Relying on the kindness of others, Leon Logothetis traveled the world to find authentic connections.
Logothetis, an author, philanthropist and world traveler, shared stories of his experiences around the world and his resulting inner transformation with students at Webster University on Monday, Sept. 14. This lecture kicked off Kindness Week at the university.
Formerly a London broker, he said he left a successful but empty life for an unknown future.
Longing for connection and meaning, he flew to America and decided to walk from Time Square to Los Angeles, Calif. Giving himself an allowance of $5 a day, this journey required him to rely on the kindness of the strangers he encountered.
Logothetis was at Webster to remind students of the need for human connections and relationships.
“Real connection does not happen on the phone,” Logothetis said. “Real connection happens when we go out into the world and interact with each other.”
The deep need for authentic connection drove him to leave behind a life of immense material success for life on the road. Despite significant wealth, stability and the outward trappings of a “good life,” his lifestyle in London had caused him to feel alienated from himself and those around him.
Although he “was in deep pain,” he said he began to resign himself to this empty existence.
“This is it,” Logothetis said. “I am going to have to accept that I am going to be unhappy for the rest of my life.”
This mantra, however, eventually lost its appeal. His efforts to suppress and bury his discontent eventually fell short, and he said his happiness was replaced by pain..
After watching The Motorcycle Diaries, a story of freedom and escape from social pressures, Logothetis decided to quit his job.
This project required that he open his life to people he would never encounter otherwise. He said his journey did not result in the change he so deeply desired. Rather, he returned to a desk job.
“Change is hard,” Logothetis said. “It often requires time, frustration, and repeated efforts.”
Logothetis tried once more to reshape his life, embarking on a journey around the globe. This time, he didn’t accept money, food or gas, only kindness from the strangers he encountered. The purpose of this journey was, “to interact with as many people as possible.” He met people from incredibly diverse backgrounds. These encounters lead him to spend the night with a homeless man on the streets of Pittsburgh and even perform in a Vietnamese Opera.
These interactions with people around the world revealed an interesting truth: no matter their status, race, gender, or age, all people desire the same thing. To see and be seen. To have their stories heard and appreciated by others.
The students in attendance for Leon’s talk received his story with gratitude and rapt interest. According to Webster senior Natalia de Rubira, his message was especially relevant in this particular phase of life.
“I really appreciated Leon’s ideas, especially as a college student feeling pressure to figure my life out,” Rubira said. “He reminded me that loving, healthy relationships with other people, and ultimately with myself, are the most valuable thing.”
Logothetis believes people need each other and happiness isn’t nearly as elusive as it seems.
“Kindness is the best medicine,” Logothetis said.