^FREE E-PUB ⇫ Neon Pilgrim ↽ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

There is a trope of travel books, where the author is doing something perceived as adventurous, that in the beginning the author must demonstrate how ill prepared for their adventure they are I think this is so the reader who will never do anything so adventurous will identify with their narrator Usually I think it s a bit of bullshit, but here it s clear that Lisa really was quite ill prepared And yet she managed to walk the route of 88 temples in Shikoku tranforming herself physically and mentally as she went She tells her story compellingly and humourously One way in which she was exceptionally prepared is that she spoke some Japanese Having travelled in Japan myself I can see how huge a difference this would make Obviously speaking the local language helps anywhere but I think Japanese culture can be especially hard to penetrate as an outsider, presumably a little bit less so if you have some language. Gifts are complicated things The simple premise of giving someone something they need, love, or want is what actually complicates the definition of a gift Gifts, before anything else, function like a contract that requires the exchange of goods and or services until someone dies, or decides to break off the relationship with the gift giver There is always payback in the form of another gift Now whilst that might seem like the Ebeneezer Scrooge definition of gift giving, there is some harsh veracity behind it.When we are given gifts we are usually extremely happy that the person thought to give us something, whatever the occasion Although, sometimes you get a pair of socks or another scented candle that you absolutely do not want or need, so you add it to that dark box in the cupboard with all of your other socks and candles Either way, the rule is Receive a gift, return at a later with another gift Simple reciprocity.There seems to be an anxiety around gifts The constant need to make sure that we return the favour the constant need to make sure that our gifts are of the same monetary value as the gifts we receive and the constant need to make sure that our gifts are well thought out and ALWAYS the perfect gift for that person When we cannot return the favour and give someone a gift there is a real feeling of failure, shame, stress, and worry If we do not repay a gift, we are horrible people However, what if the way we think about gift giving is all wrong What if we just gave gifts and stopped at that What if our contemporary understanding of gifts meant that we did not need to reciprocate every single time Lisa Dempster s travel memoir is about her 1,200km trip on the Henro Michi, a Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan that visits 88 Buddhist temples and traverses mountains, highways, coastlines, and everything in between Dempster says that she took the journey after feeling stuck in her life back in Australia She was depressed, anxious, overweight, unhappy, and trapped in a life that she had made for herself and yet did not know how she got there She chose Japan because she went on exchange there when she was in high school, which was also the same time she first learned about the Henro Michi Almost on a whim, she decides she needs to do the pilgrimage in the hopes that she can discover who she is and to heal her head and heart.There are many ways to do the Henro Michi and Dempster decides to do rough She sleeps in parks and on the side of mountain trails She occasionally sleeps in BnBs and the odd cheap hotel when she needs a bath and a soft bed Henros, or pilgrims, wear a white vest so they can be differentiated from non pilgrims and also rather morbidly if they die on the trail they can be buried where they fall Along the way Dempster, like other henros, receives settai, or gifts The gifts are usually food, drinks, money, lucky charms, a night in a hotel, a foot massage, or even a lift to a nearby BnB The only thing the henro is supposed to do in return for the settai is bestow the gift giver with a name slip a piece of paper or ribbon the times you do the Henro Michi, the colour and quality of your name slip changes that has your name on it It is supposed to be bring luck and good karma and is a way of thanking the person for giving you a gift Throughout Dempster s journey, she struggles with the awkwardness of receiving gifts that she cannot repay with the same value When people let her stay in their BnBs for free, or give her food and drink for her journey, she can only give them a small white piece of paper with her name on it Hardly an equivalent gift in our Western understanding of gift giving and receiving Yet, that is all that is required.The humility of receiving gifts that we cannot repay is a beautiful thing I also think it forces us to focus on the act of giving for the simple sake of giving Whilst one could argue that the giver receives good luck and karma for giving the gift so nothing is purely altruistic , however, karma, luck, good vibes, or however you want to call it cannot be quantified in the way that money and objects can be It is a spiritual currency for believers and non believers alike that nourishes who we are as people.I ve been poor for a long time in my life My family grew up in government housing and my parents didn t have jobs for health reasons so our income was government handouts for lack of a better way to put it I did not get to go on all the school excursions or camps because my parents could not afford it I wore second hand clothes, my school uniforms came from the donation bin at the school When my high school changed its uniform to a new design my parents panicked because the uniforms were all new, no second hand, and they did not know how they could afford a new one for me I hated receiving help from people growing up Especially when it came to gifts or acts of kindness I could never repay It felt embarrassing I told myself, it was a matter of pride Yet, the people who gave me things did not always want me to give them something back The only thing they wanted in return was to see me succeed They wanted to see me grow and change and be the person I had always hoped to be, but could not get their without help.The act of settai is a bit like the concept of paying it forward You do not need to return the gift to the same person, but rather give a gift to the next person you see in need Give and receive gifts because we cannot do it all alone Give gifts because it can make your heart lighter and give gifts to help people Give small gifts and big gifts, and gifts that cost nothing and gifts that cost a lot Receive gifts of every shape and size and be grateful for them, but not trapped and beholden to the idea that the gift must be reciprocated to the person who gave you the gift in the first place.There is no easy way to solve our anxieties around gifts, but I think that viewing them as something