Awesome inspiration, Abishkar Palma
Penguin Random House
Wildboy is an autobiography in which the author writes about his 600 day journey all around New Zealand on foot. In each chapter of the book, he paints a very visual picture of his journey, be it Nelson to Karamea, or the final stretch of Whangarei to Cape Reinga. He describes his experiences of suffering hypothermia, almost dying, and living off the land. The book also shows that, no matter who you are and what upbringing or disability you have, you can accomplish anything.
Brando grew up loved, but became a bit of a vagabond. He struggled with his emotions and would often lose it with his parents, sometimes so badly that the police would need to be called. After leaving school, things went downhill for him; he was on the dole, drinking lots and using drugs. His journey started when he met a guy named Paul Harris, who showed him a movie about a guy in the Alaskan wilderness which really inspired Brando to do something like it, even walk around New Zealand.
Being on a benefit, Work and Income gave him the opportunity to go on a limited service volunteer’s course which was run by the New Zealand military. The course was designed to help unemployed people gain the confidence necessary for them to hold down a job, and was pretty much a boot camp, with things like kayaking to add a bit of flavour. He got a job as a sign boy but, remembering Paul Harris and his dream to walk around New Zealand, he stopped that and started to prepare. He gathered sponsors and bought equipment, as well as going to the gym and walking a marathon a day. He also decided that the trek would sponsor the Ronald McDonald House. His aim was to raise 10,000 dollars for them.
And on the 1st of February 2013, Brando set off on his journey, a journey that would change him for ever. During his journey, he really experienced the kindness of Kiwis, something that, before his journey, he hadn’t really experienced, to the extreme where he thought about taking his own life. His dad organised places for him to stay, the Lions club backed him, the nation followed him on Facebook and strangers welcomed him into their houses. Despite the fact that the majority of Kiwis were fully supportive of his adventure, a minority criticised him for living off the land.
This book shows his thankfulness to the people that helped him, his experience of not being able to stop walking/rafting, and how he lived off Aotearoa’s flora and fauna. He describes what it felt like to be at death’s door, poison himself, dealing with his problems but, above all, how he changed. How he conquered himself, drugs, and his problems with anger, problems that have not stopped him from being an amazing and inspirational Kiwi role model. Brando does all of us Kiwis a honour with his adventure.
In my opinion, it is a very inspiring book, and seeing how, in our society, people with “special needs” are pitied and are in a class of “sub-humans”, it shows just how wrong that is. Brando’s words of courage, perseverance and adventure should be everybody’s aim. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you don’t mind profanities. Brando, you are awesome.
Abishkar Palma is 15 years old and from Wellington.