June 3, 2023
June 8, 2023
That is how many communities I have visited since May 1, 2022 (my birthday) and Des Moines, IA has the distinction of being 53rd. I gave two speeches here. One was at the Johnston Rotary Club and the other at the Ankeny Rotary Club. Both groups were tremendously engaged and I even got to have dinner on my last night with two members of the Johnston Club. They would be Eddie Andrews, a Republican member of The Iowa Legislature and Bruce Young, a former tech engineer who was one of Nvidia’s first clients in the 1990s. It was great to celebrate my last night by having people listen to me talk about this incredible journey.
But, as I told the two clubs, I am tired. Physically, it has taken a toll as I have gotten away from my home exercise routine. The mental fatigue was even greater. Whenever I was engaged in conversation, I was energized. But during the downtimes on this journey, I found it easier to just take in the scenery and enjoy the ride like a tourist. And, so, I gradually became less assertive in trying to find interviewees. In retrospect, I suppose that was to be expected.
During the four journeys I got to deliver speeches to about 500 attendees, most Rotarians. I consider this one of my greatest accomplishments. It was always an honor to know that people valued my message. I had an untold number of random conversations. I had conversations for which I planned. I saw both the United States and Canada (39 states, eight provinces). I saw the changing landscapes. I learned about local history. People bought me lunch and gave me gifts. Rotary Clubs made donations to charities in my name. I made friends with whom I will stay in touch. And notably, I got to tell my story to my “twin,” a black gentleman born in the South and two-time Harvard graduate who was a guest at the same Airbnb, and someone for whom I had been seeking. He, too, is working on a book.
And that barely scratches the surface.
My very last random conversation from this whole adventure was with a gentleman in Pappajohn Sculpture Park. During the conversation, it came out that we were both born on the exact same day. Some things you just can't make up. I'm still trying to grasp the metaphysics of that.
So, what’s next? First, I need to complete a few interviews and finish some work-in-progress stories. After I do that, I will reach out to the media producer who introduced himself to me after giving a speech in Los Angeles, to discuss the book. A former professor of literature and Yale PhD, Ken has mentored/produced multiple New York Times best-selling authors and has authored about 20 books including a recent one entitled, “Sell Your Story to Hollywood: Writers Guide to the Business of Show Business.” Finally, after having given 19 speeches over the past 13 months, I will probably look into ways to continue doing that. Only time will tell where it all leads.
Rumi (1207-1273): Begin a huge, foolish project, like Noah… It makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.
GREAT PLAINS: 6,430 miles
GRAND TOTAL: 26,303 miles