Hey there friends,
So this is going to be the last sneak peek into the book before it release—pre-order August 27th and a full release on September 24th (Check back here for those deets). This book as been almost a two year journey and I'm so thankful you've spent some of it with me. This next little tidbit is something I've probably shared with only five people and not something I'm too comfortable talking about, but it's time. Thanks in advance for not passing judgement ;)
A Walk through the (Japanese) Garden of Eden
I looked over at the alarm clock and it was 7 a.m. and time to get ready for my last day in the Vancouver area.
After a quick shower and a light breakfast of little sausages and cheese, I headed out to the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden located on the edge of the University of British Columbia’s campus. It described itself as “a place of reflection, where each step reveals a new harmony, the garden is designed to suggest a span of time—a day, a week, or a lifetime—with a beginning, choice of paths, and ending.”
A revelation of new harmony was exactly what I needed. I went to the Pacific Northwest to live deliberately and to front only the essential facts of life. But so far my trip had been little more than self-indulgent. I had no more clarity about my life or its purpose and I was losing an increasing amount of sleep due to my father’s incessant enigmatic appearances, which I still couldn’t decipher.
Subsequent to my arrival on campus, I inched along a few winding roads that led me to a secluded little back corner of the school’s grounds. It was here that walls of a garden were erect, separating the undisturbed serenity within its core from the chaos of the rest of the world. A small stone path led to a large and stoic wooden gate that warmly invited me to pass through its threshold and into what looked like the Japanese Garden of Eden.
One large circular footpath, lined with neatly pruned cherry trees and red cedars, enclosed a number of smaller paths and bridges made of logs and planks that crossed over a pond at the center of the garden. At several junctions along the inner footpaths were old stone lanterns sprinkled throughout. A solitary wooden pavilion sat near the garden’s center. At any moment I expected to see a Japanese Adam and Eve emerge from the brush wearing nothing but maple leaves.
I wandered aimlessly through the garden absorbing the peacefulness of everything through my fingers: the hairy moss on the ground, the small waterfalls making perfect little ripples into the water, large rocks resting along the lake, and the exterior of a dignified and ancient-looking teahouse. The tranquil energy flowing through me, given from the rocks and trees, brought something inside me to life—something almost supernatural. This force felt almost prescient and told me that inside this garden was the answer to the many lingering questions beleaguering my fragile mind.
With urgency, I circled around the outer edge of the garden, in the heated pursuit of anything—a clue, a hint, an insight—but with no such luck. I circled around a second time and still nothing. The vigor of my inner spark began to ferment into heavy fatigue and I paused my search.
I approached a seven-story Pagoda, a solitary and tired piece of stone that looked as if he needed a friend to sit at its feet and keep him company for a bit. I sat cross-legged at his base facing the pond, resting my head against his chiseled torso. Within moments, my eyelids became heavy and fought to resist gravity’s pull but finally succumbed to the laws of physics. I fell into a deep sleep and there I was welcomed by the Adonis Viking, Ghost Dad.
We stood on opposite sides of the same ravine in the same manner we had in previous encounters. He was crying yet again, but enraged like the man I knew from my childhood.
His tears flowed down into the gorge and caused the river to rise above my ankles.
“Why are you doing this to me?” I asked. I could finally speak to this infamous and unwelcome specter. He wouldn’t answer and the water rose to my knees. “You’re ruining my life. Leave me alone!” He didn’t respond, and the river rose to my waist. “What do you want? What do you want from me!?” And with outstretched arms and open palms side by side he conjured up more skywriting in black capital letters. Above his right hand was the word “TELL” and above his left hand were the words “MY STORY.”
“What are you talking about? I can’t. I wouldn’t know how.”
“Then write it down,” he said as the river rose to my chest.
“How am I supposed to do that? I don’t understand what you want,” I answered, now in tears myself.
“Figure it out. Tell the world.” And with that he floated away until he melted into the sun. The river had now risen past the level of my head and engulfed my entire body. I awoke sweating and lying face up on the ground.
A Hostage Crisis
Pulling myself up to a sitting position, I braced myself for support against my new friend, the seven-story stone Pagoda.
Was this the clue I was looking for? Was this really my father or a figment of my imagination? Wiping the sweat from my brow, I wondered what he could possibly want me to say about him. Everything I knew about him involved yelling, religion, disappointment, and suicide—not exactly a compelling tale or strong legacy to leave behind.
A trip to Vancouver didn’t rid me of Ghost Dad but showed me that he would continue to hold my dreams hostage until I did exactly what he wanted. There would be no negotiating with my nighttime terrorist.