A girlfriend who lives on the East Coast emailed, completely excited about her upcoming cruise vacation. “I’m taking your book with me,” she revealed. “It will be the perfect companion for this trip.” Of course I was pleased and honored that she thought of my book, Inside the Flame, to take on her journey. But come to think of it, yes, that is a great idea.
One of the strengths of this little book, is also one of its marketing challenges. The chapters range widely through many adventures, many intricately-described sensory events of being human in a world accessed through sight, sound, taste, touch, mood. Because the book doesn’t follow a single thread, but offers details and anecdotes about many kinds of experience, it’s hard to categorize. But the fact that it offers a wide menu of flavors means that it can be picked up, read a bit, and then put down for awhile. Perfect for travel.
Inside the Flame just might be the perfect book to take on a cruise. You can dip into it, here and there, savor it slowly taking time to re-read and meditate over the many sensory details that fill each chapter. On a cruise, where time runs at a very different pace from everyday life, you are free to let ideas flow into your consciousness, and roam where they like. There’s no pressure from time restrictions, of deadlines, schedules, the usual daily tasks and everyday habits. You’re free to enjoy the suggestions and invitations the book contains.
And while you could also download a Kindle version of the book, having the “real thing” in your hands is one of those additional tactile pleasures, like the umbrella in the drink. The heft of the book in your hands, the feel of the paper, the eye candy of the playful illustrations (by Alice Koswara) and ocean-hued aquamarine headline typeface. I hope my friend keeps a journal as she reads, noting how the activities and discoveries that glide through the pages are familiar from her own life experience. Or not.
If you’re on a cruise, like my friend has planned, you’re already engaged in a new adventure, an odyssey to refresh the full spirit of awareness, of sensory exploration that I consider living “inside the flame.”
On holiday, we give ourselves permission to spend more time plunging deeper into the rich, sensory pleasures that fill each morning, afternoon, evening. Paying attention always seems heightened, sharper to me when I exit my home turf and sail out into new places, newly relaxed activities, and of course that best pleasure of all—having lots of unstructured time to myself.
That’s the best frame of mind in which to consider the various chapters of Inside the Flame. They can be read in any order—although there is an underlying movement toward a sense of closure at the end. On her vacation cruise my friend will hopefully discover her own favorite chapters, the ones that make her smile with recognition. And the ones that excite new possibilities in the life to which she returns, refreshed.