At a glance:Dubbed “a modern-day Huckleberry Finn” by CNN, adventurer/storyteller Neal Moore shares lessons learned from a solo 7,500-mile transcontinental odyssey of illumination, connectivity and hope in a style of journalism all his own, slow and low down from the viewpoint of a canoe.
Dubbed “a modern-day Huckleberry Finn” by CNN, adventurer/storyteller Neal Moore shares lessons learned from a solo 7,500-mile transcontinental odyssey of illumination, connectivity and hope in a style of journalism all his own, slow and low down from the viewpoint of a canoe.
After living most of his life in Africa and East Asia, Neal felt a blazing desire to reconnect with a part of who he is, to experience his native country up close and personal, to travel America’s first thoroughfares via its first mode of transport, the canoe. Bent on exploration, akin to a quest, Neal wanted to discover where America has been and where it is headed. He became the first person known to paddle a canoe solo and continuously across the United States from the West Coast to the East Coast. Paddling the wrong way, the hard way, his journey linked 22 rivers and waterways in 22 states over 22 months, from Astoria, Oregon, to New York City, with a circuit of the Statue of Liberty as the grand finale. His trip took place in the midst of a global pandemic and a contentious election cycle as he explored the threads that tie us together – even during a time of extreme polarization by race, class and political ideology.
Neal Moore is the author of Down the Mississippi, an account of a solo canoe voyage from the Mississippi’s headwaters at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to New Orleans, and, most recently, Homelands: A Memoir, about his time as a naïve, 19-year-old Mormon missionary in South Africa as it was throwing off white-minority rule. A nomad, public speaker and itinerant scribbler, Neal’s reporting has taken him from night-market meetings with Chinese cyber-dissidents to mountaintop encounters with approaching super typhoons. His dispatches from North America, Africa and the Far East have appeared in The New Yorker, Der Spiegel and on CNN International. His “sea to shining sea” journey of illumination was covered by news outlets around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London and Adventure Magazine of New Zealand. Neal will appear in a series of cards with the images of entertainers, journalists and sports icons issued in 2022 by Topps Allen & Ginter.
Finding Bliss in Letting GoIn finding the bliss in letting go, in pushing oneself “out there,” Neal Moore provides actionable insight into the art of placing and pushing and willing oneself out and into the unknown. Through the unique stories of his journey through America, he illustrates the balance between town and country, between wildness and humanity. By encouraging audiences to truly observe, listen to, and most importantly, feel, the wonder around them, they are ultimately able to find the undercurrent, rhyme and reason in their own personal journeys.
-Learn to harness the power and the alchemy of vulnerability.
-Gain tools to embrace the wildness inside and around yourself
- Harness the power of release, the saving grace in “letting go.”
Plot Your Journey and See Your Way ThroughOn any quest, you’ve got to have a goal. For Neal, it was to paddle a canoe from West Coast to East, the hard way, the wrong way, to earn a rarefied view of the Statue of Liberty from the American side.
Part of the fun – a talisman of the adventure of this life – is the map. As you unfurl your own map across your classroom or the kitchen or the boardroom table, you unfurl the map across your mind. And you get to work out your very own Point A and Point B and your crooked path in between - because we all know that it won’t be a simple, straight line.
-Learn the motto: Slow down – slow the hell down – and enjoy the ride.
-Understand that when we set our minds to it, we can go anywhere and we can do anything.
-Develop the courage to paddle upstream, to struggle, to fight, and realize our goals.
A Journey of Illumination into the Heart of America:On that very last day in New York Harbor – after 22 rivers and 22 states and 22 months and 7,500 miles – Neal Moore at long last approached the torch of Lady Liberty. The sensation was overwhelming. As he slowly paddled and took in the view from the American side, his journey came back in flashes - of the smiles, the simple acts of kindness, the genuine article that is the American People. Like a highlight reel, the true American spirit was illuminated in the faces of all he had met all along the journey.
In his keynote speech, A Journey of Illumination into the Heart of America, Neal shows us how the characters we meet along the way - along our journey, are the characters that hold the power to transform how we look at our nation and how we see ourselves and our place in the world.
-Embrace that in hard times, that especially in hard times, this is when we roll up our sleeves and develop empathy. When our neighbors, our colleagues, our community have the chance to become family.
-Learn that it is open-mindedness that connects us.
-Discover that if we stop to listen and observe and, most importantly, feel, the fire is still burning.