Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Book Review

I just finished reading a wonderful book; the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

In simple words it’s a story about a man who starts to walk perhaps to just snap out of a monotonous life and those few steps turn into a monumental journey and a pilgrimage of sorts and hence the title. His walk alone with his own overwhelming thoughts, basic survival mechanisms, and encounters with the people that he met on the journey; all of them, slowly over the course of 600 miles, unraveled the knots inside of him. From Kingston to Barack- upon-tweed, through noisy highways and green Rolling Meadows, with harsh sun and drenching rain, the book is very well written. It was so easy to feel the pain of a newly forming blister and the taste the salt in the moisture laden ocean breeze.

The story, if told in plain words wouldn't amount to much because it would just be the story of everyday life, of you and of me, of a man and a wife and the journey that they took together and separately; but the details and the sequence of events and the way he carried everything, without judgment, that he met on the journey made it it’s worth.
What I identified the most with, was the fact that he started without any planning, in his yachting shoes and without any maps or even a mobile phone. Isn't this how we all start, isn't this just the story of our lives? Life doesn't come packaged with a road map and a manual and a troubleshooting guide. It is what it is and we make it or break it by the way we deal with hands that we are dealt, as simple and as complicated as that.  It was a spiritual journey for the man and the readers of the book but without overtly stating that. It just felt right, and this journey was held in the most modern of times where pressures of success and proving ones worth are so real and so is the distraction of social media, with all its advantages and stigmas.
There were several situations and sentences throughout the book that can be popularized irrespective of their context but one particular instance is embedded in my mind: ‘When Harold Fry is talking to a woman and doesn't say the thoughts in his mind stating that, when I say my home, it will be her own home that she’ll think off and the words that affected me will not mean the same to her’.  I have thought so much about this about the way the human mind works and relates and expresses and it is so true the way author has blatantly said it. And yet her own words have broken the boundaries of the way the mind works and I was actually able to relate to the loneliness of the gentleman and his need to do the right thing and make a difference.
As you know I look for signs, and I found this book and Harold’s Journey a sign about new beginnings, about taking action cause sometimes the dreams seem so big that no amount of planning can help wrap arms around it and the only way is to start by putting one foot in front of the other…  

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