At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.”
He had just graduated from university and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided he’d walk and listen on a journey of 4,000 miles across the USA over the course of 11 months.
What started as a quest to explore and to listen to other's perspectives, quickly became a deep, introspective journey into his own self; his fears, doubts, joys, solace and loneliness.
As he navigated his way across the US, having interactions ranging from the most ordinary to the most profound, he found a world that was a mirror of himself and a journey that was a pilgrimage of the soul.
Along the way, thousands of people shared their stories with him, often exposing their most intimate selves to a stranger who was deeply committed to listening.
Those conversations were often tinged with threads of pain, be they from long-held divisions in race and class or from the moving stories of personal heartbreak and sacrifice.
Each one provided Andrew an opportunity for deep listening and reflection, and within it the potential for profound inner transformation.
By the end of his journey, Andrew was a different person with a new perspective on what it means to come of age today.
Having been transformed through the power of listening, his experience is a beacon of light to inspire others to step out into the world, connect deeply to others and find themselves in the process.
- What was the central question, the curiosity, that fuelled your quest across the USA?
- How did you the kindness of strangers affect your belief systems about yourself and the world?
- What is the nature of deep listening and how does it connect people?
- What did you learn about yourself from the loneliness and solitude of the trip?
- How has your ability to be with yourself changed your relationships with others?
- What did you make of each person's deep desire to be listened to?
- How does listening transform us on an inner level?
- What did saying goodbye to people everyday teach you about the impermanence of things?
- What did it teach you about grief?
- How can we rethink the way we are with our experience through appreciating the art of listening?