Lowell Sheppard takes the Proust Questionnaire

One of Nagoya’s most philanthropic foreign residents answers the Proust Questionnaire

Born in the small town of Eston, in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, Lowell Sheppard came to Japan in 1996 from England. This was the result of a deal he made with his wife a Canadian also who spent her early years in Japan.

The deal was this: she would go with him to the UK after they married in 1980, and then he would go to live in Japan with her. In 1995 she called him on it. He says he has never regretted it. After moving here he discovered that he had actually married a Japanese woman who just looked Canadian.

Lowell’s work with HOPE International Development Agency takes up the bulk of his time and is his passion. HOPE is focused on helping families imprisoned by extreme poverty become self reliant and self determining. He has been an active member of the Nagoya expatriate community and actively participated in helping get help to those affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami. His work takes him all over Asia and the world, helping families obtain clean drinking water and has had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless people.

But who is the real Lowell Sheppard? We asked him to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire so we could find out what makes this remarkably humble man tick.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Contentment with your calling and circumstance in life. But Happiness for me is also connected with challenges and adventure and facing adversity. Ultimately, though I suppose happiness is “loving and being loved”.

What is your greatest fear?

I have a re-occurring bad dream of being arrested and detained in a foreign country amidst political unrest. I actually wake up in a cold sweat. I suppose I also fear leading a meaningless life.

What historical figure do you most identify with?

David (who wrote many of the Psalms). A leader who was thoughtful, creative and compassionate.

Which living person do you most admire?

Wow… so many, but at the top of the list would have to be the courageous woman that married me. Kande Sheppard

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am a “worrier”.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Cuban Cigars

On what occasion do you lie?

I lie to myself when looking in the mirror. I see a young man still.

What has been your favorite journey?

Riding my bicycle around Japan particularly when I did for the first time in the year 2000. It was in the writing phase of my adult life and my publisher commissioned me to write a book called Chasing the Cherry Blossom. They had a bike built for me and paid all my expenses. Heaven… riding from Onsen to Onsen for 3000 kms and enjoying parties under the Sakura. My second favorite bike ride was with my dog. It was a Japan Coast to Coast, the long way around. The theme were Tsunami Stones. But my favorite journey is yet to come. It is in the planning stages and does not involve a bike.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Patience, it can be an excuse for laziness and procrastination.

Which person do you most despise?

I do not despise anyone.

What is your greatest regret?

Hmm… not competing in the Marathon De Sables.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To sing.

What is your most treasured possession?

A walking stick I made for my father nearly 40 years ago.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  

Without a doubt losing a child. When our first born passed away, The darkness was overwhelming and the sadness crippling. But a second “M” word came out of the misery. Mystery! And embracing it helped me in a myriad of ways.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I am bald.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Integrity with grace

What is the quality you most admire in a woman?  

Integrity with grace

What do you most value in your friends?  

Longevity in relationship

How would you like to die?


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