Ever since the cultural phenomenon, Eat, Pray, Love released in 2007, it seems the key to finding oneself and perhaps, enlightenment, is to journey across the globe, greeting every language, cultural and social barrier with open arms. While Liz Gilbert used her personal savings to fund the trip, TV host, producer and author of The Kindness Diaries Leon Logothetis wanted to try a slightly more daring and hopeful approach: to fund his entire trip by the kindness of strangers. That’s right—kindness, not money. Leaving his new L.A. home with less than $20 in his pocket and an empty-tanked vintage yellow motorbike, Logothetis risked it all in the hopes of finding something that our society pins as lost: the kindness of strangers. He relied on just that to fuel his trip across the globe, including gas for his motorbike, food for his stomach and hopefully, most nights, a roof over his head.
This hopeful and heartfelt memoir proves that with some hope, honesty and faith, people are willing to open up their homes, kitchens and souls to a complete stranger, expecting absolutely nothing in return. What they, and Logothetis found, was that they did get something back, it was something more than they could ever have imagined.
Here’s an excerpt from The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothetis.
I started riding, and then I realized the patently obvious: I was lost. And not just, “Oh, it’s only around the corner” lost. I was Italy lost. Which meant I was in the middle of a field in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. I pulled over to look at the map again. Whatever road I was supposed to take I had clearly missed, and whatever road I was on, I couldn’t find on the chicken scratches Ricardo had drawn for me. He said it was twenty minutes outside of the town, but that was an hour ago. So I did what any good sailor does when lost at sea, I started to pray. Out loud. In a field. In Italy.
So um, universe, I’m really grateful for this map. And I am grateful to Ricardo for giving it to me, but I could really use your help right now. Because I’m lost. Like, really lost. And scared. In fact, as I’m sure you can see I am in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s lovely during the daytime. I’m sure you did a great job, but I really have to get to this man’s house because I want a bed. I need to sleep. I mean, I am the captain of kindness, you know? And the captain of kindness never gets lost!
I stopped and realized that whatever divine spirit might be out there may not respond to pride—it is one of the seven deadly sins, isn’t it? I needed to change my approach. Maybe the spirits would respond better to pity?
Okay, universe, God, old chap. You see, driving this bike is not easy. It’s very challenging. Emotionally and physically. It’s very challenging. And to be lost in the middle of nowhere doesn’t help, I am afraid. I don’t know. Sometimes I honestly just want to give up and go home. All I really want to know is where Filipo lives. That’s all. I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll become a Hare Krishna, and I will sell Kindness One at a scrap heal in Dehli. Just help me find Filipo’s.
I waited. And then I looked down at poor Kindness One, whose fate I had just bargained with.
Help me, Kindness One. You’re my only hope.
Then in the distance I saw two bright lights. Either this car was going to save me, or it was going to run me over. At this point, I was willing to take my chances. I waved it down and asked a rather bemused Italian man for help.
The Kindness Diaries book trailer.
Excerpted from The Kindness Diaries, A Reader’s Digest Book, copyright © 2015 by Leon Logothetis. Used by permission of The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., www.rd.com. Available wherever books are sold.