Thursday, October 30, 2008

Couch Surfing USA - The One I Said Yes To

Recently I did a post about Couch Surfing and I fear I've given the wrong impression. They're not all crazies.

In spite of my own surfing experience with the Jesus People Commune in Chicago (which was great, btw), and the requests I've gotten from the Amish farm boy and the Iranian pen pal, Couch Surfing has thousands of intelligent, compassionate, regular corn flake-eating folks.

The organization is made up of people who love to travel and connect with other people and cultures.

And those, like me, too cheap in stay in a hotel.

Because of scheduling, I've had to turn down requests from artists doing the festival circuit, from musicians on tour, from Dads doing cross country trips with sons, from Moms taking their daughters on college visits.

And what could be more normal and idyllic than Moms and daughters traveling together, sleeping on stranger's couches and fighting over the hair dryer?

Now, having made that disclaimer, this is the dude I said yes to.

Fellow Human Being:

He started out last November in Santa Monica and is walking across the country to gain attention for

Now in terms of marital harmony, this wasn't the best time to have strange people in our home. But this guy's mission intrigued me. And when he arrived I had lots of questions.

Dude, I said, as he put down his backpack, where's the wine? You don't expect to sleep on my couch and not present your host with wine do you?

No wine. Adds too much weight apparently.

So I offered him a beer (he told me he could indeed drink and walk) and we sat down to a traditional midwest meal of Little Caesar's $5.00 pizza.

Unknown Person preceded to tell us about his mission, but I had more questions: Dude, have you slept under bridges, have you slept in cemeteries?

Yes, bridges. Yes, cemeteries. Yes to accidentally camping in someone's backyard and having to deal with police at dawn.

And what kind of walking shoes do you recommend?

Meg, Spouse scolded, let him talk about his message.

Oh. Sorry. But did Adidas sponsor you?


My purpose, he told us, is to connect with, and stimulate, the individual's capacity for broader and deeper self awareness.

Ahem. Dude, I asked, do you have a Cliff Notes version--for the kids of course?

Well, he continued, I believe the overwhelming majority of people sincerely want a better world, not just for themselves, but for each other as well. But what we want, and what we get, are not aligned and this implies that we are missing something.

Umm. Missing something? I'm not sure I get it.

I believe since the beginning of our history human beings have been naturally growing towards greater self discovery, and unity. He took a swig of beer. Look at the historical development of human equality, such as civil rights, the women's right to vote.

Hmm. Women's rights? I'm not quite sure I get it.

I also believe the first and foremost larger force to affect the common person is where, and to what degree, they themselves direct their own awareness. . .

Hold on, Dude, don't you have this narrowed down to a sound byte? I mean, what is it you're trying to say here?

Let him talk, Spouse reprimanded.

He continued. There are aspects of our own nature that can cause us to unconsciously loose sight of what we really care about.

Hmm. Lost sight? I'm still not sure.

This happens when these parts of our nature get into the driver's seat and make more immediate, instinctual and short sighted objectives into our highest priorities.

Hmm. I'm struggling here. Can you give me some examples? I asked.

Spouse rolled his eyes.

Sure. Some classic examples of this are: When two people who have the integrity of their shared love as an ultimate objective nevertheless each relentlessly pursue the lesser objective of "being right".

"Being Right"? BINGO.

I get it! I said excitely, Dude, you're a traveling marriage counselor!! Which is just what the doctor ordered!

Kids, off to bed now!!

Like every smart Walker Across America, Unknown Person is media saavy. Good luck Dude!


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HappyHourSue said...

2 things I need:
#1) An all-powerful Supreme Decider of Who Is Right to mediate marital disputes, because I always AM right and its so frustrating... and

#2) a cameraman to follow me everywhere.

King of New York Hacks said...

a one armed camera man is just as interesting as the walker.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but didn't you find what kind of shoes he wears?!? I mean, even Forrest Gump had a contract with Nike.

Another question for him: Has he ever read Tom Robbins? He just seems the hippie dippy type to have read, or be reading, Robbins.

for a different kind of girl said...

Um...dude still has me confused. Also, I think the only person who has gained a following walking across country is Forrest Gump, though TV has lied to me before, so I could be wrong.

A Free Man said...

I still don't get it. Went to his site and STILL don't get it. I think he just wants to walk across the country and is hoping to get some pub. Maybe I'm wrong. Good on him for walking!

My Name is Cat said...

At first I thought it might not be so bad having some stranger stay with me, but by the end of your piece, I remembered you can't spell stranger without the strange part.

Sarah said...


I like him!

(that word verification actually says FOOKINGS)


Suzie said...

Maybe Im hungry but all I can think about is that 45 pizza.

Jenn Thorson said...

Well, if I see this guy on the news, at least I'll know what's it's about...

...sorta... :)

Matt said...

Did he really say those things?? He sounds like a philosophy professor I once had. I got a C-.

muskrat said...

that's pretty cool. you should've followed him for a bit, like all those folks did with forrest gump.

Jannie said...

Deeper self awwareness can be gained via many routes I guess.

I wonder how often he will change hsi shoes?

sage said...

THanks for taking this guy in--when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, there were a few people who took pity on me and took me in for a night--and a lot more that fed me or had me for dinner, it was great to get to know them. Like others, I'm wondering about the one armed video guy.

Vodka Mom said...

I"m still mesmerized by the one arm camera man. How does that work, exactly???

Chat Blanc said...

unknown person is quite interesting, though if he wants to reach us more shallow people he may need to have less deep thoughts! ;)

April said...

And he did set spouse straight that YOU'RE always right, right? I mean, dude, you're the one who invited him in!