I picked up this book last night off my side table to read a few pages and get a feel for where it was going. Three hours later I hadn't moved and I didn't stop reading until I finished the book. I kept forgetting to breathe. This book should be required reading for every pre-med student. I was horrified by the stories, not of incompetence, but of disregard by medical professionals of the spiritual and emotional needs of a young boy suffering so much trauma, day after day. The writer's forgiveness for all that he experienced and endured is truly remarkable. Readers should note that this book not only tells a passionate and beautiful story, but the writing is simply superb. Although I read the book through in one sitting, the metaphors and deeper meanings keep bubbling up to me, like all those phantoms and ghosts that circulate through the writer's words. This book is not going to be what you expect: Boy has accident, Boy can't walk again, yet, against all odds, Boy climbs Mt. Everest. The boy in this book takes us on a transformative journey that is far more life affirming. It's ultimately a true story about all of us and our inner capacity for survival.
I read through Matt Sanford's book, Waking: a Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, without being able to put it down. It's not just his story; it's a story for all.
The gruesome car accident that shapes and alters his life irrevocably is awful, but not entirely uncommon. We receive these kinds of shocking and horrific stories amply through the media about people who have experienced the unconscionable--and often conquer it in one way or another--for the sake of entertainment. But Matt's story is different because it is not meant to shock or seek pity, and is not a story of complete triumph--although there is plenty of redemption. For me it is more a story of acceptance, love, and commonality with all: large or small, rich or poor, walking or not walking. He teaches that we all have the ability to cope with tragedy and pain, he teaches us all to appreciate and keep every window and door to our minds and bodies--our homes--open and healing. Finally he teaches that we have the capacity to have great tolerance with others through this greater understanding of the struggles and joys of life and death.
You will connect easily with the voice of this boy--who matured into a man practically overnight--in all his wonder, pain, humor, vulnerability and Herculean desire to be strong and able. You will want to sear his poetic lines, youthful insights, and poignant views into your mind from the days in his Foster frame to today in his wheelchair. You'll want to check in with him tomorrow and next year and in 20 years to see what else he has learned. The reader benefits greatly from the child-like wonderment to the insights of a well-educated philosopher and trained student of yoga and back again.
Read the book, you will learn a great deal about yourself and life around us. I sure did. There isn't a life for which this story wouldn't apply for we all experience trauma and pain, life and death -- it's how we choose to live with it that is the ultimate quest.