He calls himself the Naturopathic Pilgrim. Node Smith, a student in the naturopathic medicine program, is riding his bicycle from near the Canadian border in Washington state to Austin, Texas. The year-long journey will take him down the entire West Coast, up through Arizona, Utah and Colorado to Montana. Then he will head east through South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa before veering south into Missouri, Mississippi and Texas.
In some ways the bicycle journey will be the easy part, as Smith is challenging himself to disconnect entirely from the digital world. No cell phone, no laptop, no GPS, no TV. Though he calls it “digital detoxification,” he said the trip is not so much about an antagonism towards modern technology as it is an extended experiment in doing without, while seeking a deeper connection with nature.
The trip is also deeply spiritual, and Smith hopes the time away from the usual cacophony of life will also help him better connect with his higher power. Though disconnecting himself, Smith intends to keep in touch via letters mailed to fellow students at NCNM, who will post updates on a blog.
Just before departure, Smith posted these musings: “What would it be like if I didn’t have to answer any emails? What if for a certain period of time I didn’t have to hear my text alert, my ringtone, or an alarm waking me up 30 minutes early so I could check my email before rushing off to class? What changes would occur inside if I could spend some uninterrupted time in the outdoors, looking up into the sky, feeling the cool breeze on my face, and smelling the sea air in the early morning, smiling? What would it be like to reset the rhythm of my life to be more in alignment with my belief system, my values, and my idea of health? These are things I want to give away in the name of health.”