What’s the Story about?
when I found my then-girlfriend’s note lying on our kitchen table, telling me that she had left me for another man, I couldn’t imagine how my life was about to transform. My needs were much more immediate: I wanted to do anything to get her back.
Three months later, I was on a ferry leaving Vancouver, Canada with my whole life packed into my backpack. I had just raised thousands of dollars on the Internet to fund a walk from Canada to Mexico as a creative, storytelling project. But there was one thing I didn’t tell the friends, family and strangers who supported me: the walk was my ex-girlfriend’s idea. I never wanted to do it. I had only committed to the idea because I thought that I could convince her to come back.
Suddenly, I was staring down eighteen hundred miles of walking down the West Coast—by myself. How did I feel? To put it politely: I was fucking terrified.
Every year, several hundred people walk the Pacific Crest Trail, made famous by Cheryl Strayed in Wild. Barely anyone does what I did: walk the Pacific coastline. For eighteen hundred miles, I walked on beaches, trails, and city streets. I spent uncountable hours walking on the highway shoulder—on the northbound side, facing into traffic because I thought it was safer.
Why did I continue even though I didn’t want to do it? The simplest way to say is that I felt something calling me forward.
My trip took a year: four seasons of transformation.
In the fall, I walked through logging country of Washington State, crossing the Columbia River to reach the dramatic headlands of coastal Oregon. In those early days, I spent my lonely miles trying to make sense of what had happened with my breakup. (See episodes in Season One.)
In the winter, I found myself entrenched in Northern California’s redwood forest, awed by the mammoth trees and dragged down by memories that I thought that I had long repressed. Both my parents visited individually, which provoked a major reckoning about my childhood—particularly about their difficult and traumatic divorce. (Season Two coming soon.)
At the dawn of spring, I crossed the Golden Gate bridge with wildflowers scattered in my massive beard. I felt on the crux of transformation. Having finally realized that my old approach to relationships was antiquated and patriarchal, I tried to reimagine who I was to prepare myself for my next partnership. From San Francisco, I walked past Santa Cruz and Monterey, reaching the world-famous stretch of Highway 1 through Big Sur just as the California poppies were in bloom. I flirted with very California ideas as I asked myself deep, confusing questions about adulthood—and the strange art of becoming a man. (Season Three coming soon.)
By the summer, I was in Southern California. I walked beneath palm trees past Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Orange County, heading toward the border—and what I thought would be the final test of my transformation. Sure enough, I was tested—but not in the way I expected. When things didn’t go how I wanted, I ended up in the Northern Nevada desert, having been gifted a ticket to the Burning Man festival. There, I had an experience of death and rebirth—a moment that brought me full circle to where I had begun. (Season Four coming soon.)
Four seasons of transformation. And one hell of a Story.
Why are you telling the Story in this format?
I always had a multimedia outcome in mind. During the walk, I collected an immense amount of content: tens of thousands of photographs, hours of audio recordings, and two dozen handwritten journals. I also maintained a grid-like photoblog that looked a lot like Instagram. (I left Vancouver one month before Instagram launched.) Over the last decade, I experimented with many different ways of assembling that content. Was this a podcast? A TV series? A photography exhibition? I decided on making Momentum into a book and refined the story into a manuscript, which I began submitting to agents and publishers.
But I learned a few things quite quickly: the traditional publishing process takes a loooooong time; publishers won’t even look at your memoir if it’s one word over 100K; and, right now, there isn’t much appetite for soul-searching books about straight white men. Eventually, I got fed up with hearing no’s and decided to take a different direction.
I have three main goals in publishing Momentum in this format:
- To fulfill a commitment I made nearly a decade ago. When I returned home from this trip, I knew I had a Story to tell—even though I wasn’t truly a storyteller yet. I’ve been stalled trying to get it perfect the first time. Putting it out in this way allows it to be a first step.
- To “show my work” to other folks who want a detailed resource about the process of transformation. Personally, I would have loved to have read something like this when I was at my lowest moments a decade ago. I’ve intentionally added as much detail as I could for readers who want to go deep into the story.
- To use this as a foundation for other platforms and possibilities. This Story may well be a book, a podcast, a streaming series, or something entirely different at some point in the future. I’m hoping it can act as a proof of concept for the folks who can make that happen. (If you want to collaborate, feel free to contact me here.)
I’d love to read this on my Kindle or listen to this as a a podcast. When will Momentum be available in other formats?
I’d love to broaden this Story across multiple formats too! Momentum has been a labor of love, and I’m doing the best I can with the time and resources I have available.
If you want to be updated when Momentum is available in a different format, feel free to sign up to be notified here. (Note: this is a different newsletter signup than the one on the homepage.)
Get the Quick Facts About Momentum
Who are you?
I’m Jordan Bower. I’m a self-employed consultant, facilitator, and coach. I spent the five years leading up to the pandemic delivering storytelling workshops for big organizational clients, while working on Momentum in my free time. When the pandemic started, I shifted my business to become a strategic transformation consultant—and used the time in lockdown to get Momentum finished. I live in Vancouver, BC with my wife.
Is this a true story?
Did you use people’s real names?
I changed many names in the story, including my ex-girlfriend’s. I’ve received consent from the folks whose names I didn’t change.
What route did you walk?
I stuck pretty close to the Pacific coastline. I walked about 1,800 miles on beaches, trails, sidewalks, and the highway shoulder through Washington, Oregon, and California. You can see my route here.
What gear did you carry?
I walked with about fifty pounds in a backpack—the weight fluctuated based on food and water. I carried camping gear, a tent, a sleeping bag, a cookstove, a foam mattress, a frisbee, and a harmonica; I called it the Hobo Starter Package. I had a digital SLR camera that I slung around my neck. I had an iPhone 3GS without a data plan; I carried the phone so I could use it when I found wifi, but didn’t want to get lost on social media in my tent. I walked through three pairs of shoes.
Where did you sleep?
I spent about half of the nights sleeping in my tent. The rest of the nights were divided between hostels, motels, and the homes of people I met along the way—as well as on the social networking site, Couchsurfing.
How did you pay for your expenses?
I raised $8,000 on Kickstarter in the summer of 2010. I raised a further $6,000 midway through the trip. After the trip, I ran a third crowdfunding campaign to get me started on this project. You can learn more about my experience—and meet the people who supported me here.
Do you speak on podcasts? And will you speak on mine?
I love speaking on podcasts about the themes in this story, including creativity, identity, masculinity, relationships, emotional literacy, storytelling, spirituality, and walking. And yes, I would probably love to speak on your podcast. You can get in touch with me here.
Do you work with organizations? Or give keynote speeches?
Yes. If you’re interested in bringing me into your work or your organization, you can learn more about my professional side here.