An Interview with Leon Logothetis of The Kindness Diaries
by Lacey Eibert Keigley
Last week we told you about TR’s Captain Randy Fisher’s desire to bring kindness to Travelers Rest through the aid of kindness cards and the guest appearance of Leon Logothetis, a man who traveled across the world on a motorcycle to spread kindness and to rely on the kindness of strangers to complete his journey.
After watching Logothetis’ show The Kindness Diaries on Netflix and then seeing the posters around town, we couldn’t help but attempt to contact Mr. Logothetis himself to find out more about his mission and his story before he rolls into town on May 1. (10 a.m. at City Hall in Travelers Rest.) Don’t forget to RSVP here to attend.
We received a quick and courteous response from his agent and within a day the phone was ringing and Leon was on the other end, just as polite and engaging and interesting via the phone line as he is on screen.
After I answered the phone, and worked to settle my giddiness down a touch, I told Leon how it felt as if my television set was speaking to me right through my phone. (It’s a shame the English accent doesn’t translate well in writing – it was a treat to hear him speak in his charming natural accent so different than our own lovely Southern drawls.)
To offer the closest experience we can to actually hearing Leon yourself, the interview will be shared as the question and answer exchange that it was, with my questions in bold and his answers below that.
You’ve written books and you’ve created television shows, which do you think is harder?
Well, they’re both pretty hard, but the editing process of television is pretty tedious. I prefer editing a book over that. So, I’d say television is harder.
My daughter wants to know – did you actually spend the night in the sidecar of Kindness One?
Unfortunately, I did. (A quiet bout of laughter.) But it’s all good.
Are you bringing your motorcycle Kindness One on this journey?
I’m not bringing it.
That’s a bummer.
Sorry about that.
Where is Kindness One right now?
In my garage.
What do your parents think of your adventures?
They’re proud. They think I’m a bit nutty.
Alright, imagine you have a day off. You’re not on the road. You’re not going anywhere. What are you going to do with your day?
(A pause.) It really really depends. (Laughter – of the British variety.) It depends on how tired I am, if I am in the mood for the beach or if I am in the mood to do nothing. It’s a tough question. My life is not 9 to 5 ish, I cannot give you an exact example, it all depends on the month.
What’s your go-to book?
The Drama of the Gifted Child.
What’s your favorite movie?
Into the Wild.
The one where the guy lives on a bus and eats the mushroom? That movie seemed so depressing to me – I feel like that’s the opposite of you.
Well, what is interesting is that it’s only depressing during the last scene. For the majority of the movie it’s about one man who finds himself. Unfortunately, through bad luck, he finds himself and then he dies.
Of all the meals you’ve tried on your adventures, which one has been your favorite?
My favorite meal was a pasta feast in Italy.
Here’s a Hobbit question for you. You are driving your motorcycle, and you’ve got no real supplies, what do you have in your pocket?
Uhhhh- that is a good question. What is in my pocket? (A long pause.) You know, nothing specific really. Nothing specific was in my pocket. Maybe next time I should have a satellite phone in my pocket.
On your website and in your books, you’ve talked about dark moments in your life that propelled you to make a change in how you were living. Can you tell me about that?
Well, on the outside, I pretty much had everything you’d want. On the inside, I pretty much had nothing you’d want. I was very depressed. Very disconnected. I felt very alone. I think it all came through my childhood, being bullied, feeling unseen, it just continued right into my adulthood. I realized that the pain was getting too great to live behind a mask that everything was okay. And the mask began to crumble and then everything crumbled and I was pushed by the pain to do something differently and I realized that I needed to change things.
Have you ever had a chance to go back to the people or the situations that caused that pain and to redeem some of those parts of your story, to feel like you could forgive or move beyond what had happened?
Oh, definitely. I am a firm believer that you have to resolve your past in order to move on, so – yes, I feel as if I have redeemed a lot of it.
You’ve met such interesting and lovely people on your adventures. Have you formed relationships with any of them past the show? Do you ever see or hear from some of them?
Yeah, I do. There’s Willy, the Scotsman. Tony – the homeless man. The rickshaw driver in India. I talk to Dwight from time to time.
What do you want to do next? Is there another adventure on the horizon?
Driving around the world in an electric car called Kindness Two.
That sounds fun. When does that happen?
We start production at the end of summer.
On the road, in the TV series, you were meeting so many people and asking them to let you stay the night or to help you with food. You get plenty of people who say no to your request for lodging or help, out of fear or cautiousness or whatever. Mostly they have been polite in their refusal of offering help, but what about when you meet straight up rude people? How do you feel about that?
First of all, I put myself in that situation, so if they say no, the only person I have to blame is myself. But the reality is that even though I know very clearly that I’m to blame, it is hurtful. It is hurtful specifically if it keeps on going on for hours and hours and hours. It’s never easy to be rejected. So when I have a mini flip out in my brain, I always have to remind myself that I did this to myself and there is no reason why anyone would want me to stay with them when they don’t even know me and I just keep on going.
Personally, what is your motivation? Of course, there’s kindness, but is there a bigger motivation to these projects you continue to undertake? When you finish a project and you decide you want to do it again – why is that?
I like adventures. I like connecting with people. I like giving back. I like being seen, myself. All these things I can get by going on theses journeys.
How does this end? What’s the goal?
That’s a good question. (I think I can hear him smiling.) I guess the end goal, actually, is to find a wife and have some kids. To spread the love I have learned and experiences from my life on the road with them. To continue touching people’s lives with my work.
That’s an interesting idea to bring up, because, by the nature of what you do, you are transient. That makes relationships difficult – right? How do you think you will balance that?
(More laughter.) Well, she will have to be someone who will believe what I believe. She will have to mirror me, and I will have to mirror her. If someone I meet doesn’t like to travel, we’ll have a serious problem. (And the question ends the way it began, with laughter).
I love the quote you feature on your website that says “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” How do you think that we can find practical ways to redeem the time in our own lives and to teach our kids to do the same?
By redeem do you mean getting in your car and going out and having adventures?
No. I mean, being where we are and spreading kindness where we literally are – redeem where we are. Our lives all look fantastically different in different seasons and our lives can often be dictated by a formal structure and more routine, so how can we live in the daily perspective that time is fleeting?
I would say, many of us commit to our families, commit to our jobs, which is understandable, but very few of us commit to ourselves – how to be kind and compassionate to ourselves. If you can do a practical thing, for example, it’s cliche, but if you can do a truly kind thing once a day for thirty days and write it down in a journal, well, I bet – after thirty days – if you do that, your life will be a little better because you’ve shown some love and some compassion to someone else. Many of us forget to do that. That’s a very practical thing – once a day for thirty days, do a kind thing, whatever it may be – giving food to someone or giving a compliment or giving a hug when someone is feeling low – and then just journal it – how it made you feel. I believe, in thirty days, you will feel differently about yourself and about life.
What if someone were to say to you, “Well, it’s easy to be generous and nice when you have resources and wealth, what about if you do not have that option? What then?”
You don’t have to have money to be kind. So many of the kindest people I’ve met, have had nothing. Maybe you need money to get on a motorbike and go around the world, but you do not need money to come from your heart. And that’s really the message of the show.
Thank you Leon, for answering all the questions and for including our town of TR in your tour, nestled between your big city stops along your route. We look forward to welcoming you to Travelers Rest in May.