Monday, July 03, 2006

A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow by Tim Brookes

I was a bit surprised by this book. As with most funny titles, I really should know better then to think that it means the book will be funny too…. The book has it’s moments, instead there is a real sense of what America is like. Not just the fast food, over eating, fake side that most books written by non-American’s talk about. Brookes finds the adventurous, proud, kind side that I remember and miss!

I picked up the book at my favorite new/used book store. I was feeling very homesick for the US at the time, so I was happy to pick up this book about hitchhiking around the country. Tim is commissioned by National Geographic to travel around the States in 1998 like he had when he was 20 in 1973. A photographer also traveled around by car, sometimes with Brookes and sometimes on his own, taking pictures for the magazine article. This is not a picture book, however there are a few pages in the middle.

What struck me most about this book was his discussion toward the end about letting go of control. Many people we know need to have complete control of all situations. They don’t like to be alone, or try new things without someone being with them. I have found in my life that these are the moments when I learn the greatest things about myself and my fellow human beings. Brookes talks to the photographer, Tomasz, about this:

I couldn’t shake a very strong sense that giving up control exerts some kind of attraction that is, in the language of quantum physics, “non-local”: It affects people and even objects in ways and at distances that it shouldn’t. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the conscious mind; in fact, our conscious mind seems mostly to get in the way, by second-guessing and worrying too much. Every time I’ve stated worrying about whether I’ll get a ride, I told him, it has done me no good… (238-239)

If you never like to do new things where you aren’t in control of the situation…you never learn that you don’t NEED to be in control. Things will work out on their own, if you let them. When I flew on my own for the first time I found it so exhilarating and very scarey! But I found that no matter what problems might creep up, I learned that I could handle the issue with an inner strength that I didn’t know I had. I use this often now when I need to travel on my own. If you don’t have a car to control you have to allow others to get you from A to B. All you can do is plan the route to your best ability and then trust that if for some reason something happens that doesn’t go to your plan, you can still work through what you need to do to get there.

Brookes also talks about strangers:

Many of the people who bring about the greatest changes in our lives are strangers, and, by the same token, many of the most important events seem to arise by sheer coincidence (239).

I’ve been amazed at how people react to you if you are traveling on your own. I’ve had such friendly interesting conversation with people that I wouldn’t have had if I was with someone. Sometimes these are the times when you get not only an insight into yourself, but also to what people are really like. Recently I’ve started doing crafts again. I never stopped really, but I haven’t been going at it with such ferver as before. I’ve let some strangers into my life that have changed me. People have challenged my view of arts and crafts, who have made me learn new skills. Sometimes you just have to be open to it, or stagnate and become someone who is unhappy because life can’t be controlled. Things are going to happen. I have faith that a positive outlook on life and my ability to face trails will actually not let terrible things happen. If I hadn’t married Rich and moved clear across the globe, would I be as happy…no…but I trusted him and me and felt that we could make it. Four years on, we are still happy and thriving in our life. This books really made me see that more then I had before. Sometimes books just do that!

So I’ve rattled on, I would suggest you read this book if you are interested in travel books. He meets very interesting people and learns a bit about himself and society along the way. He has a positive experience and sees America as the many parts it is, instead of one society. Many people I deal with here in the UK don’t get that. They think we are all the same, Brookes reveals that we aren’t.

Now that I've been such a bore with my review...I thought I would offer the book to anyone who is interested. If I get more then one reply I'll have a drawing for the book! I've been thinking about this and feel that I really want to make sure these books get recycled to others that might enjoy them! It is a hardback copy in really good condition. Drawing will happen on July 15th......


Lotus Reads said...

What a nice review, Dawn. I love travel books and would have entered my name for the draw if I wasn't going on a little journey myself! :)

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

This sounds like a great book and the aspects you touched on really speak to me. I'd love to put my name in for the draw.

Dawn said... will go in the pile..if I need to make a pile.