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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Peace Pilgrim down. Repeat, Peace Pilgrim down.

I'm going to ruin a good story for you, but indulge me. I'd had a lovely holiday, and tried to have a break from electronics (except ironically, my love for the Dakar meant I'd spent more time on twitter and facebook than ever before, getting updates from competitors and then joining in idle chatter along the way). I'd taken a note book to do some writing and it was still as pristine as when I'd packed it. I'd got it out and left it on the coffee table, as a nudge, but no avail.

I seemed to have lost all interest and inspiration.  I was beginning to wonder what I was doing and why was I even wasting my time. And then I heard this story.

We listened to podcasts on the way home, and one included This American Life. In this episode, there was the truly fascinating story of the Peace Pilgrim, not the original one, a latter day follower. The original Peace Pilgrim was a woman who walked in the name of peace for 28 years with nothing but the clothes on her back, relying on the kindness of strangers. Daryl Watson, a successful script writer with a crises of faith, decided to do the same. Download the fabulous & engrossing podcast (and please do, as Watson's telling really makes the story) or read on and I'll ruin a great story with my quick retelling for my own purposes. Three days after setting out, and sending a lovely email to all he knew explaining his actions, came the short missive "Peace Pilgrim down. Repeat, Peace Pilgrim down." The story is fascinating, highlighting among other things, the difference between an old white lady in the kinder society of the 50's and 60's and a young black man in the 21st century culture. The offers for help far between, the eye opening attitude of the priest and the deteriorating weather all lead to the final decision to give up the pilgrimage, having already given away all he owned and the contents of his bank account. He sees a billboard that says "it's OK to make mistakes as long as they're new ones."

Watson exudes a warmth that makes you root for him, and not want him to fail. He makes you understand where he was coming from, and why you would try such an exercise. You don't judge him at any point, it's just a great story.

How does this relate to me? I'm not doing anything nearly as lofty, but I am sitting in judgement on my shoulder, looking at stats and rejection letters (well, not many, as I've not sent anything off since October). Hearing those words, it's okay to make mistakes, as long as they're new ones, really comforted me. I want to be the kind of person who doesn't question why I do something, I just want to throw myself wholeheartedly into something because I want to, or feel I need to, for whatever reason that may be.  I need to remember I am trying something new for me, and so what if I fail? I can stop at any point, but it needs to be when I've exhausted the interest - my interest. And that's when you'll see the final post "Peace Pilgrim down. Repeat, Peace Pilgrim down."

Please note, more on this can be found on the podcast link above or on Daryl Watson's blog


  1. Holidays have a funny way of doing that to me....losing interest and inspiration in what I normally do. I am fighting it right now and really struggling to pull it together both motivational and spiritual.
    Thank you for this little gem.

    1. That makes me feel better...maybe it's normal? (the losing interest & motivation)

  2. I love that quote - "It's OK to make mistakes as long as they're new ones" - sort of reinforces that saying "If you always do what you always did, then you'll always get what you always got". Hopefully the mistakes I make this year will be lots of new ones !!!
    I think a break from electronics does us all the world of good. Have the best day !

    1. The weird thing with that quote (to me an Aerosmith quote but maybe someone more intelligent said it?) I always understood it to be a positive thing, that if you keep doing what you do, then you'll keep getting what you have. I was about 28 when it got put up as a negative thing, and I was really, really surprised. Then I realised it meant that I LIKED what I had. So there's the whole half full/half empty right there!

  3. I think its important to make mistakes as long as we learn from the consequences. They definitely present us with challenges and then as we move to resolve them, triumphs. We can learn so much from our mistakes and identify what it is we truly require/desire to move forward.
    Great post.

    Hello from #teamibot

    1. Your three lines there seem more together than all the contents of my head!!! require/desire.'ve got me pondering again.

  4. I love that line: "I can stop at any point, but it needs to be when I've exhausted the interest - my interest." Something I should remind myself of more often.

    Visiting from IBOT.

  5. Sounds like a fantastic story, I really love how some peole have that never ending drive with in them that leads them to reach their dreams. I am sure we all have it in us it is just a matter of unleashing it. That is what I need to do. Unleash my power within. On the bright side, at least you have something to put out there to get the rejection letters for, that is more than what some people have done.
    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely

  6. I love this post. So often we get absorbed with doing things for others approval, instead of following out heart and passion.
    And for what it's worth, I think holidays kinda sap the writing inspiration from you in a way, though I'm not sure why....