How do you approach your life? Does it seem as if every day is drudgery as you go about your work and responsibilities? Are you sleepwalking through and missing things along the way? Are you living life to the fullest or is your life so full that you barely feel like you are living at all?
Each year in our lives is one more trip around the sun, another part of the journey towards something. We have a choice of how we’re going to live and what we will do during that trip around the sun. We can simply exist, collect stuff, and move inevitably towards our own demise, or we can look at things differently, seeking adventure and experiences, seeking to inspire and encourage along the way.
In his book, “A Trip Around the Sun,” pastor, speaker, and author, Mark Batterson, writes that he has, “reoriented almost all of my life goals so they involve someone besides me, because I don’t want to cross the finish line by myself.” In keeping with that, he takes a different approach towards this book as each chapter is composed of two parts: Mark’s story and Dick Foth’s, his mentor, story. They talk about their various journeys apart from each other and also how their relationship has intersected and influenced the other’s.
Batterson writes, “Adventure doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be intentional.” We don’t stumble upon adventure, it’s a choice that we make, it’s one decision at a time. The overall theme of not only seeking adventure but also of collecting experiences rather than stuff is pervasive throughout this book. People are the things in which to invest, not stuff or things to be discarded and disposed of when we are gone. We want to live on after we are gone and we do that when we invest ourselves in other people. As Batterson writes, “Our lives are not just measured in minutes. They are measured in moments – moments when the minutes stand still. And it’s those defining moments that define our lives! Life becomes an adventure when we start seeing the miraculous in the mundane.” We accumulate experiences rather than stuff because experiences, “are the currency of a life well lived.”
Throughout the book, as both Foth and Batterson share their stories, they write about how they have shared so many experiences with each other, but also with their children and others, people whom they have met along the way in their journeys around the sun, people in whom they have invested. One of the key aspects of this book is that they both understand the importance of not only the relationships that they have with others, but also the relationship that they have with God. Staying connected to God and continuing to deepen that relationship will result in dreaming bigger dreams, having grander visions, seeking more adventure. There are moments when some might fear that the authors are heading off into an existentialistic New Age philosophy of life, that they are simply promoting a positive psychology, health-and-wealth, everybody feel good approach towards life, but they always reel it back to what’s important and why we need to live this way. They always reel it back towards the importance of God’s place in the story, or our place in the story of God.
The theme of collecting experiences is weaved through the various relationships that people have in their lives with their spouses, their children, their co-workers, and their mentors. The authors stress the importance of finances and how we spend our money, of learning and the need to be constantly working on the “five-and-a-half inch world between our ears.” They talk about the fact that people are “books with skin on them” and how important it is to invest in people, seeing their potential and sometimes pushing them to be what you can see they can be.
Having read multiple books by Batterson, I have always been fascinated by his story. There are so many times while reading this book that I thought, “I could hang with this dude.” His solid and engaging writing style often left me feeling as if he had just expressed some of my own thoughts and had somehow expressed it the exact way that I would have had I put it on paper. Both Foth and Batterson are engaging writers, but Batterson has an uncanny way of inspiring me to do more, to be better, to try more, and to live fuller, not because of who he is, but because of the One that he keeps pointing to. He shares his spiritual insights in a very humbling and authentic way, admitting that even he has felt that he hasn’t been ready to do the very things that God called him to do and saying, “don’t wait until you are ready. If you do, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life!”
As I look at my next trip around the sun, I will choose adventure by continuing to change my perspective of people. I will see them as books with skin on them, I will see them as investments, I will see them as a legacy. As I journey around the sun this time around, I will seek to collect experiences and find people with whom I can share those experiences.
If you want to rethink the way that you look at your next trip around the sun, then this book is a must read. If you want to choose to collect experiences rather than stuff, then Batterson will inspire you to do just that. Go ahead, rethink that next trip, choose adventure, choose experiences, and see just how different your life will be.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)