Walking to Japan has been launched! Twice, in fact, with two or three more on the calendar. Oops! Is it possible to launch more than once?
Both events (Victoria and Sechelt, BC) were well attended by friends, and even some complete strangers. Feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive and I really had fun. I don’t know why I should be surprised, but despite having some public speaking and solo singing experience, I think of myself as uncomfortable in the spotlight. But since reflecting on those evenings, I have realized that I’ve been influenced by three great storytellers in my life and must have learned something!
The first two were my parents. They met while acting in local theatre productions in Vancouver, and they were both teachers as well. So my bedtime stories, read from books or made up on the spot, were always brought to life with a colourful toolkit of accents and gestures.
Derek was a master storyteller. He wasn’t someone who would entertain a group of friends with anecdotes at the drop of a hat. That wasn’t his style at all. His stories were more like fables or parables and each had a spirit. Only when the time was right would he begin. He’d paint a vivid setting to capture your imagination, and then just enough detail to keep it flowing, pacing it just right, not too fast or slow. His intention was never to impress you but that the heart of the story would touch something in yours. There was always a lesson, but that would be for you to resonate with in your own way.
I hope that as I continue sharing Walking to Japan at readings, I’ll get better and better at bringing the book to life for an audience, and do both Derek and my parents proud.
For 25 years, Derek Youngs was a peace pilgrim, walking the world, often not knowing where he would sleep that night, or if he would eat. But he had faith in himself and the universe, and trusted in the goodness of the people he met. Although he faced challenges and struggles in his journeys, he was met more often with support and love.
As he continued his journey, his experiences and personal lessons became teaching stories, and after a few years of walking and sharing his tales, friends and strangers alike asked, “So are you going to write a book?” That question planted a seed, and he began to write. When my husband died in 2010, his memoir was unfinished. It has taken me over five years—sometimes working daily, sometimes not at all for months at a time—but finally, Walking to Japan is published! I know that Derek would be thrilled that it can now find its way into the hearts and minds of readers across the world!
With all the violence and injustice going on in the world, I am angered and saddened, yet I remember what Derek often said: “I shall not create an enemy. I choose not to live in fear.” This is not always easy.
Since Derek’s death in 2011, I have been coping with fear in my own small ways, particularly in the process of completing his memoir, Walking to Japan. In striving to do justice to his voice, to capture his loving presence and preserve his memories from the road, I’ve had fearful thoughts. What if I fail? What if nobody reads the book? What if they don’t care?” What after all the editing is done there’s still a spelling mistake—or two, or—? Or what if I die in an accident before I finish it?
To face my fears, I have needed to take to heart some of the lessons Derek shares in the book, and letting go is one of the biggest. I need to let go of ego, my need for control, my perfectionism. As paradoxical as it might seem, as much as I believe in this book with my heart and soul, I have to let go of my hopes for its popularity, and for Derek’s legacy. I must remember what Derek himself would tell me: “No matter what, it’s still a success, because we both did our best.”
It’s time now to let go of the book itself, and let it fly.
Want to know when a new post is published?
Send us your email address and you will automatically be notified.