Paul Salopek has spent a lifetime traveling around the world. The traveler has learned a few important lessons during his journey and has lived life in a way that very few people get to experience. The man now talks about these experiences and shares with the world some words of wisdom.
Man Who Spent Decade Walking The Longest Route Around The World Shares What He Has Learned
Paul Salopek started his 24,000-mile journey with no idea what the journey means for him.
It is believed our ancestors made their way out into the world from Africa centuries ago. The journalist also wanted to avail this opportunity to bring to the world the major stories of those voices that are rarely heard.
Starting in Ethiopia back in 2013, Paul set off on his journey, trekking through Jordan, Turkey, Bangladesh, and most recently China, to name just a few.
Paul has walked thousands of miles and has met people of different backgrounds and cultures, with whom he's formed lifelong friendships.
Talking to UNILAD about his adventure, Paul said it's these bonds that have given him greater clarity on the world.
"I was raised in another culture other than my own; my parents were from California," he tells us.
"We went to Mexico when I was six years old, and I spent most of my childhood in Mexican schools, you know, watching Mexican movies, falling in love with the country.
"And so that was really when I think I absorbed the lesson that we're basically a big, fractious, noisy, quarrelsome family, and as long as you approach it that way, that we're relatives and cousins, you tend to find a space wherever you go.
"I'm not saying we're identical, but that's what's so great, that's where a great narrative comes in is.
"You know, when you talk about anything with somebody in Uzbekistan or in London, odds are if you spend enough time, two hours say, they'll talk about 85 to 90 percent of the same things: who loves me, who doesn't, etc.
"But what's different? There's 7.7 billion unique personalities in the world, and I think that's where the story resides.
"The real to me interesting story is between the vast commonalities but then the tiny fraction of difference that defines everything, right, defines a personality.
"And there's no two personalities alike. I've met thousands of people on this project, and I met thousands before I did this project, and it's flabbergasting.
"It's just, I can never take it as a matter of course, just how incredibly amazing that is."
Paul has gone through a long journey around the world and one thing he has noticed growing with time is a disconnection between humans.
The way in which we interact with the landscape around us, whether it's through the tools we use or the 'footprints we leave on trails and trading routes', he says, is 'vanishing very fast'.
"It's likely that the flat you're in now or the vehicle you're driving is conformed to the needs and mechanics and physics of the machinery needed to build those things," he says.
"It's not to you. And I don't know about you, but I can tell the difference now, having walked so long in the last kind of glimmers of a world that was scaled to our body, where we were like, organically, where we fit in with landscape.
"And no matter what we did to the landscape, we were of it, because it was muscle built.
"That world is vanishing. It's like the extinction of languages around the world. It's just, it's just gone."
But while Paul admits this is a deeply personal observation and is unlikely to cause anyone to have 'sleepless nights', he says 'there's a cost to pay'.
The traveler finds himself more and more confused with the 'modern life.'
He says: "When I come into cities, after long periods and rural areas, I get lost all the time, there's so many right angles, because nothing in rural countrysides or nature is rectangular, it's all curvilinear.
"So I bumble around, but also I feel that they're very strangely insubstantial, that I can put my hand through the walls of skyscrapers. Because they seem just not of the place."