Thursday, August 13, 2009

Everyone has a story to tell

I love reading memoirs. Everyone has a story to tell and I like reading about other peoples lives. One of the perks of my job is that we have advanced readers editions of books not published yet come into our store in hopes that the booksellers will read it and then promote it when it actually is for sale. I love this. I go to this shelf when I need something to read and just can't seem to settle on all the recommendations and books already on my to-read list.

The one I just finished is amazing. It's called Double Take and it's written by a guy named Kevin Connolly. He was born without legs and this is his story. He writes with no pity or any notion that anyone owes him anything because he is different. He just writes about his life. The last third of the book is about his travels around the world, on his skateboard, taking pictures of peoples reactions to him. Looking at the pictures before knowing the idea behind them, you think "So, it's a guy staring at the photographer. Big deal." But when you learn that the man behind the lens has no legs, gets around by pushing himself on an old skateboard, and that he took many many other photographs just like this, it takes the meaning of the picture to a whole new level.

I rarely read a memoir and really want to meet the author afterward. Sure I want to meet them because the are a published author. But I want to meet Kevin because he seems like such a genuine guy. I'm impressed by his ability to adapt. He was never one for a wheelchair, didn't feel right. And he just found he could get around easier on his skateboard. He stated that he never felt handicapped. In fact he had a great whole paragraph on his interpretation of the word "disabled." "You are only disabled if you are incapable of overcoming the challenges presented in any given situation." I think that is brilliant. There are so many, in fact a good chunk of the Earth's population could probably take a life lesson from Kevin.

I went to yoga last night and part way through a very hot and tough class the teacher asked us to give thanks that we could do this hard class in the first place, that we were able-bodied and present. I immediately thought of this book and Kevin. He would push through any obstacle and arrive on the other end. I silently thanked him at that moment. Thanked him for writing his book, for telling his story, and for empowering me to get through this one class. And in the long run, for reminding me that life truly is what you make it. No one can do it for you and you can do anything that you set your mind to.

I encourage everyone to read this book when it comes out this October. Until then, check out his website and his photos from his round-the-world trip at

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