Monday, November 15, 2010
In the good ol' days of working in a cafe-bookstore, I found a book called "Planet Walker" by a guy named John Francis. It is his journal from the years he spent not speaking and not riding in motorized vehicles. Though it wasn't the most eloquently written book, the content was so inspiring that I would consider it one of the best non-fiction stories I've read.
In the 70's when he was in his mid-late twenties, he witnessed an oil spill in northern California that disturbed him so much he gave up riding in motorized vehicles of any sort. He would walk long distances (between southern Oregon and northern California) and would refuse any person who tried to give him a lift. The arguments that he had with people eventually led to a full day of silence, which turned out to last 17 years. His journey all those years of silence is remarkable; he achieved a master's degree in environmental science, he walked across the United States, and sailed to Venezuela and walked through South America, to name a few. He began speaking again on Earth day 17 years later and on the opposite coast, and rode in his first motorized vehicle after 22 years of only using his two feet.
His book was a real inspiration for me, and it turned out a few months later I ended up taking my own vow of silence, though I only lasted 8 days. Thinking about how good I felt being quiet and how much more I connected with people, mostly whilst working in the cafe, I could only imagine how powerful 17 years of silence must have been for him. He continues to be a big inspiration for me. Thank you John Francis.