Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence. Paperback – Apr 21 2009
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"It’s a remarkably insightful, poetic, and inspiring story, one that’s sure to make readers think more carefully about their own styles of living." Booklist
About the Author
John Francis, Ph.D., is the founder and director of PlanetWalk, a nonprofit environmental education organization. He travels around the world speaking on pilgrimage and change, and on Planetlines, an environmental studies curriculum based on the walking pilgrimage.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Realized as I wended through the chapters that I was reading a kind of Zen Koan due to factual accounts appearing other-worldly.
While I don't doubt the veracity of John Francis' stories, the way they are set down makes them seem dream-like due to unusual time sequencing/gaps and the nature of his personal relationships. People appear and disappear like phantoms. Money is rarely discussed, giving the impression he found a buried treasure on one of his early walks and when in need, simply went to the chest and filled his pockets with gold coins. When he needed a place to chill out from the road a house filled with friends would appear on the golden horizon. He appeared to never go hungry or suffer defeat.
I came to the conclusion that his personal triumphs were due to high intelligence and sensitivity to the people and things around him, and his good looks and charisma - a mixture of Jimi Hendrix and Jesus Christ, someone who attracts people through talent, positive energy, and a good-natured smile. The key to his success was his ability to connect with and attract all types of people, as his friends are so numerous and diverse that he always has someone to turn to when in need.
The book hides in the shadows the more sinister things in life, such as need of money/unemployment, friendships/relationships going sour, health problems, doubts about choices and his life's direction. Here and there a crumb is thrown, such as when he reveals in a short paragraph the need to have surgery on his feet - aha, the darker side of life coming into focus, but he does not explain how he paid for it (treasure chest of gold coins?), how long the recovery period was, how his feet became injured (the long walks I presume), and what his routine for recovery was. The narrative simply states having the surgery, followed by heading back to the road.
When comparing his life and journey to other characters in fiction and non-fiction, John Francis lives a happy life without the struggles of a normal human being due to his extraordinary gifts and talents. George Orwell, in Down and Out in Paris and London, has the task of finding a job so that he can eat and live in a bug infested dump in Paris. Van Gogh, spending the days painting and wandering like John Francis, is an introvert and lacks charisma, so fends for himself in most aspects of life, the only person consistently helping being his brother.
I came away being inspired by what is possible when a person decides to do something out of the ordinary (not ride in cars, not speaking). My guess is an average person who does not speak or ride in cars will soon be unemployed and homeless. Someone like John Francis, who is exceptionally gifted and can attract people while creating numerous and fast friendships, has a chance at positive results. I read his life like I would a famed genius - someone to look up to and learn from, but knowing what he accomplished is beyond the means of most people.
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