23,000 km - a helluva of a long distance, about 8,000 km more than I have traveled so far on this trip, and just over half the circumference of the Earth, which is about 40,000 km. So what exactly does 23,000 km equate to? It's the distance traveled by "Yes Man", a book I picked up in Frankfurt on the last day of my recent summer trip and took home with me to Canada and then on to Brazil, from where it journeyed from Sao Paulo all the way down south to Florianopolis, back up north to Rio, then Fortaleza, and to Natal, where I am leaving this book behind before heading to Recife today.
%20http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/11/1283899486/tpod.html (< ERROR: the link title is too long!) I realized something about hostel book exchanges and became fascinated by it - the fact that so many books change hands everyday, and the distances that the books travel with their new owners. If one person could take a book 23,000 km around the world, how far would that book travel in its lifetime? How many countries would it visit? How many people would turn its pages, and how many of those people would find some profound meaning bound within, something that would inspire them to effect positive change within their lives?
"Yes Man" is a funny thing ... I met Costas, a Greek guy, at Tucano House in Florianopolis, where he happened to notice the book I was carrying. Turns out that he went to university with Danny Wallace, the author of the book! It just goes to show you that as vast as the world is, the more you travel it, the smaller it becomes.
So, the book - its premise is simple, the true story of a guy who had sunk into a bad depression and retreated from life, avoiding all that it had to offer. After a chance encounter with a random stranger on the bus, he decided to change his life by saying yes to every thing and every opportunity that came his way. While overall I liked the book, I gotta say I found it quite contrived in the beginning, with scenarios that seemed far-fetched, and situations that the author seemingly put himself in only because he knew that it would make for a good story.
But the more I read, I realized that those things aside, the book really did deliver an important message - that far too often, we say no to things because we deem them too risky. "Sometimes you have to make a decision to protect yourself. Sometimes it's better to lose a foot than risk a leg." We've all been there before, taking the safe way out when in reality, the greater risk is to not seize the opportunities we have. After all, wouldn't most people agree that they never want to look back on their lives and wonder "What if?" The book does a good job of pointing out how saying yes to something trivial can lead to other things, which can eventually lead to something great. So the moral of the story? Say yes a little more - you might even find yourself having the time of your life in Brazil!