I'll need months of contemplation and reflection before I can fully and coherently discuss everything I've learned on this walk, but I think the two most obvious lessons are these:
1) Have some faith in this world. Things aren't as bad as they tell us. We may all have different political opinions and different religious beliefs and different cultural norms (I'm a liberal atheist Jew. Did you know that? Does it matter?), and many of us probably couldn't stand to be around each other on a regular basis, but most of us would, it turns out, extend a helping hand (or sandwich, or beer, or couch, or shower) to a stranger in need. I walked 3100 miles across this country and didn't encounter a single person who tried to hurt me, or steal from me, or damage my possessions. This isn't a place that needs to be feared. It's a place that needs to be explored, and appreciated, and celebrated.
2) There's beauty everywhere. Keep your eyes open, and keep your mind open, and you'll be amazed what's out there, right under your nose, just waiting to be discovered. You don't need to go to the Best This or the Most Spectacular That; just take a stroll around the neighborhood. I blindly followed directions from Google on my walk, making no effort to see anything special, and look at everything I found that I thought needed to be shared with the world!
But enough with the blabbing. Let me just send out a sincere "Thank you!" to everyone who helped me on my trip. Your generosity astounded me, and I'm extremely grateful for every bit of kindness I received. And thanks to everyone who followed along online and offered words of encouragement. It's always heartening to know other people are interested in what you're doing. Thanks for making me feel special!
Okey dokey. Stay strong, people!