The First Step is the Hardest

I spent the last several years trying to find my place in life. I began searching for it through the Church; in allegiance to God, I sought to be a servant. I searched for it in other people, entertaining them, serving them, and knowing them. And I searched for it in myself, only to find that one of the reasons I couldn’t find my place was due to what this society deems a neurological disorder. I was damaged, unfruitful, and unable to function properly in society without continuous medication and treatment.

Ten years ago, I embarked on an adventure that has truly changed my life. Finding myself at a place in life where I was extremely disconcerted with where my first two decades had taken me, I was looking for a new direction. Recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and having spent the greater part of the previous decade trying to come to grips with the dogmatic creeds of evangelism I grew up with, I hit a breaking point and decided to do something about it. So, in Summer 2001, I took to the road to find myself and write the book that would come to be known as The Rucksack Letters.

What I have found since then has truly been remarkable. I have learned a lot about myself, as well as the world around me. One of the things that I have definitely noticed is that there may just be an evolutionary reason why this “disorder” called ADHD sprouted up when it did. There may be a reason why Adberger’s and Autism has started to become more diagnosed as well. Perhaps we need these types of thinkers to break free from the problems we have created for ourselves and move forward to the next stage of our progress.

The truth is that I don’t believe in ADD in its most popular form. It’s not that I don’t believe in it exactly, I just don’t consider it a disorder. A “disorder” is considered to be anything that would impair the way you operate in a “normal” society. I guess the question has to be, “what is normal?” For me, normal has been considered modern American Capitalist/Consumerist society

There is little compassion in normal society. There is little fairness, justice, or peace. And I soon realized that the goals I was striving for were not ones I truly wanted to attain. I don’t keep a good bankbook because I don’t care that much about money. I don’t organize because I prefer the journey to the destination. I don’t plan well for the future because I live in the present. My desires and my methods don’t blend with normal society.

This all brought me to the conclusion that the reason I haven’t been as successful in my endeavors as I had hoped to be was that my goals weren’t my own anymore, but the goals of whatever it was that I let influence me. I was blinded by what the general public and the advertisements that guide society told me to find important.

Perhaps I am simply an incorrigible idealist, but I do believe that I have been guided by a greater intelligence these last several years. I do believe that the trail of words I’ve put down, from The Rucksack Letters to the upcoming How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld and Get Your Groove On, have been inspired by an energy higher than I’ve often reached on my own.

When I started this journey ten years ago, I had three heroes in mind: Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jesus Christ. Jack died at the age of 49 as an alcoholic living with his mother. Hunter blew his head off a few years ago. Jesus split time in half and rose from the dead. At the end of my journey, I’ve really only got one hero left.

As I look around at the society around me, and where we have placed our importance, now more than ever, the message weaved through the red letters and parables is standing out as a course for new direction. It is not that I feel inclined to spread Christianity. Far from it. Yet I feel that the philosophy of faith and simplicity in the message of Christ, coupled with the heart for forgiveness is what we as a people need in order to recreate a civilization that will sustain us for generations to come. If we fail to listen to the wisdom of the ages due to our stubborn biases and longheld fears of doctrinal control, we may just miss out on the opportunity which is being handed to us.


Steve McAllister describes himself as a Renaissance Man. An author, filmmaker, songwriter, and perpetual artistic experimenter, he has recently re-released his second book The Rucksack Letters into paperback to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the journey. A journey of ink and soul, the book recounts his year and a half trek through 26 states, exploring the underbelly of America in order to better know himself. A pivotal first step for a generation in search of a new direction, The Rucksack Letters is available now.


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