WILLARD, Ohio (AP) — Bruce Tanner walked nearly 800 miles from Maine to Ohio to prove there are still good people in the world, but he has no intentions of slowing his goal of being kind to others and spreading positivity.
Tanner, who lives in Plymouth, got home Tuesday night from the 21-day trek he billed "the tireless pursuit of positivity" across the northeast United States.
"It felt a lot longer than 21 days," he said.
A crowd of 75 to 100 friends and family lined U.S. 224 in Willard to greet Tanner at Levels Gym, which he owns, even though he didn't necessarily want the attention for a trip he said was not about him.
"Hopefully people get that people are really good out there," he said. "That's really the takeaway from it, that people are pretty awesome."
Tanner said as he got closer to home, he felt pressure about returning to his normal life and felt sad the journey was ending. He considered briefly stopping at home but then continuing the trip.
"I don't know if that would prove anymore," he said. "Do I need to go all around the world? Do I need to navigate the sea, do I need to learn to speak Japanese and go through Russia? Do I need to do that to prove that people are good? I don't think so. I think that it was proven. I think that most people are (good)."
Tanner said although it's not his place to inspire others to do good, he hopes his trip shows people not to overthink things and just try to help others.
"People just need to get more fired up to help people and be more caring," he said. "Simple little gestures should be appreciated more and probably done more freely and not worry about what happens. Just do it."
Tanner said he believes there are very few dangerous people in the world, so people should risk it to help others.
"People put themselves in dangerous situations all the time, so why not take a gamble?" he said.
Tanner started the journey Oct. 26. He generally walked about 10 miles a day, but he covered more distance when he got rides.
Tanner said he came up with the idea for the journey last year. He bought a $115 bus ticket to Portland, Maine, a bus ride that took 21 hours. He used Google Maps to search the walking route from Portland to Plymouth, a journey that cuts through Maine, southern New Hampshire, southern Vermont, a nearly 400-mile swath of New York, northeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio.
He took a bus to Portland, Maine, with no money — only a tent, sleeping bag, backpack and enough food for three days — relying on people he met along the way to provide food, shelter and sometimes rides. More than 60 people helped Tanner along the way.
"Everything you have is in that little pack, and you wanna take care of it and it doesn't seem like a burden to carry that," Tanner said of his 45-pound backpack, a burden that seemed heavy before he left.
But Tanner said on his trip, he learned material possessions are not that important.
"I don't really miss the comforts that I have," he said. "All those comforts that I worked to get, like my bed or my truck, I'm not really excited about them. Actually, I kind of dread them a little bit. Having all this stuff, it's kind of like why. That's not really what it's about. Stuff doesn't matter."
Tanner is considering writing a book about the experience, one he called "eye-opening."
"The only expectations I had going into it was I was gonna prove to people something that I felt like I already knew in that people are good," he said. "In reality, I think I did prove that, and I think I proved that people are maybe even better than what I thought. And they're far better than me. Far more caring than me. And I feel like that's something that I need to work on."
Information from: News Journal, http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com