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dawn summer

Rediscover the Joy

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
– Keats

A while ago I was asked to give a talk about six books that meant a lot to me. I was excited to do this, but also nervous (hence this blog post).

One of my worries was that I hadn’t chosen particularly unusual books. (I’ve listed the books – but not my convoluted selection process – at the bottom of this post.) My first book was “The Worst Journey in the World” which is, of course, by Apsley Cherry Garrard and, as you’ll well know, is the story of Captain Scott’s final expedition.

As I began to talk I realised something amazing: the audience (very cool designers, artists, media types) had no idea what I was talking about. None of them had ever read the book. To my astonishment none of them had even heard about the book! I worried even about spoiling the story if I broke the bad news that Captain Scott died at the end of the book!

I love this book so much. I love the world that it represents; it’s my world of adventure and adventure books. This talk made me realise that so many people have no idea about this world. They may have no interest in it either, and that is absolutely fine. The important thing was this: it reminded me of the thrill of discovering this book. I envied these people so much the thrill of reading “The Worst Journey in the World” for the very first time. To read the magnificent final page for the first time. It still makes me well up every time I read it.

So here’s the thing. Take a fresh look at whatever it is you love. That might be your job, your family, your hobby. Look at it again with fresh eyes, as though you were seeing it for the first time and filled with awe and wonder. Remind yourself why you used to love it, why you committed to this route, and how lucky you are to be on that journey.

Incidentally, the 6 Books that I talked about were:

  1. The Worst Journey in the World
  2. Moondust
  3. Arabian Sands
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  5. Feet in the Clouds
  6. As I Walked Out one Midsummer Morning
Read Comments

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  1. When I was in my late teens and early 20s and would tour Europe on a shoestring I would always take ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ with me despite it’s heft, because no matter how bad a time I might be having sleeping behind some Spanish railway station, Apsley Garrard was always having it worse.

    So I might just have been robbed in Naples, so what? At least I didn’t have to fall upon a seal and kill it with my bare hands.

  2. Another marvellous post Al! Even though it can be quite difficult to retain this awe and wonder. Usually change opens our eyes again and makes us wanting to “take a look at ourselves from the outside” I suppose. It might be a mix of knowledge and experience or simply the urge to compare what may reduce enthusiasm and blur our vision…
    This part od my comment may sound awkward but: I can’t stop gazing at the photograph at the top, seriously!! 🙂 The setting may look completely mundane, but the mood and moment captured is the very reverse… Stunner of a shot and incredibly inspiring indeed!

  3. I have read a lot of adventure books, and as I read your list, I realized I hadn’t read any of the books on your list!

    Not totally true – you have written often about “I Walked Out one Midsummer Morning”, so I bought the book and am reading it now. Wow – I can see why Laurie Lee inspired you. Did you read this before your round the world bike trip, and if so was this one of your main inspirations?

  4. An excellent share from your heart! I liked it.

    Since English wasn’t my first or even second language, I learnt it, as well as adventuring thanks to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. I believe my love of dogs and hiking with dogs also comes from that book series. When I am losing interest, I refocus by reading one of those books once again. Surprisingly, my children don’t mind my reading those kid books at all. I am sure they read them when I am not watching lol.

    Thanks again for sharing about books and adventuring.



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