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When All is Lost, Walk.

May 24, 2010

A Montana Walkabout - M. Catoggio

I’m so excited! I remember being entranced by novels at the age of 16. I would pick one up on a weekend morning and not close it shut until the sun went down the same day. Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel were my favorite authors back then. Good stuff! I don’t believe I’ve read a novel since, mostly because I became fascinated with self-actualization books. What I’ve quickly realized through The Walk is that we also can learn some hearty lessons via a good novel—one that mimics the real life situations many people endure.

Are novels that far-fetched? Some, yes. But all we need to do is turn on the nightly news to experience the realness of our lives.  The Walk is exceptional, and that “I can’t put it down” feeling I had as a young reader has returned.

I’ve chosen to read and blog about The Walk: A Novel, by Richard Paul Evans for two reasons. First, because I have been craving the “Calgon—Take Me Away” sensation a good novel gives me, and second, because the description of this one in particular felt appropriate to be reading right now. I believe the author knew what he was doing creating a piece such as this one, right now, when so many people in our country have lost so much of what was a big part of them—a career, a marriage, a home, or as in the case of The Walk, all of the above and then some.

In the first chapter of the book, the main character, Alan Christoffersen, has this to say…

Life has taught me that to fly, you must first accept the possibility of falling.”

He has fallen hard, and I have to admit that going through the motions with him was not easy. I was holding my breath, clinching my hands, screaming (inside…didn’t want to frighten my little ones!), and crying heavily. Alan definitely takes you for the ride.

In the middle of the book (yes, I’m already almost finished with this one after just one day!) he explains what he’s been through to a stranger he meets in a small town. It’s a great summary of the novel:

“(I had the) Classic riches to rags story. I had the perfect life. And in less than six weeks it was gone. I owned a Seattle advertising agency. Actually, money was only a small part of it. One day my wife was thrown from a horse. She was paralyzed from the chest down. Then a month later, she died from complications. While I was taking care of her, my business partner stole my agency, and my home went into foreclosure. I lost everything. That’s when I decided to walk away.”

He walked all right—3,600 miles to the farthest point from Seattle—Key West.

I guess in a spiritual way I was called to this novel because of the many benefits one can receive from walking. Aside from exercise, walking can be a form of mindful meditation, and for me, it has always been a source of creativity. I can not only come to closure on issues that are “in my way,” but also come up with some great ideas while going for a walk. Or, as I like to say, the answers and ideas come to me.

In the novel, Alan has this to say about his decision to walk…

“In that moment it was clear to me what I had to do…the only thing left for me to do. I needed to walk far away. I believe that in spite of the chains we bind ourselves with, there’s a primordial section of the human psyche that is still nomadic and still yearns to roam free. We see evidence of this in the walkabouts of the Australian aborigines and the Spirit Walk of the native Americans. But it’s not new. Every generation has dreamed of roaming. Deep in our hearts everyone wants to walk free.”

You will find many aha moments while reading The Walk, and there are definitely lessons the author hopes we will learn from his masterpiece. Things like, walking a day in your father’s shoes (Alan’s mother died when he was young and now he understands—a bit—what his father went through); listening to your intuition (his no good, crooked partner); not living beyond your means (the success of his agency enticed them to have it all NOW), and taking the time to smell the roses (would his wife have had the accident if he had taken her up on her invitation to spend the day together instead of rush to work as usual?). And, there are many more lessons we can learn as Alan begins his journey—on foot— to Key West.

One final one that truly made me stop and think, and I’ll close with this, is the transition of death. I see so many individuals struggle and fall into deep darkness at the loss of a loved one. In the book, Alan is definitely in the pit of that darkness. When we lose someone it is hard to find the light in the darkness. For many, they never find that light. Here are a few passages in the book spoken by a small town stranger (to Alan) that helped me feel lighter about death when I walked in Alan’s shoes:

“That’s all death requires of us, to give up living. The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth. And growth requires pain. So to choose life is to accept pain. Some people go to such lengths to avoid pain that they give up on life. The irony is, in the end their escape becomes more painful than what they are avoiding….You know, (Alan) she’s not really gone. She’s still a part of you. What part of you is your choice. She can be a spring of gratitude and joy, or she can be a fountain of bitterness and pain. It is entirely up to you…The greatest secret of life is that we find exactly what we’re looking for. In spite of what happens to us, ultimately we decide whether our lives are good or bad, ugly or beautiful.”

At this point in the story, Alan has only walked for a handful of days. Some may get the feeling that he’s given up, that he is weak for not fighting for his agency, for his home, for his life. But is he weak? There is a powerful Zen quality to this story that I appreciate. Sometimes the transformation we seek is in letting go instead of holding on and fighting. I believe Alan is powerful and courageous, and he is on his way to finding that within him which will lead him home—wherever that may be.

How can you choose happiness in this moment?

What in your life may you be seeing as bad or ugly, which can instead be a source of beauty for you?

Walk on, and have a wonderful week.

Namaste,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

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8 Responses to “When All is Lost, Walk.”


  1. Thank you, Monique,

    I love this author for his insights into our humanness.

    As a veracious reader I am always on the lookout for a great one!

    Leaning toward happy,
    Roz

    • Being En Pointe Says:

      Hi Roz! Thanks for reading my post and commenting. I’m happy to recommend The Walk and hope you enjoy it.
      Leaning toward happy right along with you…Monique

  2. Mom Says:

    Great blog – sounds like a beautiful novel with many lessons contained within.
    You ask:
    1.How can you choose happiness in this moment? And my response is that for me, it is a conscious decision which I think about and make every minute of every day.

    2.What in your life may you be seeing as bad or ugly, which can instead be a source of beauty for you? Like Alan, in ‘Walk’, I have learned from my life experiences (and continue to do so). I do choose to find the best in situations…

    • Being En Pointe Says:

      Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Your answers remind me of a principle I know we both enjoy…. Each moment describes who you are, and gives you the opportunity to decide if that’s who you want to be. A single moment is very powerful! Much love to you!!


  3. Wow! Talk about Karma. My post this morning at CareerJockey.org has so much in common with the book I just read. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

    It’s all about finding purpose in your life and meaning. If you can get there (and people / characters all have their own way of doing so) everything else falls into place.

    I’ll be getting me a copy of this one for the long weekend that’s coming up.

    • Being En Pointe Says:

      Absolutely. I love speaking with others and finding out how they find their peace and purpose, whether it is walking, running, praying, reading, etc. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the book!

  4. Debbie Says:

    Good post. I’m going to get this book and read it.

    • Being En Pointe Says:

      Debbie, thanks so much for visiting and reading my post. Enjoy The Walk! Let me know what you think.

      My best,
      Monique


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