I am so touched by friends who are still asking me how “Walking to Japan” is doing. I usually tell them it’s going well, but honestly, over the past year I have not looked at numbers at all. At every event, it’s rare that someone will go home empty-handed, and folks have written me to tell me how the book has inspired them, entertained them, enlightened them. I am truly humbled and honoured by the outpouring of gratitude and good feelings that have come my way. But I’ve had to look at numbers recently, when filing my taxes. I could very easily now say “humiliated” instead of “humbled”. Numbers are still in the hundreds, and I’m still in debt. But does this really matter? No.
I’ve never been all that keen on measuring myself against anyone else’s standards. Still, with the barrage of “successful” creative ventures that abound on the Internet (if you measure success by “like”s), I’m disheartened, especially when some of these things seem so bereft of meaningful content. I must admit I can be judgmental sometimes. I also must admit I have been disappointed when friends’ words of support and congratulations don’t translate into interest in the book. When it comes to supporting my own friends, I always try and purchase a buddy’s CD even when it’s “not my style of music”, or go to their opening season baseball game when I’m not the least interested in sports. Derek was always so gracious with me this way. He didn’t know a thing about choral music, and it wasn’t his favourite, but he came to my concerts because he wanted to know me better.
Taking a deeper look at my friends’ passions and creative efforts has broadened my understanding of them, and enriched my own life. My best friend Una, who died two years ago, was a prolific painter. I didn’t like everything she did. But I could always say something positive, and true, about her creative process. Another friend is an academic writer. I proceeeded as far as I could in his book until it seemed I was reading the dictionary more. But I was so impressed at what he had created. And, delving into his treatise gave me so much more insight into his life, his character, his values. However, I also love my friend far and beyond anything in the material realm, and this includes his book, as brilliant as it is.
A friend recently told me she hadn’t bought my book because:
A) she never reads memoirs, and B) she was afraid of what she would say to me if she didn’t like it. But she took a chance. And hugged me the other day, with tears in her eyes, to thank me. Thank you, Katharina. And thanks to all my friends, whether you’ve read the book or not. I understand that there are reasons. And I trust that you love and support me beyond anything I have done or said or created.