One Journey is an Eye-Opener for Any Traveler
“Wow! Just…wow!” was all I could say as I finished reading One Journey by Michael Forester. This book truly opened my eyes to the world of traveling. I believe we all have that traveler’s spirit, that traveler’s mentality to go out and explore the world. However, there maybe parts of it we haven’t thought about venturing to or maybe didn’t have the desire to do so. Thanks to Mr. Forester, though, you will find a new respect for those areas and an urge to visit to see them as he did.
What Is One Journey About?
One Journey is a non-fiction book about the travels of Michael Forester: a poet, writer, and speaker from England who has lost his hearing. As he tells you about his journeys, you get to see the world through his eyes. You get to see the beauties of the Amazon, Africa, Thailand, and the Philippines, but you also get to see their horrors. You learn a lot through this book. Not only is this a travelogue, but it is also a textbook, telling you the history of the country, interesting facts about it, describing its people, and how each is growing.
First Adventure, The Amazon
He starts his journey in the Amazon in January of 2004. As he explained on (literally) page one, he wanted “to experience first-hand the Amazon rainforest in order to understand both more of its significance to whole-earth ecology, and how it and the people who live there are being exploited, mercilessly.” What he finds and what you'll learn is fascinating and frightening.
Its Horrors Told in a Beautiful Way
One is the ecosystem of the Amazon and if you take away one thing, the whole system can and will be thrown off. For example, Mr. Forester mentions, as he’s traveling down one of the plethora of tributaries in the Amazon, how he notices dead trees in the river. Elcio, Mr. Forester’s guide, tells him that termites are the cause of those dead trees. We then learn that there were anteaters in the forest who “kept the termite numbers down.” But then hunters (outsiders) came and preyed upon the anteaters since they were so easy to grab. From there, their numbers diminished while the termites grew. They, then, devoured the trees, killing them one by one. As Mr. Forester states, “It is my first lesson on the effects of imbalance in the eco-structure created by thoughtless intervention of those who know little of the dynamic equilibrium of the rainforest.” And there is more to come.
However, there is beauty in this entry in the form of Mr. Forester’s description of the Amazon. He does an amazing job of making you feel like you are there with him. His descriptions may be somber, but they are gorgeously written. I especially love how he gives the rainforest life. Literally life.
“Such vessels penetrate with ease to the heart of the continent through this aquatic artery that pumps the lifeblood of the planet so unassumingly.”
“I am beginning to understand how everything in this region has to account for the breathing of the river, its inhalation and exhalation taking it from low water to high and back again each year.”
“The forest is sleeping soundly now, the screeching and the knocking, the calling and the crying, subdued to sapient silence for a few short hours before dawn.”
Onto The Next One
From there he goes onto visit South Africa, Thailand, and the Philippines. However, the Philippines isn’t just another adventure. His visit to this up and coming country was a tour for him as he got to talk about his poetry and how he became a poet. Whenever he was asked, “How do I become a poet like you?” his response was spot on, “By connecting with the Poet, the spark of divine creativity that dwells in all of us, which we access in the silence.” I think the same could be said for writers as well!
"A picture is worth a thousand words."
While traversing the next three countries, he continues to tell their history, their horrors, but you also get to see their beauties. Not just with his descriptions though. One of the main features of One Journey that I love is the pictures Mr. Forester took throughout his explorations. You truly get to see the world through his eyes. Some of my favorites are a picture of a sloth sleeping in a tree in the Amazon (because I love sloths), the saying “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” from Langston Hughes on the floor of the District 6 Museum in South Africa, and Mr. Forester shaking hands with a native in the Philippines.
Respect. Honor. Humility.
Throughout this novel, not only do you learn and see these four different countries, but you also learn more about Mr. Forester. You learn more about his deafness, about his hearing dog, Matt, which he wrote a book about called If It Wasn’t For That Dog (another book to add to my mile long TBR list), and about his journey into enlightenment. However, you also get to see how respectful and humble he is. One of the more prominent examples is the picture he took with the native. This man stands outside, in the sun, waiting for people to take pictures with him everyday. That’s his job.
After being persuaded by his fellow travelers, Mr. Forester went over to the man to take a picture with him. As he tells the story, “He poses with his spear pointed to me and bids me do the same to him with the other spear. I do not want to participate in such a parody of violence. Instead, I point my spear up, away from him and take his hand, holding his eyes with my own. This elicits a broad, toothless smile of obvious delight. Cameras click. Namaste. I honour in this man that which is eternal.”
How beautiful is that?!
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book. Whether you are a traveler, love to read non-fiction books, or want to discover something different in your own reading journey, Michael Forester’s One Journey is the book for you. I must say, it was a little weird for me to not read a book with a created world, fictionalized characters, and made up stories, but it was truly refreshing. It was nice to let my imagination rest this month and enter the realm of reality.
If you would like to learn more about Mr. Forester and his books, including One Journey, please check out his website.
Policies & Disclosure
Please remember I am not getting paid to write this review. I am just a fan and fellow author helping out another great author. To learn more, please check out my Policy page. Also, I would love to hear what you think of this review and of the book, if you’ve read it. You can either comment below (please read my “Comments Policy” on the Policy page before doing so) or contact me.
The photos featured in this post are my photos. The first is my copy of One Journey by Michael Forester. The second is my “signature photo”, me with my copy of this eye-opening book.
**This post was originally published on October 2, 2019**