America is a patchwork quilt, and stories are its stitching. In a divided age, we need unifying stories more than ever. In order to find them, I practice the lost art of Shunpiking — knowing when to “shun” the turnpike and get onto the back roads where the good stories (and characters) are tucked away. The ones that remind us of our best selves. This shunpiking habit has landed me in some interesting places... • flying into hurricanes with the Air Force's weather reconnaissance squadron, the Hurricane Hunters • riding in Homeland Security go-fast boats chasing drug smugglers in the Caribbean • on a church lawn in Mississippi with black and white bikers who were blessing each other's bikes, hugging each other, and defying stereotypes Shunpiking also landed me in Arizona, where I met Jimmy Hatch. I'm passionate about telling his story because it can help (all of) us heal. Here it is, in a nutshell: After 150 counter-terror missions worldwide, Jimmy got shot trying to rescue Bergdahl. So did a dog. The dog died, which hurt Jimmy more than the AK-47 bullet that punched through his leg. He despaired, and eventually put a gun in his mouth. Fighting his way out of the darkness was as intense as his wars overseas. What saved him is beautiful, and it might help you, too.Read more Read less
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