GAINESVILLE, Fla. – One passes by them everyday in this city. Most people pass without a care. It’s rare when a person will stop and ask him/herself, “Who is that, and where is that person coming from?” Maybe that’s being a little bit nosy for some people, but aren’t we all part of a community?
They are the homeless, the wanderers of our world. They experience life in a way most of us cannot fathom. Again, a question comes to mind. What’s their story?
Two young men, Nick, 23, and Paul, 20, willingly took on lives of journeying with few possessions. From Ellijay, GA (close to the southern end of the Appalachian Trail), they have crossed multiple states searching for and finding a different kind of freedom. Their story is one of music and a message.
Together, Nick and Paul form a band called Turncoat Collective. The band has been through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
If you run into them, the first things you’ll notice are the large packs they are carrying. They look like hikers ready to tackle the next big trail, but this is Gainesville, Florida. There aren’t any mountains nearby. So, what are they carrying? Instruments. Nick and Paul play a variety of instruments wherever they go. It helps bring food and money.
Paul has questioned the integrity of humanity in the past, but his perspective changed after hitting the road. Paul says, “I actually found that there is hope out there. There’s really good people out there.”
Their message is, “Love everyone, absolutely. Even the ones that aren’t so kind.” Nick adds on, “The only way we can change the world is to spread positivity. And if we’re not positive in our mission, then we can’t really change anyone else’s perspective on anything else.”
They depend on the generosity of the world around them. Both Nick and Paul explain that a lot of it has to do with positive energy. They believe that in spreading kindness, kindness will return to them. This journey has lasted for almost a year now.
Wherever they go and whatever condition they are in, they are brave and confident. They made the choice to go on this journey. It’s a very simple life. Nick thinks so and says, “No obligations, just freedom.”
(Nick and Paul’s last names have been withheld on request.)
(Feature photo credit: Melissa Morales)