On today's episode of People We Envy, we feature Catherine Li: a 24-year-old woman who has spent the last seven months walking across America—across purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain—with nothing but a shopping cart full of necessities and her adventurous spirit. We totally support her endeavor.
Li's not doing her walk for charity, or to produce online content (she's not blogging, Facebooking, or Tweeting about her trip), or to raise awareness of any particular political cause, or to raise awareness of herself. She's doing it because she's young, alive, physically fit enough for the journey, and—the best reason of all—just wanted to, as MSNBC reports:
"At first, I was so urgent (to respond) so I just started to tell them all the feelings I was having but I realized that was tough to do. So I just boil it down to the short version: I just felt like walking. I just decided to click over to living in the actual moment instead of inventing all these fantastic fantasies for the future."
Li's 3,000 journey began in the Bay Area and will end in New York City. Along the way, she's met a few anti-homeless creeps and other assholes, but mostly she's encountered lots of generous and caring people—a welcome reminder that, except for Arizona, America is still full of civil, good-natured souls:
"People have given me a lot of support," she said. "They give me McDonald's gift cards and insist I take them. One time I went into a store and found $20 just sitting in my cart outside. I have no idea who left it."
Given how our culture's become increasingly dependent upon electronic, somewhat artificial forms of communication, glorifies and incentivizes oversharing and other narcissistic pursuits, pushes kids to start thinking about their career trajectories almost straight out of the womb, and marginalizes idealism in favor of "strategy" and pragmatism, it's refreshing to see someone like Li come along and chuck all that aside in favor of some good-old fashioned youthful questing. A little self-indulgence can be good if you use the opportunity to observe your surroundings and soak in the reality that's taking place all around you, and it sounds like that's exactly what Li's doing. She's looking at the clouds, getting a close-up view of America's diverse terrain, figuring things out, and interacting with all sorts of people who probably don't agree with her on every point or even understand what the hell she's doing, but are nevertheless willing to do what they can and help her reach her destination.
Even though she's not using the Internet to raise a big fuss about her adventures, she'll hopefully consider writing a book about her experiences. It could be great.