For years (while it was still there), this was my fave piece of art in the Folk Art section at the High Museum in Atlanta, which I visit often (via train and bike). It was large, enclosed in glass, and had moving parts. Next to it, there was an accompanying video interview with the self-taught artist. I would push the button and watch it over and over. He was an old guy from Appalachia who just whittled away — and little by little, voilá, there this was. It add up. HE added up.
I’ve been thinking about that man every day as I’ve been whittling away putting together the path and packing plan for Round America with a Duck. Little by little. Day by day. Writing to farmers. Researching cities. Road-testing products. Re-training myself on certain habits (for instance, I’ve been alcohol free since May 9, 2022 in preparation for this journey; I’ve fully replaced shampoo and conditioner with hair soap and dry shampoo; and I’m currently weaning myself off . . . coffee!!! It’s not allowed at the Hare Krishna temple, and frankly, it’s not in my very tight travel budget). It has truly been one destination, one decision at a time. And now as I look at my confirmed route and full backpack, I see how it has added up.
The bigger truth? WE add up. You. Me. All of us. Maybe it’s not a journey, a book, for you, but there’s something you’re whittling. There’s something at which you’re slowly chipping away. Hang in there. Keep whittling.
I wore a sweatshirt all last year that said, “Underestimate me. That’ll be fun.” It was a message more to myself than anyone else, to remind myself that anything is possible. That I have grit. Perseverance. Tenacity. Belief in myself when others don’t. This photo is from before I even had the idea for Round America with a Duck. And now, here we are. Here we are.