Book Review: Adrift by Steven Callahan



Steven Callahan

This book was loaned to me by some friends that know I like to read sea survival stories.  I think I read it a long time ago, but I enjoyed reading it again.  It seems pretty clear that people that survive ordeals like this have an inner strength that helps them get through it.  I hope that I have that kind of strength, but that could just be fantasy on my part.  I hope I never find out the hard way.

This story is a mix of the mechanics of survival at sea, descriptions of various aspects of beauty that he observed in the midst of his ordeal, and introspection on what life is and what it takes to stay alive.  This excerpt from page 109 really spoke volumes to me. (emphasis mine)

“For the first time, I clearly see a vast difference between human needs and human wants.  Before this voyage, I always had what I needed – food, shelter, clothing and companionship – yet I was often dissatisfied when I didn’t get everything I wanted, when  people didn’t meet my expectations, when a goal was thwarted, or when I couldn’t acquire some material goody.  My plight has given me a strange kind of wealth, the most important kind.  I value each moment not spent in pain, desperation, hunger, thirst, or loneliness.  Even here, there is richness all around me.”

Maybe that’s why I read these survival stories.  To bring into focus what it really takes to stay alive when we’re not cushioned by society’s safety net, and to explore what is important and what is means to be alive.

If you like these kinds of stories, I think it’s worth your time reading.



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