To Reset Your Life As A Pop Star, Try Walking Across America

Surrounded by death and dreading the idea of promoting an album, Mike Posner decided to walk across the United States. The experience ended up changing the way he sees his country and himself.
Mike Posner, photographed on September 14, 2018 in New York City. The pop artist spent much of 2019 walking across the Unites States, from New Jersey to California. Source: Rob Kim

When Mike Posner asked the 911 dispatcher on the other end of the line if he was going to die, she did not sugarcoat her uncertainty: "All she said," Posner remembers, "was 'I don't know.' "

Posner posed the question in early August 2019 on a hot, bright day on the eastern side of Colorado, where the gentle plains of the Midwest give way to distant glimpses of the Rockies' front range. A pop singer and rapper with a few Top 40 hits and a Grammy nomination to his name, Posner was on sabbatical, seven months removed from the release of a tormented third album he had barely bothered to promote. He was about 1,800 miles into a roughly 2,800-mile, 13-state walk across the United States. Posner had started in Asbury Park, New Jersey — which he knew via one of his earliest influences, Bruce Springsteen — with the goal of reaching Venice Beach, California, where he'd first considered the ambition five years earlier after happening to hear a stranger mention the endeavor. The task simply struck him as a worthy adventure, a whimsical idea that lingered on his wishlist.

The trek had been, at times, hell. Posner had walked until he felt his feet were forever broken, their sides almost certainly beset by stress fractures he'd someday have to fix, he assumed. His Solomon running shoes fostered an agonizing symphony of blisters, while the top of his glutes often quivered and ached. Kansas had been an inversion of Dorothy's nightmare — seemingly infinite and too real, with oppressive July heat and monotonous scenery. But he of his own music, accompanied by voicemails from the likes of Diddy, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, and Posner's mom, Roberta. He'd made the tape in advance, personal affirmations gathered to propel him through the toughest times. For eight states, Posner had heeded the title's advice: .

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