On being a book - Almonte Human Library Day

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The good folk at the Almonte Public Library invited me to join them as a ‘book’ resource for their Human Library project. The five branches of the Mississippi Mills public library offered readers the opportunity to check out a book for a half hour question and answer session on a wide range of interesting topics.

I was asked to speak on my Fall 2013 trek to Everest Base Camp. I spent 11 days in the Nepalese Himalaya. I experienced the magic of visiting Everest Base Camp on my 60th birthday. Hiking with the support of my guide Birodh and a porter to 5,550 m was the most challenging physical accomplishment of my life. We were blessed with the most pristine blue skies as a backdrop to the magnificent snow covered peaks. There is no question that this was the most visually stunning region I have ever encountered.

My observation is that you do not need to be an Olympic calibre athlete to undertake this trek. But conversely, it would be a mistake to underestimate the physically and mentally demanding nature of the adventure. For this to be enjoyable, the trekker should be of average, or above-average fitness and hardy in a way that can only come from enduring and succeeding in environments that demand our fullest attention and effort.

It was surprising to me that my reader was less interested in the specifics of my trip, but in fact was more intent to learn about the process of inspiration and motivation that caused me to decide to go on such an adventure. This was an eye-opener for me, but surely no less valid as a reason to seek wisdom from a resource.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I found the chance to connect with a stranger on a topic of shared interest very stimulating. It had the delicious anonymous quality of a conversation with an airplane seat mate - yet with a more deliberate and targeted subject.

I am reminded that we are a race drawn to story-telling. It could only have been better with a camp fire. This opportunity to enjoy a social connection is one of the three most basic needs to enjoy a full and long life. The others being daily physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices around diet.

I was happy to be taken from the shelf, and given an intellectual spin around the library stacks. No question, I would do this again.