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It’s almost summer and we all know what that means.  Yes, reading a good book at the beach.  Well, okay.  Maybe that doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for some I am told.  For me, reading has always been important.  No, reading is not everything to me…after all, I would rather write (and get paid to do it) than read, but sometimes, reading is a great way to expand one’s views on just about everything.

I tend to order books from one of the Amazon sites – it is dead easy, and after a few days, the books appear magically at my front door.  Yesterday, a new purchase arrived.  Well, I should clarify that a bit.  The book that I just ordered was first published in 1938, and I previously did have a copy of it.  I first read the book, Richard Halliburton’s Second Book of Marvels, when I was 11 or 12, and at the time, it filled my head with visions of a different world.  Halliburton was an explorer-cum-journalist-cum-adventurer who wrote extensively about what he saw on his travels around the world.  The Second Book of Marvels is not exactly classical travel literature.  But it was at the time for me, a fabulous way to vicariously be part of Halliburton’s journeys, and it (quite obviously) left an indelible mark on my brain…and probably was also the beginnings of my bucket.

This isn’t the only book that had an impact on my life.  In the late 1980’s, I read a book called Maiden Voyage, about a 18 year-old girl who sailed around the world single-handedly, in a 26ft sailboat.  I can remember at the time that I was mesmerised by the photos and probably spent far more time looking at them than I did devouring the text.  I never really had a desire to sail around the world, but the whole sailing thing resonated within me to the point that it wasn’t more than two or three months after reading Maiden Voyage that I bought my first sailboat. Her book is a wonderful story about how you overcome what may appear to be insurmountable odds. 

I can remember years ago, after my second boat was a big enough stimulus for me to sell my house and become a liveaboard.  We had gone to a boat show in Chicago, and there was Tania Aebi (the author of Maiden Voyage) speaking to the assembled boaty-throngs about her circumnavigation.  After some prodding from my step-daughter, I actually went up to Tania after her talk and rambled on for several minutes about how her book had changed my life.  She listened intently to my story of how reading her book caused me to buy a boat and now actually live onboard a boat, and then she said, ‘cool.’  No, 'Gee, that is great,' or 'wow, I had no idea that my book was such an inspiration.'  Just 'cool.'  And then she walked away.  So much for meeting one’s heroes.

I have other books that have influenced my life to be sure.  They are pretty easy to spot amongst the random titles that litter my bookshelves.  I seem to have quite a few books on the subject of far-eastern philosophy written by Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama; and books in mid-eastern philosophy by J. Krishnamurti.  These books are chocker with (what I believe to be) common sense ways to live one’s life and I know they have been a strong influence on me.   No, I am not about to shave my head and wear a lot of orange.  Yes, I just love to learn.  Once a friend asked me why I have so many books like this and I didn't really have an answer.  I suppose it could be because I subscribe to the belief that 'when the student is ready, the teacher appears.'  I was ready to learn from them and I found them (or they found me). 

Things have been pretty calm here lately (other than the excitement of receiving the Halliburton book).  I would love to write about incredible experiences I have had, but the reality is that it has been as normal as one could yearn for.   I did actually go out to La Antigua this morning.  It has been several months since I have even been there and it did look a bit different than when I left it.  My renters have…well, they have tried to make it ‘their home,’ which is a good thing I guess.  Little do they know that no matter what they do, my La Antigua will always be firmly etched into my head and a part of my life. 

And then tonight, after dinner, I went for an evening walk and discovered what appeared to be the ruins of some terribly old fortress-type building near Sol y Mar.  I thought it might be interesting to learn more about the construction; who made it, when it was built, and for what purpose.  So I asked a neighbour, hoping to learn something incredible about the history of this part of the island.  I was told that ‘it is an old building.’  Right. 

I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow, but I would wager it would include reading Halliburton's book again...and thinking about my bucket.

 

Richard Halliburton

 

Tania, as she completed her circumnavigation

 

another day at the market

 

the mystical ruins

 

the webcam view today

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley

jbrieley@rieley.com