Saanich senior walks to B.C. legislature 224 days in a row to meditate on pandemic

Eijo has been walking two hours a day for the past 224 days straight.

Before he reveals his destination, I wonder about his motivation: “Because..,” he starts searching for the right words, before laughing. “Long story.”

His story begins in Japan, amongst the ruins of the Second World War, when Eijo was a child who suffered relentless and excruciating headaches for years.

“For six years, seven years,” he recalls, saying how the headaches would leave him unable to remember his own name. “I had been thinking just suicide.”

Eijo says he was eventually diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, hospitalized, and given just two months to live.

“(It was) scary,” he says. Scary until a friend came to visit and taught Eijo how to meditate.

“Of course I have nothing to do (in the hospital),” Eijo says. “So day and night, about 10 hours a day, I start chanting.”

It’s the same chant I find the now 76-year-old still doing during his daily walks. Eijo says that after he meditated in hospital for nine months his headaches stopped, and his doctors were surprised to find his tumour was gone.

“Suddenly I felt from a rainy day and a storm to clear sunny day,” Eijo smiles.

Like a rainbow suddenly appeared.

Eijo eventually moved to Canada, where he met his wife of 50 years Danielle, and became an acclaimed photographer. A picture he took of his children blowing dandelion seeds hung in then prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s office in Ottawa.

But then Eijo started losing his sight.

“Not completely. But I cannot focus,” he explains. “I decide I need to change something and I start painting.”

Eijo taught himself how to create bright paintings of the iconic buildings around Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Which brings us back to Eijo’s daily walks, which lead past the causeway where he spent years creating art for tourists, until the pandemic hit.

“I decided I have to do something,” he says.

That’s when Eijo decided to respond to the suffering he saw around him by walking two hours from his home in Saanich to the B.C. legislature (224 days in a row and counting), and realized what he says is his life’s purpose.

“I’m praying for people’s happiness,” he says, before standing at the top of the stairs outside the legislature’s ceremonial entrance and chanting. “Praying for the end of the coronavrius.”

Eijo says he’s committed to meditate here for 30 minutes every day until the pandemic over. Especially after what happened the other day when he questioned whether these actions mattered.

“Suddenly I see big clear rainbow,” he says, seemingly still in awe.

Eijo stopped chanting and asked one of legislature’s many security guards (who he’s befriended) to take a picture of the rainbow.

Eijo continues to be inspired by the vibrant photograph. Like his past dark days had suddenly turned bright, Eijo felt our present days were transforming for the better too.

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