Day 321 - Derek

Day 321 - Derek (3rd person I approached)
November 17, 2014 - The second person I approached today said he didn’t want to chat. I said thank you to him, and turned to walk away.

He added ‘The reason I’m not able to chat with you is because of my work. I’m not permitted to make public statements. But your project sounds great, I’d be happy to talk with you if it wasn’t for my job. I hope you have a good day.’ It was a kind and thoughtful gesture. It also made me want to talk with him all the more.


Derek was doing some work on his computer, and told me he only had a few minutes before having to go move his car. He was happy to chat with me for the time he had available. Born in Saanich, Victoria (on Vancouver Island, British Columbia), Derek is the youngest of three children.

“I have two older sisters. One is seven years older and the other is four years older. They tried to gang up on me when we were kids. But it didn’t work. They took to snitching on me instead. They'd run to my parents if I did anything they thought was wrong,” he said smiling and shrugging his shoulders. When he was calculating how many years were between himself and his oldest sister, he referenced the Chinese astrological calendar.

“Let’s see.” he said.

“1976 was the Year of the Dragon, so that means…” I waited to ask.


“I didn’t like school. Any of it. I preferred to learn hands-on, by doing things. I felt like nobody understood me. The teachers would talk about subjects, like in math, and if you didn’t grasp it, you were marked as stupid. They never stopped to consider if you were bored, or had a different way of learning. I had difficulty sitting still and being talked to. I needed stimulation, my mind had to keep busy, active and be engaged,” he said. Derek played sports throughout school.

“I was always active. I played hockey mainly. I played some baseball and soccer too, but hockey was the main sport for me.” He left school in Grade ten.

“I did some upgrading later on and completed Grade eleven, but that’s it,” he told me.


Fitness was important to Derek in his teens.

“I really got into martial arts. I did it in my youth to be able to fight. By that I mean, that if I was in a fight, I wanted to be able to win. I did it to learn how to protect myself,” he said. After leaving school, Derek said that he made some choices that led him down a path, he later realized he didn’t want to go down.

“I did some bad things. I guess it also depends what you define as bad. I mean, if I go out and pick some random person out of a crowd and cause that person an injury, that’s not good. I never did that kind of thing. But I made some poor choices.” He left home at eighteen and spent some time moving across the country.

“I lived in Victoria for a little while before moving to Vancouver. I went to Montreal for a while, and Toronto and Calgary. I had been working mostly in construction,” he said. Derek moved back to Vancouver and then eventually returned to Victoria.


His mother was living in Ladysmith, a small town on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

“I went to live with my mother there. It was a good place to disconnect and spend time figuring out what I wanted to do,” he said.

“You hear stories about people who have a spiritual awakening and that they find a different way to look at life. Well, that happened to me. I spent a lot of time looking at what I was doing in my life. Not just my work or activities. I was looking at my emotional reactions to things. The way I looked at people,” he said. He had been reading books about astrology.

"I didn't believe that everything could be so finite. We are all so different and infinite, there's no way we could all fit into these categories. I'd read my horoscope and then do what I could to prove it wrong," he said. Derek listed off a number of books and authors that he had been studying, including Bruce Lee, Deepak Chopra and Miyamoto Musashi’s ‘The Five Rings’. “I liked Deepak Chopra, and I know he’s popular, it seemed a little general to me. I was going into a deeper exploration.” His author of choice is Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi and guru. 


“I spent four years living in Ladysmith with my mother. It really helped me to get my life going in the direction that I want it to go. I’m back living here in Vancouver now, and working as a personal trainer. I’m happy with the way things have turned out.” Derek’s phone started to vibrate across the table.

“That’s my timer. I have to go move my car. I wish I had more time to talk with you. I feel like that’s an abbreviated version of my story. Perhaps another time.” #notastranger