Skip to main content

Ep 021 Walking to Listen with Andrew Forsthoefel

Aug 5, 2019

Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, speaker, and peace activist After graduating from Middlebury College, he was ready to begin his adult life, but didn’t know how. 

So he decided to take a cross-country quest in search of guidance. His goal was to see everyone he met as his guide.

In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. and as challenging as those both were they paled in comparison to the beasts he met inside himself: fear, loneliness, doubt. 

Thought he was advised to not trust anyone, he encountered incredible kindness from strangers of all all races and economics. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. 

He wanted to know how to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers that he hoped would come until he began to find that the answers might be in listening itself.

After his year-long walk across America, Andrew began sharing the stories of the people he met. 

He co-produced a radio documentary about this project that was featured on “This American Life,” and wrote his book, Walking to Listen, which goes deeper into the stories and explores the practice and philosophy of walking to listen.

Andrew now writes and speaks about the discipline of trustworthy listening and its role in the work of reconciliation, transformational resistance, and peace-making at the personal and collective levels. He gives workshops and trains participants in the work of becoming a trustworthy listener. 

So much of who he is is a younger version who i am as the moment i finished my book one year ago, i felt to out on the road and be with the people no one listens too.


Topic we spoke about:

* How Andrew reminds me of Mo, the main character in my book The Mosaic, and a younger version of me.

* Even as an 8th grader, it seems somehow Andrew had an instinct that he would be walking to do something in the world.

* The cookie cutter of normal vs the unique expression of being your true self and the confusion that comes when we don’t fit in.

* What was the thing Andrew was most scared of?

* Whose life will I be living if I don’t know myself. Whose life will I be living if I don’t know myself?

* In a world where you listened to others, did you ever feel listened to? And did you ever really allow yourself to be listened to and seen in the pain you were walking with?

* To really share your vulnerability can be really scary.

*  How Andrew could listen and be there for others when he didn’t trust others to listen to him.

* How people on the walk and everywhere taught Andrew to listen?

* How people experienced being listened to by a trustworthy listener?

* The practice of being alone allowed me to see some part of me in every one I met, and the process of encountering myself everyday walking by myself across the country and getting in touch with my hearts capacity to feel.

* The courage to deal with the inner demons you met along the way.

* Experience the miracle of encountering another human being.

* Understanding the magic that comes when we realise we can’t do this alone.

* How the journey of 4,000 miles comes into today’s moment.

* The BeKind2U 21 day Consecutive Day Challenge

* How do you reconcile now that you speak about listening more than doing your practice of listening?

To learn more about Andrew, please go to his website:

Leave a Reply