Accidential Enlightenment by Stephen Banick

25 Jul

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Normally, I hate travel books. 

 I know, I know. I can hear a lot of you saying: Now wait just a minute! What’s wrong with travel logs? Well, in my opinion, they’re boring, dull and quite often have as much life to them as a day old piece of toast.  

So I will admit that I was a bit weary of Accidental Enlightenment at first. A travel book AND a self help manual? How could such a thing be possible? I opened the cover to the first page and was prepared to be sceptical of anything and everything in the book.  To my chagrin, however, I was charmed and, oddly enough, enlightened.  

From the preface (where Banick makes his own comments about travel books) to the very last page, Accidental Enlightenment was a complete and utter joy.

Imagine, if you will, being discontent with your lot in life. You wonder where you’re going, what you’re meant to be doing. Are the answers to your questions to be found inside you, or out in the real world?  After being offered a high powered job at a software company, Banick decides to drive instead of fly to his destination. This choice starts him on a journey that will change his life.

Along the way, Banick picks up hitch hikers and learns, for the first time, to really talk to people honestly. But more importantly, he learns to listen.  

When he finally arrives at his job, he’s able to listen to his heart and he knows that his heart and soul aren’t in the job; that he no longer wanted the confining walls of an office building.

So than what is a man to do? Banick decides to continue the travels he started with that innocent road trip and, like so many before him, go exploring.  But what he explores is different from so many others.

While he travels across many different lands and places in Canada, the United States and countries all over the world, what Banick explores is the different cultures he encounters, the different people.  

And still he listens. While he listens, Banick learns and begins to discover things about himself he never thought possible. By listening and learning about others, he learns hidden truths about himself that shake his world and reform it into something wonderful…. 

Accidental Enlightenment is an amazing book from start to finish. My small summarization of the plot does not even come close to describing the wonders that Banick encounters in his fellow human beings. Humanity and the world around him are present in all of Banick’s words and I believe that this is what is missing from so many other travel books.  

While other authors give us an account of what they saw, Banick gives us an account of what he felt, what he sees and hears. We are with him on his many travels, breathing in the truths of others. What is so incredible about this book are the truths, the tid bits of wisdom and knowledge that you pick up while reading it. 

 I found myself quite often reading what I thought was a simple conversation only to have parts of what I read come back to me later once they had sunk in. The truths, the power of the human spirit, is right there; we just have to keep our eyes open while reading.  

Banick’s approach is fun, simple and light. It’s never preachy, never heavy handed and as we learn about Banick’s discoveries we can’t help but learn about ourselves. Accidental Enlightenment is an absolute joy. Banick should be applauded for sharing his journey’s with us.  For as the world changed him, he has changed me and my view of the world around me.

This is an incredible book and I know I won’t ever look at my surroundings in the same way again.  

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One Response to “Accidential Enlightenment by Stephen Banick”

  1. Michelle Cubas, Positive Potentials July 26, 2007 at 7:09 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewer. Steve Banick became part of the landscapes that he describes.

    It is the authenticity that strikes me, the heartfelt compassion. Steve brings the reader with him on his journey. His candor is evident around every page.

    The language is playful yet intelligent. Steve’s metaphors rank high in “Bard-Land.”

    Treat yourself to a “free trip” across the continents with this refreshing and revealing personal experience.

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