I’ve always believed that everyone has at least one book in them… at least one. After all, in every moment since birth, we’re immersed in an environment that interacts with us constantly, our senses inundated, used, abused, even hijacked. That’s a lot of information to be processed; all building the mental database by which we formulate the opinions, actions, and thoughts that guide our personal lives. To varying extents, most of us pause to try and make sense of it all, try to make a reasonably coherent “whole” from the innumerable parts. I think I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time (maybe too much) in this endeavor and as a result have been writing this book for decades.
Over the years, all who learned of my undertaking invariably ask “What’s it about?” Well.. gee… how does one describe this? My usual response is that it’s about Life and what it puts before us, as interpreted solely from my experience. At this point the inquisitor will appear as if they had received no response at all, give a polite ‘Mmm-hmmm…’ and anxiously await the next topic of conversation. I could have said it’s a collection of my musings, a retrospective on life through my eyes, but I don’t think that would be any more satisfying an answer.
An author and dear friend of mine dove a bit deeper and asked what I hoped to accomplish with my readers. The question helped me clarify what this book is not. It is by no means an “instructional” work, or a “how to” on navigating life. It’s also not a “story” in the sense of a fiction or non-fiction novel that has a sequential storyline and plot, and characters that are introduced as vehicles for the events. No, sorry… this is not that. If you are looking for the next James Bond thriller, quickly return this book before you wrinkle the pages too badly!
If you can be very forgiving with your concept of a “story”, then perhaps you can consider this to be one. A story about a life - mine; and hopefully in many respects, yours as well. But I am just one, arriving in this backdrop of Earth along with billions of others. And though we frequently believe that geographical, cultural, and economic differences are vast enough to separate us, in the final analysis there are a finite number of props here for us to play with, and that unites us all with a huge common thread. Laughter is laughter, joy is joy, sadness is sadness, and love is love… no matter who or where you are.
I tend to think we experience the majority of life’s events at the surface level only, as things are moving much too quickly to do otherwise. Things happen, we process what we can in the moment, and move on to engage the next event. But we leave a lot on the table. Our life experiences go woefully unexamined and we miss the opportunities to learn from them.
Imagine gazing out over a vast lake, let’s call it Lake Lyfe, trying to learn all you can about it from your position on shore. All appears calm and fairly uneventful at the surface. Then, an occasional jumping fish, diving bird, or passing duck reveals a whole new aspect of life at the lake. Soon, you begin to think you really know a lot about the lake and all it has to offer. But alas, it’s only life on the lake that you’ve explored. The real action, the essence, the keys to understanding what we see at the surface - that’s the stuff you must pull up from below for closer examination.
Lake Lyfe is filled with all sorts of animate and inanimate objects that represent the pool of endless events from which we draw the experiences in our lives. What we happen to haul in can offer us an insight much more profound than the immediate experience itself, if we just take the time to go deeper. That’s a small charge for the knowledge to be gained about the world around us, and more importantly - ourselves. It’s the icing on our cake. It’s the significant part of life that’s just waiting to enrich the one we lead at the surface - so go after it. The above comparison leads me to hopefully now describe what this book is.
As you’re about to discover, this work remains faithful to the lake comparison in that there is no continuum of events, nor any interrelationship between the chapters. (Just as would result from the random casts of a fishing line into a lake.) It's more a collection of the events I’ve surfaced and the ramifications of those experiences.
We may or may not share the exact experience, but it’s the essence of an experience, be it first-hand or relayed to us, that we can all relate to as we compare our own responses to similar events – real or imagined. So as you read on, your reactions to my interpretations may elicit confluence, anger, curiosity, or just bewilderment, but hopefully will also lure you into examining your own thoughts on these and similar experiences. As so often happens, just hearing a different perspective from our own can prompt us to at least consider the alternatives going forward. The world and everything in it continues to do that for me. OK. Let’s see what surfaces.