My friend Aaron recommended this book to me years ago, maybe even in junior high school, while I was reading any Michael Crichton I could find (Sphere, Jurassic Park, etc).
But I didn't get to it. It sounded boring. Who'd want to read about some guy's vacations? … said the travel-blogger.
Mary read it just recently and I finally picked it up. It was pretty interesting. Crichton has some great yarns. His medical school experience, some hair-raising SCUBA diving trips, shooting movies with Sean Connery, and trips into the wilderness.
But the book is primarily about his inner-travels, if you will, masqueraded as a travelogue. It becomes more and more apparent as you read. And I'm not just talking about discovering self. I'm talking about full-on paranormal inner-travels.
Crichton would appear to be a rational guy. And he is self-aware of those who have gone before him like Arthur Conan Doyle, who–despite writing Sherlock Holmes–was still a believer in seances and fairies.
Crichton follows the same past. In the book Crichton comes to believe in psychics and even learns to do his own readings. He is taught to see auras. He bonds with a talking cactus (no fooling).
These stories all give Crichton a belief in many mystical phenomenon. He accepts psychics, out of body experiences, and even, to a limited extent, telekinesis. He doesn't accept levitation and past lives.
I just don't quite know how to take all of it. I am willing to accept that there are things that science doesn't fully understand yet. In fact, any belief I have in a soul or an afterlife must put me at odds with science, and how far are auras from souls really? (Crichton draws the parallel between auras and halos, which is certainly intriguing.)
The book is worth the read for the travel stories alone, but with some added food for thought.