Running Barefoot Across 23 Countries in Africa in the Name of Love & Unity
I've heard some incredible paths over the years, but none have been as physically phenomenal and as moving in purpose than that of Nick Lawson.
You don’t cross paths with a special soul like this every day.
If you follow Finding Your Path Book's social media, you would have seen a photo from Africa this week, taken by my sister, Sande, who was visiting an old school friend there.
But this wasn’t just any old trip to Africa. Sande was visiting 27-year-old, Nick Lawson, who's running (and hitch-hiking) across 23 countries, barefoot, from South Africa to Tunisia to spread the message of love.
In the name of love!
Isn’t that incredible?
He began on 13 February 2018 in Cape Agulhas and plans to finish his journey in 1 year. In all my years of speaking with and interviewing pathways, I have never come across one that is so emotionally selfless and so physically intense!
So of course, I was intrigued by his decision to set off on his adventure.
What factors align to inspire such a path?
Here I share Nick's journey, not only to cure my own curiosity but for the graduates around Australia who are beginning to question their own paths at this time of the year.
Nick agreed to me picking his brain and helped to shed light on his decisions while sharing some tales of his travels so far.
I hope you feel as uplifted and inspired by this unedited and honest interview as I did...
1. What you're doing is absolutely incredible! When did you first realise you were going to do something so different?
Nick: I guess from my early 20's I knew that I was going to do something different.
As I was coming through high school and then entering the "real world" I always had a feeling that I was a bit different to what I saw going on around me. I was just always interested in humans and how they felt. I saw in our society of Sydney that not many people actually did care about each other.
I saw that money and "success" were what we were meant to go after instead of loving and caring about each other and it made it a bit difficult for me, inside, growing up in a world like that.
2. What was your inspiration for embarking on such a courageous and selfless adventure?
Nick: For the last 9 years I have been traveling around the world and then returning to Australia to try and be "normal" and find a career.
I have seen and met beautiful beautiful humans from many different cultures and ethnicities and realised that we are all the same, it's just what we are taught by our society that differentiates us.
When I was 18 I was living in a small town in Canada and was a housekeeper at a hotel. I was working with many people from the Philippines and Brasil, some of whom were doctors or hotel owners in their countries.
Because of the colour of my skin and my passport I was allowed to be these humans boss, whilst their visas only allowed for them to be the lowest level of housekeeping, they couldn't even hold a team leaders position.
This was when I first realised how unjust this beautiful world was and from then on I have been learning to love myself and BE who I feel like not who I think I have to be.
I believe that if we as a global society can learn to love ourselves, each other and the planet more then the whole world changes. So through me doing this "selfless" journey I am learning to love myself more and BE who I know I can be.
3. Is there something specific you were hoping to achieve along this journey?
I have already achieved it my friend. Getting people to think about love and what it means to them.
I get messages from all around the world on a daily basis from people talking about love, changing the world and working together for the good of humanity.
Even before I stepped foot in Africa my goal was achieved so now I am just letting it happen.
One of the highlights of the journey for me, before I left Sydney, was meeting a man who has been in the Army and then left to do private security and private military contracts in conflict zones all around the world.
When I told him what I am doing he began to tear up and told me that "he had seen and done things that no human should ever have to see or do and the reason that all of these atrocities and acts of violence from humans to humans and our planet is because there is not enough LOVE in the world".
That is why I am here.
4. I'm sure you're seeing some incredible sights. But with all travel comes the tougher moments. Can you share any challenging moments along your journey so far?
Nick: The biggest challenges I have faced are my feet and my mind.
I am doing it barefoot to show people what we are capable of and also to show people who can not afford shoes (millions and millions of them) that I am with them and that just because I am a white man does not mean I am different to them.
I was only barefoot for about 3 months before coming to Africa, which was not long enough to toughen my feet up and so having no shoes on has allowed me to focus more on connecting with people and sharing the message than running a marathon a day like I originally intended.
My mind. So all of our troubles as humans comes from our relationships with our mind and how we identify with each situation we are in. When I am tired and on the road my mind focuses on how sore my feet are, but when I catch my thoughts going that way I just take a deep breath and think of something positive.
One of the biggest challenges I had in the beginning was thinking about who I had to "be" to do something like this. I thought I had to be Jesus, Superman and Buddha all at the same time, but once I realised that all I have to be is myself and that that is enough, then I became less judgemental of myself.
And then obviously food, water and heat are some challenges but they were always going to be a challenge ;)
5. I couldn't ask the previous question without following up to ask what's been some highlights so far? We all want to hear about those glorious countries through your eyes!
Nick: The highlights are far to many to be able to name just a few but I will try.
Obviously that conversation with the Australian ex-army guy was one.
But the favourite thing that constantly happens over here in every country is I will be walking or running along in a rural area and older women without shoes stop me and we hold each other's hands and hug and look into each other's eyes and even though we don't speak the same language we understand each other and I can truly feel and see the love and compassion that they have for me.
Many villages I go into people come and say hello to me and just say you are welcome here and we are so happy to see you.
5. Over the years I've been collecting pieces of advice from people who've found their way into various pathways after school.
Looking back on your experience, what advice would you share with a graduate who had no idea what they want to do when finishing school this year?
Nick: When I finished high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I still don't. Apart from living the best life that I can.
One piece of advice I can give is find your passion. Find the thing that makes your whole body alive and makes your heart beat with such intensity that you can not imagine doing anything else. Listen to who you are and who you want to be and forget all the pressures and expectations from our society to "be" a lawyer or an economist etc and just do what feels right for you.
Find people that make you feel alive and comfortable and don't judge yourself so much. You are all incredible humans and are capable of so much, you just have to challenge yourself and the social norms.
It won't be easy but life was never going to be easy. If you put the effort in and find who you really are then your life will be incredible.
Nick, thank you for being the change in this world!
Connect with Nick
Nick would be more than happy to connect with any of our readers looking to ask further questions.
You can reach him online:
Follow his journey mapped out here
Help support Nick spread the love through his GoFundMe Campaign here.