A Letter to Harold Fry

Dear Harold,

I know you are a fictitious character in a book but you need to know that there are 3 things I love about you:

#1: You like to walk

For starters, thanks for saying this: “If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it stands to reason that I'm going to get there. I've begun to think we sit far more than we're supposed to." He smiled. "Why else would we have feet?

I don’t know about you, Harold, but walking seems to - step by step - lend me perspective.

Somewhere along the line in my life, things didn’t go the way of the sketched dreams in my 10th grade peechee folder with hearts full of initials and practiced married names written in pretty cursive over and over. Line the reality up to the dream and it’s better to just to say you’re “fine.” And figure out what it all means and what you lost later.  And there’s nothing like a good long walk to pray, reflect and find the light in the path.

And you “found” yourself on your long walk, Harold. It was largely because you got a letter from an old, dear friend telling you she was dying of cancer. You wrote a letter back but soon realized it wasn’t enough. You needed to go see her – live and in person. And even though you are much too old for that sort of thing, you decided to walk and walk and walk until you got to your dying friend – hundreds of miles, across the whole of England.

It’s like you decided you hadn’t ever really done what you really wanted to do. And you were willing to change your tune. Wow. I love that you like to walk but I love that you said yes to adventure which meant you said NO to just being “fine and dandy.”

#2: I love the first sentence of your story:

“The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelt of clean washing and grass cuttings.”

Harold, my favorite thing to do when I start a new book is read the very first sentence and the very last sentence. Often, knowing where we start and where we end has SO little to do with the story told on the pages in between. If the start and end were all I knew of you, Harold, I would miss out on so much like the cast of characters you meet along your INSANELY LONG WALK

But I do love this first sentence. As in life, on a regular, ordinary Tuesday something can come along that absolutely changes everything; life, death, tragedy, celebration. For you that Tuesday it was like you decided to find your life while trying to help your friend fight her cancer. I saw an inner spark in you that changed your trajectory.

#3: You looked in the mirror

Here’s a quote about you that made me think of a project I’m working on – (*Cough this blog Cough*):

“Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.”

Here I am well past the 40-year milestone and the pesky winds of what-difference-will-I-make sometimes blow through my heart. Am I unique or regular? Extraordinary or average? Or something in between? And I think the same winds were the fan in your flame to…

Self-reflect

See what it all meant

Find where you got it right &

How it all fell apart.

I love the way you evaluated your life. And you realized your dying friend was a really important part of it all.

__Bottom Line?__

Harold Fry, that was SUCH a long walk (#drscholls). And, truthfully, it wasn’t always super exciting. But for an older guy, you got some chops! Way to leave it all out there. I’ve learned a lot from you.