Garth Japhet is a medical doctor, but he’s not out to save anyone. What he might do though is listen to you. And in hearing your story he might find a little salvation for himself.
Japhet’s newly published book is Like Water is for Fish (MacMillan). It’s a celebration of story and story sharing as the essence of human existence and connection. It’s also an open-hearted and humble reflection of a personal journey.
These days Japhet’s many roles are tidily summed up as co-founder of Soul City, the internationally acclaimed multimedia edutainment project with its equally successful offshoots. He’s also CEO of NGO Heartlines, a platform for change-making and impact for good. It uses storytelling as a key tool in its campaigns. But behind the titles and what gets squeezed into a bio is dimension, context and something with a more authentic pulse.
He’s used his book to confront his failings and fears and the moments he, as a Christian, didn’t believe God existed at all. He’s open about burnout, his anxiety and depression that turned to dark debilitation. There’s the cruel stab of being made invisible, like the time he ended up in Davos and was treated like pond scum by flashier fish swirling at the World Economic Forum. And there’s the heartache of relationships inextricably intimate but also fractured.
“Part of writing this book was because I thought telling my story might in some way help someone else. I believe there isn’t a personal story that doesn’t hold a seed of truth that can help someone else,” Japhet said at his virtual book launch held via a Daily Maverick webinar on Thursday. In conversation with Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood, he told how it was stories that put him on the path of medicine. He was inspired as a teenager by The Jungle Doctor series of books.