Happy Mondays: why all songwriters should all follow Paul Salopek

Posted by Craig Borlase on 10 June 2013

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has just begun a seven year, 21,000 mile walk, retracing our ancestors’ migration out of Africa and across the globe. What makes someone decide to give up seven years of their life to complete a journey that could be made in a week? Why walk so far, so slow, for so long?

Good questions. Over the next 80 months you can find out the answer for yourself. You can follow Paul Salopek's journey itself on the National Geographic site. It’s a pretty crazy affair; dangerous, expensive, slow. And while those first two usually make for good audience numbers, the last certainly does not.  

So why should you care about this guy’s journey?

First, it’s not about the footsteps. It’s about the people he meets along the way. Salopek’s seven year stroll is about storytelling. And (just like wide-eyed evangelists and you favourite ageing relatives) all songwriters are storytellers. 

Second, there’s the walk itself. Even a Sunday Schooler could list some of the significant walks that are mapped by the Bible; the escape from Egypt, the journey to Bethlehem, the return to Jerusalem. It does us good to be reminded of the fact that most of the time the journey is every bit as significant as the destination.

Finally, there’s the symbolism of the adventure. Seven years to travel away from Eden. Seven. Salopek might think he’s leaving it all behind, but I’ve got a feeling that - as well as plenty of suffering and trouble - he’s going to discover so much about the earth as God intended it to be. Couldn't we all do with a bit of that?

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