On May 9 2016, I was supposed to bicycle, hug and high5 my way across the country.
The short answer: I GOT SICK.
The longer explanation; a severe sinus/ear infection threw off my equilibrium and reduced me to a feverish mess unable to bicycle.
That said, because I was by myself- I was forced to cancel the trip.
SO....WHAT HAPPENED AFTER YOU CANCELLED THE TOUR??
Well, I reevaluated everything and figured that my embracing people was a lot more important than my bicycling to embrace people...so, I reconfigured things by renting a car and then drove to the designated locations and still made myself available to Hug/High5 people!
WHY ARE YOU HUGGING PEOPLE?
Because I think that we could all use a dose of that unique warmth within a nice embrace.
I can't tell you why exactly...maybe it's because I am old and have heard of too many killings in the world.
Maybe it's because of the embarrassment I felt when my Australian friend, who was visiting the US and driving through San Bernardino at the time of the shooting, casually asked: Well, aren't there shootings here every day?? - and all I could say was: Yes.
Understandable, SO WHAT HAPPENED ON THE TOUR?
In planning things, I plotted a route through the nation where mayhem and gun violence struck- San Bernardino, OKC and Chicago - and began things from The San Bernardino Sun newspaper.
With this being my 7th cross continental tour since my friend was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11 but the first one where I didn't bicycle, I didn't know what to expect but can tell you that, sadly, I encountered individuals whose lives were touched by gun violence from Day 1.
And, no matter who I met- they all really appreciated my actions and offer to hug.
SO FOLKS SHOWED UP AND GOT A HUG AND THEN WHAT??
Most people said that they felt better....I know that I did.
Then, most people wanted to talk.
People wanted to talk about my friend that I lost, my past travels and what keeps me going all these years later.
Some folks opened up general societal issues like politics, gun violence, politics and so on.
And others still opened up about their struggles, their addictions, their beliefs, their fears and so on.
Some people cried - some talked about their travels- some laughed - others came back with their friends back for another hug.
But for the most part - they just got a hug and took pictures with me.
There was one guy who used me to start a conversation to get some woman's phone number.
DID EVERYONE HUG YOU?
No, some just high5'd me and kept it movin'
DID ANYONE LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOUR WERE WEIRD?
Well...yeah....THAT happens all the time:)
But if that's the worst thing I have to deal with then I am living the dream;)
WHERE DID YOU HUG AND HIGH5 PEOPLE?
I hugged people at San Bernardino newspaper, a Flagstaff middle school, cafes everywhere, a Seligman store, an Albuquerque bike shop, a Stillwater bar, a minor league baseball game, the Oklahoma City Memorial and a whole bunch of other places.
IN AN EARLIER INTERVIEW, YOU SAID THAT YOU'D GO TO A STRIP CLUB TO HUG PEOPLE; DID YOU??
Like I said, strippers need hugs too:)
YOU DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY, DO YOU?
Not really, I am just a regular guy that is out there doing his absolute best to make the world a better place.
When you break it down, all I do is:
SO ARE YOU EVER GOING TO DO THE TOUR?
I don't know really. I say this because I don't know if my bicycling around is very important...but I do know that I have a LOT more Huggin and High5’n to do!