That small voice within


Jeff Rudisill. Star-Telegram photo by Ron Jenkins

A few words of homage to the eccentric dreamers among us — ordinary people who do extraordinary things because a small voice in the head tells them, as in the case of Jeff Rudisill: “I need to do this, or forget about it.”
Rudisill is walking across America, not “to honor the troops or save the whales or raise money to find a cure for plantar fascitis,” as David Casstevens of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote Saturday of the 69-year-old retiree’s six-month, 2,800-mile perambulation across deserts, mountains, rivers and swamps.
Rudisill, of Daleville, Va., left Dana Point, Calif., on the Pacific Coast, on Aug. 31 and started walking east toward Emerald Isle, N.C., on the Atlantic Coast, which he expects to reach in mid-February. He averages 20 to 25 miles per day and carries all of his needs — tent, sleeping bag, toiletries, food and drink, a pocket New Testament and a laptop computer for blogging about his journey on a three-wheeled pushcart.
Rudisill walked into Fort Worth, his halfway point, on Nov. 11 and said some nice things about my hometown in his blog, Walkingman 2011: “How can you not like a place with the nickname of ‘Cowtown,’ a major street paved with red brick, cows herded by cowboys down the street at mid-day each day, and a Will Rogers Auditorium with a Paint horse show?”

Jeff Rudisill on the road with all his needs. Star-Telegram photo by Ron Jenkins

So why are you doing this? Casstevens asked Rudisill. For the environment? The homeless? Women’s rights? World peace?
Rudisill’s answer: “I like walkin’.”
That’s good enough for me.
Rudisill, like me, is retired and has the time to indulge his passions. I, too, heard a small voice in my head, about a bicycle ride across America. It said something like: “Well, you’ve been talking about it for years. You damned well better do it before you’re too old, lazy or decrepit, or you’ll forever regret not doing it.”
So, like Rudisill, I heeded the voice. During my first full year of retirement, I rode my bicycle across the United States — 65 days and 3,130 miles from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla.
Mission accomplished. The small voice stilled.
Rudisill’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Abby, according to the Star-Telegram story, asked him before his trip: “Pawpaw, why don’t you just drive?”
I’m not sure how he answered, but I believe I understand Mr. Rudisill’s reasons pretty well.
As Mark Twain, one of my heroes and literary idols, once said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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7 Comments

Filed under Americana, Cool stuff, Journeys, Travels

7 responses to “That small voice within

  1. John Vandevelde

    Wow! When you can only cover 25 miles per day, it has to be near impossible to find a route with enough food, water, and campgrounds/facilities, especially across the Great Southwest . Must have been many dry, eat-what you-brung camps along the side of the road.
    I can be determined, but cannot imagine doing that.
    Jeff Rudisill has to be one tough guy!

  2. Hi Jim,
    thanks for the kind words. Here’s my answer to Abby from the July 12 post on my blog:

    Abby, I wish I had an answer for you. Because at times, I ask myself the same questions. But as maybe you’ve already learned in your young life, sometimes we do things and we really don’t understand why.

    Maybe I just want to give you and the “cousins” a memory to carry throughout your life. Or maybe I want to show you just how far I will walk to go to the beach with you next year. Or maybe I want to show you that you can do most anything, no matter how crazy or hard it seems.

    There must be answers to your questions, maybe someday you and I will figure it all out. But for now, these are the best answers I have. Anyhow, Grandma and me can ride in a car when we get old.

    • Jeff,
      Thanks for your comment and thanks for looking at my blog. I’ll be following your progress toward the Atlantic Coast via your blog. By the way, I liked your comment about Abby so much that I made it a separate post on my blog.
      Cheers and be safe,
      Jim Peipert

  3. inturlock

    Nice posting again! Jim’s Bike Blog always makes for inspiring reading.

  4. Pingback: An answer for Abby « Jim’s Bike Blog

  5. Abby Lillard

    My name is Abby and my papaw is Jeff Rudisill. I am still not sure about why he is walking but I am very proud of him for doing it. Be safe and have a great walk! I love you

  6. I’m a Rudisill and I’m really proud of you, Mr. Jeff. I hope someone will tell me if you made it back or not. You may have passed my house in south Charlotte on the way! Lisa Rudisill

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