Select quotes from "Yak Butter Blues":
"Suddenly, a soothing magic surrounded and bathed us. It made us ignore the pain, forget our bodies and ourselves. We shuffled in silent meditation, lost in deep circumspection. Trekking turned transcendental. Strangely enough, the wind, the cold, the height didn’t matter any more. For once, I stopped thinking of my needs, my life. They were as transient as the dust. Feet melded into earth. Breath combined with wind. Pace became a mantra. Heartbeat was one with the earth. My spirit soared free… free as the prayer flags that waved ahead."
"Like Henry David Thoreau’s noble quest to “live life deliberately,” deliberate travel forced us to confront each day head-on. By traveling one step at a time, we were exposed and vulnerable. We reveled in the life surrounding us, the gritty beauty others missed by barreling through. And that dogged deliberation made our odyssey across Tibet more special than any we’d ever taken before."
Select quotes from "Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa":
"Travel is like a mirror held up against the world. It gives us a different perspective on life. And if we hold it just right, we might catch a glimmer of our own soul."
"…So much of the joy of travel is due to the sense of discovery, the adventure, the sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. It isn’t where you’re going. It’s the process of getting there, the journey. It’s knowing that by your own skill, luck or cunning you successfully travelled from point A to B, ate local food without getting poisoned, found a clean room with running water. More importantly, you learned a little more about life. You chatted with locals, shared drinks, swapped stories and lies. And because of all that, in some miniscule way, the size of our planet shrank a little bit more. You learned that our similarities outweigh our differences."
was always our best defense in Africa. If we made people see the
absurdity of a situation, or if we poked fun at ourselves, they’d
lower their guard. Comedy made us more than just "mzungus". Like
Africans, we were all in this drama of life together, living,
struggling and laughing against all odds."
Select quotes from "Along the Templar Trail":
“This pathway was once followed by Templars and soldiers on their way to Jerusalem. Now, I would like to see it developed as an international trail of peace for people of all nationalities and religions. I believe once you walk, eat, drink and share dreams with each other, you realize how much we have in common — how much we are truly “brothers.” And once you realize that, it becomes so much harder to pick up arms and kill each other.”
“Oddly enough, the simple act of slowing down forced me to quiet my mind and body, as each step had to be carefully placed, so as not to bruise a blister or cause another one. The Zen-like method of ‘deliberate walking’ also unveiled a beautifully complex and tranquil world with every step."
"Maybe we’re all Forest Gumps in life, running away from demons in our past that are chasing us until we rid ourselves of our braces or chains that bind us. Only then can we sail on down the road."
"All afternoon, I passed hushed fields and harvested trees twisted by the wind. I was alone, except for one moment when a gaunt, wild dog crossed the road. Pausing mid-stride, we examined one another. He was so close I could see the outline of his ribs beneath his short, gray-wheat colored coat. For an instant, he appeared torn between a domestic urge to join me and the more primitive instinct to avoid human contact. In a primal sense, I felt connected to him; a Steppenwolf torn the same way in my own life — between buying into society’s domestication — or trusting in the freedom of the road."
"Alone on a trail, you have time to deal with your thoughts, to listen to them, and then to accept, validate, reject, or re-think your reasoning objectively from a distance. So walking becomes “a trampoline for the mind,” allowing it to bounce unfettered from thought to feeling. It also enables a psychological cleansing and healing — and promotes an inner peace."
"I felt especially pleased when I could influence the young, brash and still optimistic to never settle for “impossible,” never listen to naysayers, or hesitate to try and create a better, more peaceful world. What better legacy could I leave?"
“To eliminate wars, we need to eliminate their root cause. When people become so desperate, living in poverty with no jobs, no healthcare, no security, no house, no chance for a better life or even a homeland, with their backs up against a wall, they take desperate measures. After all, at that point, what do they have to lose?”
"Our ways of life might be different, but underneath the surface, we are not so dissimilar after all — more alike than politicians dare to admit. To a person, we all desire (and deserve) peace in our lives."
“First, we’re taking this journey as a personal pilgrimage. But more than that, it is a journey of peace. Countries and especially the common people have suffered too much. There have been too many tears shed by mothers for their sons, wives for their husbands and children for their fathers. Yes, it takes courage to face an enemy—but it requires just as much bravery to say ‘No’ and refuse to capitulate to war. The time has come. This is now a global imperative.”
