Travels (& a goal for 2015)
Reading more was one of my 2014 goals. Towards the end of the year, I decided it was time to reread some of my favorite old books - most of which I hadn’t picked up in over a decade. One of these books was ‘Travels’, a non-fiction memoir written by Michael Crichton in 1988, about his travels - both physical e.g. vacations, and metaphysical. The book is divided roughly into three sections: reflections from Crichton’s time as a medical school student at Harvard; trips taken around the world over a 20 year span starting in his late 20s; and spiritual journeys where he makes a very convincing case for scientifically debatable phenomena - e.g. psychic readings and spoon bending. Each chapter is underpinned by lessons and insights Crichton gleaned from his life experiences. For example:
- On a diving trip in Tahiti with his family they experienced frequent, repeat encounters with sharks. Everyone regularly discussed how dangerous this was, yet kept on diving the same pass day after day. This made him realize that his family didn’t actually think they were putting themselves in real danger, and therefore the only true expressions of belief lie in action, not words
- The fulfillment he felt despite mental and physical challenges experienced while climbing Kilimanjaro - 5 days of being dirty, cold and physically exhausted - led to the realization that he’d defined what he liked and didn’t like much too narrowly, and generally that he was wrong about himself. This resulted in a much greater level of openness towards new experiences
- After being swarmed by bees in a Malaysian jungle with no choice but to remain absolutely calm, he came to accept that some situations are outside of his control, and that he tried to control his environment too much rather than let situations take a natural course
As I reflected on this book, I thought about how new experiences provide such unique opportunities to learn, acquire knowledge, and enrich oneself. This is certainly how Crichton treated his travels and other life experiences. While we’re not all in situations where travel is easy or even possible, we are all in a position to experience new things, and take these lessons along with us in life. So, as we enter 2015, this is one of my goals.