What’s the point of living life if you’re not living it well? A simple idea, maybe, but in this ever-more-frenetic world, it seems harder and harder to do. Life catches up to us, business booms, and then, before we know it, our kids are grown and gone. It’s rare that we ever take time to appreciate what we’re doing, because – heck – we’re too busy doing it.
But this is no way to live.
Santa Barbara resident Adam C. Hall’s debut memoir EarthKeeper: Undeveloping the Future is this case in print. Written in short bursts of quick-moving prose, EarthKeeper is the story of a man whose years of dog-eat-dog professionalism and bigger-faster-stronger lifestyle eventually overtake him. After a soul-stirring epiphany, Hall then attempts to do something that so many of us find ourselves wondering about: how to live life, simply, better.
The story beings with the author–and protagonist—in a bad way; his job is taking over his life (physically, emotionally, and ultimately spiritually) and his home life is steadily coming apart. Reluctant to give up his high-level of work success and income (Hall is a high-stakes real estate broker), things deteriorate until one day he hears a voice – literally, a voice (he calls it Laia) – advising him of a different path.
This is where I usually tune-out of this sort of book. When the protagonist hears voices it’s usually a precursor to some New Age puffery that I’d prefer to leave on the bedside table. Life’s hard. I’m busy. There’s too much of the scientist in me to let this fly. Next, please. But Hall sidesteps this reaction, let’s you think of the voice what you will, thus giving you room to assess his situation as it unfolds.
In short, the unraveling of the author’s life becomes a turning point on his journey. He begins a process of discovery that includes investigating the Incan medicine wheel, discovering shamanism, and other, more extreme forms of self-inquiry. Connecting with nature is the thread here, and through Hall’s experiences we can see how, like the proverbial onion, layers of self are revealed and his inner nature explored.
What Hall discovers is that in order for him to move forward in a positive way, he, the land developer, must “undevelop” himself; that is, take command of the present situation and make a conscious decision to forgive, let go, and move in that positive direction. The thread seems to be: The world may be out of our control, but we are part of it, and we deserve to be happy.
Not a book that dwells on any one process or gets too sentimental, EarthKeeper is written as a successful professional might write a spiritual book – as a telling of events, pertinent and to the point, intended to help.
Written for everyone who’s ever been caught up in the workaday world and knows that there’s something better but forgets to find out what that better thing is, the book is a revelation that puts the power of life back into the reader’s hands. Written in easy prose and sectioned into bite-sized chunks, it makes for a quick yet moving read.
The take-home? You are not a cog in a wheel. You are a living, breathing part of this earth and the decisions you make matter. From working hard to letting go your success lies within you.