I was dumbstruck. Literally speechless. I found my way to Chicago and stayed in her house. Unbelievable.
Jack: The Scottish madman (in the nicest sense of the word)
I was visiting the small English seaside resort of Whitby and bumped into a larger than life fisherman who offered to drive me up to Scotland. As we drove in his lobster van he informed me that I was to be his guest for the night. I didn't seem to have a choice in the matter. He was an absolutely lovely chap who had an unexpected adventure planned for me the following morning.
We woke up at the crack of dawn and he gently suggested I join him on his 14 foot wooden boat and set out into the North Sea. I must say I felt exceedingly fortunate not to drown on that day. His boat was not so lucky. I received a text from him a few weeks later informing me that his pride and joy had sunk in the harbor.
The friendliest town in the world
While trekking across America I stumbled across the small leafy town of Galesburg, Illinois. Little did I know this picturesque hamlet was soon to be christened (by me) the friendliest town in the world. I met a chap named Bob who took a liking to me and I ended up staying the night with him and his lovely family.
The next morning the whole town raised $100 for a train ticket for me to get to Denver! I will never forget the kindness shown to me by the small town of Galesburg. See you guys on the book tour.
What did I learn from all this kindness?
I learned to pay it forward, to give it away. I learnt that we all have the seeds of compassion and joy in our lives.