by Michael Crichton
I actually can’t remember where I first came across this book, but its been on my to-read list for a while, along with a few of his other books. But I managed to get my paws on this cheap, old copy via eBay, and tore through it a lot faster than I expected to! I personally loved it from page 1, but it definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Michael Crichton goes right back to the start, when he was studying medicine, before he “made it” as a writer, which may seem a little pointless, but is completely necessary to show you why he turned to travel. This was where I realised this was the perfect book for me to be reading…
“I conceived these trips as vacations – as respites from my ongoing life – but that wasn’t how they turned out. Eventually, I realized that many of the most important changes in my life had come about because of my travel experiences. For, however tame when compared to the excursions of real adventurers, these trips were genuine adventures for me: I struggled with my fears and limitations, and I learned whatever I was able to learn.”
He wrote that he travelled because he felt lost. He felt the pressures of society and expectations. He had a lot going on in his head that he was trying to make sense of. Me too. He actually summed it up pretty well in this passage…
“Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am… Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routine, your refrigerator full of food, your closet full of clothes – with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.”
He writes about some truly fascinating experiences that he’s had around the world, and writes wonderfully frankly about the impact those experiences have had on him. He also writes about more spiritual experiences and the conflict that caused in his scientific, logical brain. But at the end of the day, he’s open to so many experiences, and as someone who is terrified of the unknown, I really have to admire that – the outcomes were always brilliant learning experiences, and always took him that little bit closer to learning what he felt he needed to know about himself.
“I couldn’t stop trying to control everything… I had been taught countless times that you were supposed to make things happen, that anything less implied shameful passivity. I lived all my life in cities, struggling shoulder to shoulder with other struggling people… when I finally began to crack, when I tried to control everything about my life and my work and the people around me, I somehow ended up in a Malaysian jungle and experiences a solid week of events over which I had absolutely no control. And never would. Events that reminded me that I had my limits and I had no business trying to control as much as I did, even if I could.”
This is not a travel memoir in the typical sense, but a book that seriously challenges what you believe in terms of your own limits, and that’s a book worth reading. Grab a copy here 🙂