The Road is an amazing teacher with lessons around each bend and over each rise on the horizon. I have travelled to every state in the United States at least five times and most of the Provinces of Canada to speak. Delta Air Lines has flown me 2 1/2 million miles and Amtrak has taken me coast to coast, both west to east, and north to south. And toward what goal, you may ask? From the very first road trip, I wanted to inspire and empower students to live each day fully; to actualize their full potential; and to make the world a better place. I have told that story 10,000 times. Live, love, choose, be present, be spiritual, forgive, move on, risk, accept oneself and one's place in the universe, have faith, and trust. This has been more lecture, my story, my sermon...my life.
Would that I had the time and space to tell you about Dr. Don Duns, Ken Taylor, Char Burgess, Barb Robel, Dr. Ray Zarvell, Dr. Dick Hage, Judy Chambers, Father Robert Silva, Dr. Tom Shoemaker, Kathy Page, Neal Pahia, Dr. Sparky Reardon, Dr. Kent Gardner, Dr. Marcus Borg, Coach Tom Stubbs, Chief Ken Elwer, Gen. Richard Myers, Mrs. Versolenko, Dr. Michael Beachley, Louis Frazier, Pat Summit, Dr. Ed Bryan, or the White Sands of New Mexico, Old Mesilla, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Yosemite National Park in California, Assateague Island in Maryland, Mr. Jefferson's University of Virginia, The Crypts of John Paul Jones and Robert E. Lee, St. George Island in Florida, the Hill Country in Texas, the Badlands in South Dakota, Heritage Hall at USC, Lake Superior, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, The Columbia River in Oregon, 21,000 people at a Lady Vols Basketball game in Tennessee, the Domain at The University of The South, or the Dome at Notre Dame. We could talk about Cincinnati Chili (3,4, or 5 Way), Pasties, the Briggitine Monk's Fudge, Texas Brisket, Pulled Pork, soft crab rolls, Maine lobster, New York pizza, real Buffalo wings, cedar plank salmon, Chicago steaks, flat bread, Key lime pie, Dreamland ribs, New Mexico huevos rancheros, stuffed shells, chocolate soup, and Commander's Palace.
What a journey it has been. Looking out my train window with a glass of Grant Burge Australian Shiraz reading Senator John McCain's "Why Courage Matters: The Way To A Braver Life", Tom Peters' "Leadership", Father Nouwen's "Can You Drink The Cup?", Thomas Merton's "New Seeds Of Contemplation", Lao Tzu's "The Tao Te Ching", Gregory Hoff's "The Tao of Pooh", Mary Catherine Bateson's "Composing A Life", Chogyan Trungpa's "Shambala: The Sacred Path Of The Warrior", C.S. Lewis' "Readings For Meditation & Relection", Jan Aldredge Clanton's "God & Gender: In Whose Image". "How can you take the train?", they ask. "How long does it take to get from Washington, D.C. to Portland, Oregon." "About five books", is my response. "You took your son on a train for 66 hours? What did you do?" "We watched movies on my computer, talked, and played catch in 11 states. We made memories for him to have of me when I am gone and something for me to smile about when I am about to leave this world for the next." Friends, what is the great rush? Toward what end?
I do have a Ph.D., have written a number of books, and hold enough awards that mean something to me. However, my greatest accomplishment is the co-creation with Donna, my wife, and The Creator, of four wonderful, bright, caring, energetic, thinking and feeling children. The world is and will be a better place because of their place in it, and for that reason, no matter what happens to me, what fortunes or misfortunes fall my way, I have truly been successful. Everyday with them is an eternal blessing to me. My heart breaks each time I lecture because I meet students who were never more than an incovenience in the lives of their parents. I specialize in these students and take great pride in nurturing them, encouraging them, and inspiring them to make their lives a masterpeace from this day forward.
Will Keim Speaks!...and he listens too. My work has never been about money which is perhaps the reason that I do not have much of it. What I do have is a heart full of content, a file full of moving letters from students, and a head full of ideas that I want to share with students until my last breath. When the children were little, I would tell them, "I am the richest guy in the neighborhood." They would say, "Do we have a lot of money?" Borrowing from my dad Jack, I would say, "Kids we don't have a pot to pee in, but we have love, we have each other, and therefore we are the richest family on the block."
You can get rich too if you choose to carefully define your riches in terms of people, and not things. I hope you will do this. Thank you for listening to me. Most importanly, thank you for the great things you are going to accomplish in your life to make the world better for the children coming after us." Family, Faith, & Farm (Profession). Think about it. What else really matters?
Will Keim, Ph.D.