Friday, January 4, 2013

Peace Pilgrim Out

If you'd told me back in 2009 that I'd be writing an update for this blog in 2013, I’d have said you were crazy.

Then again, if you'd told me back in 2006 that I'd try to walk across the country on foot in 2009, I'd have said you were crazy.

Shows what I know.

In any case, here I am, writing an update on a blog I'm surprised I didn’t take down years ago.  I’d like to think that I kept it around for sentimental reasons, but it probably has more to do with being too lazy to delete it.  Either way, I'm glad it's still here, because I have one last thing to write about.

My name is Daryl Watson.  Before I became a peace pilgrim, I was a playwright and a TV writer. Nowadays, I live in Los Angeles, and I'm back to writing again.

For the longest time, I just wanted to put the whole pilgrimage behind me and get on with my life.  I was embarrassed by my decision to even do it, to say nothing of the colossal failure it turned out to be.  The problem was that as I re-connected with old contacts – friends and professionals – the whole walking-across-the-country thing would inevitably come up.  I guess that’s my fault, since I did send out a mass email to just about every human being that I knew, telling them that I was doing a peace walk.  Plus, many of them hadn't heard from me since.

Early last month, I got an email from Elna Baker, an old friend of mine from my days at NYU.  Elna is a hilarious and talented writer who has been featured on This American Life. She remembered getting that mass email I sent and thought the story of my pilgrimage might be right for one of TAL's upcoming episodes.

I told her my story over the phone, she pitched it to the show producers, and a week later - December 21, 2012 – Elna was interviewing me in a recording studio at the Las Vegas NPR affiliate station.

So much for putting this whole thing behind me.

About a month before this interview went down, I was hanging out with a friend of mine.  We were at a bar, it was late, and we had gotten pretty drunk and pretty honest with each other.  I confessed to her that I was still struggling to find my way. 

“You know what I want you to do?" my friend said.  "I want you to go out...and do stuff.  And then I want you to tell me about it.”

It sounded good to me then, and it still does.

Many thanks to Elna and everyone at This American Life for getting my story out there. 

If you want to listen to my interview, it will be airing this weekend.  Check here to find the time that your local NPR station will be playing it.  The episode should also be available in the This American Life archive on Sunday.

Here’s what I’m up to nowadays:

* I’m working on a play called Unbound, which is very loosely based on my experience living down at Occupy Wall Street in 2011. 

* I'm blogging about my experiments with online dating.

*I have a website (, but it’s still under construction. But my email is up and running, so if you want to contact me, you can do so at

*You can also follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

That’s all I got.  For now.  I’ll let you know when the next walk will be.  Until then…

Peace Pilgrim out. 


  1. Just heard your story on NPR Chicago - thanks for sharing! Just one thing; keep the Faith. Given my story, Faith is what keeps me going. Much success on your journey!
    John TenBrink

  2. I am sitting here at work (on a saturday. yea corp america/sarcasm) and heard your story.
    Whoa dude is my first thought. but once that wore off I do understand that when your soul or your spirit is at unrest and you feel the need to MOVE that you make a move and hope that quells that deep inside you throwing your current reality in the backseat while you drive full steam ahead to what. You so are NOT alone and i am glad you made it thru. I am currently trying to find a new church home bc my spirit is telling me to move. I would love to see your plays as it sounds like thats your happy button. If it makes you happy push that button often man and stay happy or atleast content for that day you dont do anything crazy!

    1. Yeah, after all was said and done, I realized that writing/storytelling was the mission statement that I was looking for. Took me a while to get there, but I got there. Good luck in your search for a spiritual community, and thanks for your words of encouragement.

  3. Keep on walking the path, you seem to be an amazing person who is destined to do even more. Thank you for sharing the story on NPR.

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for listening!

  4. Hi Daryl:

    I just heard your NPR interview this afternoon. Your inner struggle with identity and finding your personal "mission statement" resonated with me, as I'm sure it does with many of us out there.

    At the beginning of the story, it sounded as though you would have an epiphany about your place in the world, much like the first Peace Pilgrim, Mildren Norman, had apparently experienced in her journey.

    It was disheartening to hear that, not only is that personal discovery rare, but we should all really just stop thinking too deeply into it and "move on with our lives."

    I like capitalism as much as the next guy, but hearing your story has ultimately left me feeling sad that there isn't more to life beyond going with the flow. I want to know why I'm here. I want to feel that my mission statement is out there, waiting for me to discover it.

    Maybe such things only exist in Hollywood.

    1. Hey mytincart,

      Can you stand a quote? I remember one from Howard Thurman, a Christian mystic who mentored Martin Luther King:

      "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

      I didn't have a grand, sweeping epiphany like the first Peace Pilgrim did. It's what I wanted, but not what I got. What I did get was more like a slow burn. While I was seeking and walking, I wasn't writing anything. Months after it all ended, I got to a point where I was so dispirited, I HAD to start writing stories again. I needed to feel the joy that writing gave me - that it's always given me - or I was going to plunge into total darkness.

      I think what tripped me up was believing that my mission statement was something to be found outside myself. What I realized was that everything I was looking for was already inside of me. I didn't need to find it "out there" - I just needed to quiet my mind and listen to my heart so that what was within me could finally be expressed.

      What brings you joy like nothing else? Whatever that thing is, that's the key to your mission statement, I think. Follow it, and see where it leads you. Don't give up. Surround yourself with good people who inspire you - can't emphasize that enough, really. And when all else fails, go with your gut and your intuition.

      You already have all the answers you need.



      "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls." Joseph Campbell

  5. I was only able to hear the first few minutes of your story this afternoon, but I was hooked... Thank you for pointing us to where/when we can listen because I can't wait to really hear the rest. Your story made me contemplate my own faith (Coptic Orthodoxy) and faith journey as well as those of my friends. God bless you. May you find peace, joy, love... which passes all understanding. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Tasoni. I'm glad that you enjoyed the story. Good luck in your walk.

  6. I was on my way to the grocery store today when I started listening to your story. I sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes in my running car, transfixed. I especially loved the billboard. Good for you for knowing you made a mistake - sometimes that is the hardest thing to admit of all.

    1. Thanks, Ellen. I appreciate you listening.

  7. Have you ever heard of the Baha'i Faith? I get great answers from it about purpose and the meaning of life (to say the very least). Maybe you want to check it out.
    All the best to you - I really enjoyed your story.

    1. Glad you liked the story. I have heard of the Baha'i Faith and even got a chance to visit their sacred grounds in Israel. Awesome place.

  8. Hey Daryl,

    I sent ya an email! I think your gonna like it.
    Btw, looking forward to seeing Unbound!


  9. I think I encountered a similar moment in my life but took more careful, modest attempts at "discovery". My original perspective was not biased towards religion either, as I've historically been an agnostic atheist.

    I hoped for an experience of clarity and understanding. My process ended with a whimper. Sounded almost similar to what you put yourself through except I didn't get any billboard. I just made some nice artwork.

    I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for someone who was raised a theist, such as yourself. Trying to defend the existence of a god...

    I hope you've found some comfort nowadays and I hope those ideas are no longer a struggle for you.

    1. Hey Estevan,

      Thanks for writing, and for sharing your story.

      I've definitely found more peace and comfort than I had since I tried walking across the country. A large part of that had to do with focusing on the things that make me happy - writing, performing, and being close to good friends and family. Can't ask for more than that.