LUNENBURG —At 23 years old, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out of his mother’s back door near Philadelphia with a backpack, an audio recorder and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.”
He wanted to learn about how people could learn to live with one another in peace and hopefully with more love and compassion.
“I had just graduated from college, and I had so many questions,” said Forsthoefel. “Who am I as a young man, as Andrew? Who are we as diverse human beings, as America? Why do we seem to hate each other so much? How can we learn to live with one another in peace, and even in love?”
He resolved to walk every step of the way, on the highways, seeing everyone as his teacher. Nearly one year after he began, 4,000 miles from his mother’s house, Forsthoefel made it to the Pacific Ocean outside San Francisco.
He will present his book “Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time” from 3-5 p.m., Sunday, June 30, at the Lunenburg Middle-High School auditorium, located at 1079 Massachusetts Ave.
“This talk will explore Andrew’s coast-to-coast listening walk,” says Muir Haman, library director of the Lunenburg Public Library, “with stories and insights from his time on the road. The Friends of the Lunenburg Public Library, the library trustees, and I were excited to bring this program to our community, because Andrew’s work represents an antidote to the lack of connection and lack of humane treatment for other humans that is showing up in our world.”
Throughout the talk, Andrew will invite the audience to consider the practice of listening.
“What is deep listening? How is it an integral part of the way forward, as we seek to understand and heal our multifarious national divides, and the divisions in our own minds and hearts?” Forsthoefel asks.
He believes that people don’t listen because we live in a society that doesn’t understand what true listening is, “and therefore doesn’t recognize its importance in the work of becoming authentic, connected human beings.”
“Our culture tends to glamorize and reward those who talk, not those who listen. This will only change when each one of us commits ourselves to the lifestyle of listening first in our personal lives, from one moment to the next. It takes practice, and the practice never ends,” Forsthoefel said.
A question and answer discussion will follow.
In addition to authoring the book, Forsthoefel is a speaker and peace activist. His narrative work has appeared on the National Public Radio shows “This American Life” and “The Moth.”
Andrew lives Northampton and he is a writer, radio producer, and public speaker. He facilitates workshops on walking and listening as practices of personal transformation, interconnection, and conflict resolution.
“I give these talks to inspire reflection and conversation about the importance of trustworthy listening as a tool for personal growth and cultural transformation,” Forsthoefel explained. “Your individual ability to listen deeply to your own life and to the lives of those around you is the foundation of all peace-making work.”
“It starts with you, here and now. Are you listening? If people walk away from my talk feeling connected to the power of their listening, I’ll have succeeded,” he said enthusiastically.
Registration for this program is required and appreciated.
To register, call the Lunenburg Public Library at 978-582-4140 or visit the library’s Events Calendar online at lunenburglibrary.org.
For more information on Andrew’s journey, you are welcome to visit livingtolisten.com