“It was still the journey that mattered and not the destination. I was an anonymous pilgrim finally stepping foot in the city of Jesus, the prophets, the Templars and pious to come before me—one simple peregrino realizing his dream….”
"Envisioning peace is half the battle. As the world’s consciousness changes, the rest is sure to follow.”
"Our greatest obstacles are created in our own minds."
"After seven million small steps, in my heart I know we can each make a difference. What progressive world movement has not begun small, even if by just one person with truth and determination; pilgrims committed to walking “roads less traveled.”"
Select quotes from "Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps":
"It’s not so much the places you see; it’s the folks you meet along the path. Traveling simply, you throw yourself out into the universe with abandon, depending far on fate and the kindness of strangers. Simply put, it means trusting, letting go, and letting life unfold in a natural and beautiful way. It’s a remarkable exercise."
"Even though we have different nationalities, languages, culture, politics, and sometimes-odd cuisine, the simple act of sharing food at the end of a tiring day creates bridges and allows us to see each other simply as fellow travelers walking this path called life."
"After it’s all said and done, travel’s a chance to touch lives and hearts. Perhaps that’s the secret handshake, after all."
"Once again, we’d seen how the Via Alpina’s so much more than hiking mountains, although it has double its fair share. It’s the people, sharing traditions and cultures, touching lives. Twice that same day, when our morale was at its lowest, we found extraordinary kindness."
"More than anything, long thru-treks are much more than climbing another mountain. They’re an exercise in concentration, focus, and a chance to re-affirm your own worth and sense of self. They’re empowering. Each day is a challenge. Some days, every step is one. As in life, it’s important to celebrate the triumphs of the little steps – and not to hold ourselves back waiting for the big victories."
"The deafening silence at that altitude always surprises me, yet it’s comforting in its own way. As you trek in solitude, your ears are serenaded by the most wonderful symphony. It starts with blood rhythmically coursing through your body, joined by exaggerated breaths, which keep the human machine humming. That’s punctuated by irrepressible chirping barks from chubby marmots who inundate meadows with their condo burrows. Then there’s the heady serenade of grasshoppers, more closely resembling the raucous rattling of snakes than any insect. But the most unusual sound and vision was one that Cheryl and I would mention to each other several days afterward. As we trekked, a huge raven flew past in exaggerated cinematic slow motion. The sound of its swooshing wings long reverberated in our ears. To me, its odd appearance was almost symbolic, and I only wished I could read the hidden message in its wake."
Alps are like love. You can have sun, rain and snow all in the same
"..the pure joy reflected in his [Bud's] eyes reminded me why I take to the trail. It’s the fresh air, the heart pounding, air-gasping pace; it’s the lure of something new around each bend and the freedom to explore. It’s the sweat and strain to accomplish something measurable each day. It’s the memorable views from a mountaintop. It’s reducing life to its primal essentials and finding satisfaction in the smallest things: a hot shower, a warm meal, a soft pillow, or word of encouragement. It’s the new people you meet every day and experiences shared. It’s the personal peace you find when you reconnect with nature and the Universe."
"Mountains know no nationality. They’re simply mountains; they salute no flag, march to no anthem, answer to no president or potentate. And they’ll remain long after all of us and our so-called “countries” disappear."
"We’d discovered the Alps, one-step-at-a-time. It’s a land of much more than mountains, cheese and gnomes. It’s a revival of the senses. It’s the crisp freshness of the air, the scent of pine, the riotous splash of wildflowers, and the taste of sweet milk straight from the cow. It’s history ever-changing, culture ever-evolving. It’s the chance to free yourself and seize the most from life, day after challenging day. It’s the humbling realization that we can never tame nature—only cooperate and hope to mutually survive. It’s more than bagging peaks; it’s the folks and experiences along the way. It’s a land of legends, towering giants, well-hidden gnomes, and an independent frame of mind. It’s the ultimate in tranquility. It’s the closest you can come to touching the stars."
These quotes from books by Brandon Wilson may be re-quoted with attribution; photos by Brandon or Cheryl Wilson; illustrations by Ken Plumb © 2012