than a contract enriches the experience of giving and receiving gifts It keeps us humble and asks us to look at the motivations behind why we give things to other people Reading books and the sharing of knowledge can sometimes be the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others So how are you going to change the story Have you read Lisa Dempster s memoir about her 1,200km journey What do you think about gift giving and receiving As always, share the reading love. This was an intriguing travelogue about the famed Shikoku pilgrimage but I felt it was a little superficial A bit of the personal would have engaged me further That s not to take anything from Dempster s effort in completing the walk in the Japanese summer, urgh , which was, in a word, phenomenal. As a foreigner who has lived in Japan for almost 6 years, I don t think I have ever read another book that better described how caring, kind, gracious and infuriating Japanese people and the culture can be What a great read, makes me want to go walk the pilgrimage. Not exciting but interesting. i ve read this book three or four times now i find lisa dempster s story of her improbable two month walking pilgrimage around japan to be compelling, inspiring and really satisfying to read continuing despite persistent depression, being physically unfit, veganism in a fish centric food culture, not much money, intense weather, a bit of a language barrier, and not being religious, this journey is not just a tenacious one, but humble, honest and human. More like 3 a half stars.Neon Pilgrim is a travelogue and a memoir in one Wikipedia defines a memoir as a story from a life , such as touchstone events and turning points from the author s life.This is what Dempster has presented us with a moment from her life that proved to be a major turning point for her It also happens to be a very engaging, easy to read account of her time walking the 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan.We don t learn a lot about Dempster s back story We know she is twenty something with some issues depression, no job, over weight and living back at home Back in her school days, she completed a year long exchange program with a school in Shikoku She became aware of the 88 Temple pilgrimage at this time In her time of need a decade later, it came back to her as a way of solving all her present day problems.We don t really understand how Dempster got to this point in her life But I guess we don t really need to know The point for us, as well as Dempster, is the walk, the pilgrimage, the experience.It was obviously a hard slog for Dempster a real physical and mental challenge Walking in the middle of the Japanese summer may not have been the wisest decision she ever made, but sometimes when you need to make a major change, you just need to get started, obstacles be damned Part of the tradition of the henro michi is gift giving offerings or settai By giving drinks, food, shelter, lifts or clothes to the pilgrims, settai offerers are honouring the monk Kobo Daishi as well as those who walk in his footsteps It can be seen as their way of participating in the pilgrimage themselves and acknowledging the importance of the pilgrimage in general.For Dempster, the settai giving, and on her behalf, the accepting, played a significant role in her experience The help was often timely and much needed It took her quite a while to accept the generosity generously, but as with most things associated with the pilgrimage, there was a ritual to smooth the way.It s possible to be a part of the 88 Temple pilgrimage in various ways You can be a henro, pilgrim who walks the entire route with your backpack and sleeping gear on your back, sleeping wild or in the various small shelters along the way Some people cycle the route, or drive themselves around or join in a bus group Some henro s walk the distance but stay in B7B s or hotels Some people do the walk in stages throughout a lifetime, while some have walked it hundreds of times already A few do it in reverse.Dempster went the whole hog, sleeping out or in tsuyado, the free shelters scattered along the route It was considered unusual for a foreigner to do so, which made her an object of much fascination and discussion along the way Obviously this was not the easy choice either Wild animals, no toilets or showers and creepy crawlies in the middle of the night where just some of the hazards Dempster was constantly facing her fears and challenging her self doubts.Full review here My thoughts on this book I really enjoyed this travelogue The writing is meditative and easy to follow, and she is being honest and personal in her reflections.I learned a lot from these pages You get a great impression of the places she was hiking and the people she met during her pilgrimage They were all such a kind and heart warming people She also shares a lot of the insights and views on life she gained throughout her tough and exhausting journey It was interesting to witness the transformation she went trough From starting out depressed, overweight and in a really bad mental state to growing stronger and self confident by putting one foot in front of the other, step by step through the mountains and paths of the Henro Michi My biggest take away from the book is that you have to pick yourself up You have to listen to your own needs, and be brave enough to receive help when you cannot help yourself We are usually stronger than we think, but often we are limited by our own thoughts and self doubt. I started this book as I wanted something inspirational, and this one sure didn t disappoint Author starts out the story overweight depressed and generally rather a mess ends up quite an international success for her achievement.It helped that she speaks very good Japanese, having been an exchange student on Shikoku earlier On the other hand, she s vegan, which presents quite a challenge in such a fish based culinary landscape I wouldn t say, however, that it s a book about Japanese culture as such directly Her encounters are with folks along the Route as a pilgrim, rather than a genuine tourist or expat It s her story of finding herself primarily.I suppose if I had to find one negative aspect to the story, it s that she certainly seems to vomit quite a bit So much so that I was near certain she was pregnant Still, for a novice hiker, and writer, she she manages proves the adage You don t know until you try Audio narration came through well, so a good decision not to hire an outside narrator. ^FREE E-PUB ☛ Neon Pilgrim ☠ Seriously Unfit Unmotivated, Lisa Dempster Is An Unlikely Candidate For A Gruelling Outdoor Adventure When Her Life Needs A Shake Up, She Decides The Only Thing For It Is To Hike The Henro Michi, A Kilometre Buddhist Pilgrimage Through The Mountains Of Japan Lisa S Journey From Overweight Dole Bludger To Intrepid Explorer Is A Witty Fascinating Insight Into Japan S Famed Pilgrimage