PERIPLUS: A Review of Passage to Nirvana by Lee Carlson


I was compelled to begin this review having not yet finished the last page. Perhaps it’s that while the “end” is important in some way, no less – or perhaps even more significant and relevant – is the inspiration at any moment in Passage to Nirvana.

An unconventional autobiography, we come to know Carlson as he comes to know himself again after an ironically-charged event leaves him to live a life transformed irreparably by Traumatic Brain Injury. It is the story of a writer, now struggling with writing, writing to heal, writing to learn, writing to share the specific and the universal of our human condition. Carlson’s observations and narrations undulate, integrating the realms of life – inspiration, challenge, spirituality, reality, cause+effect, expanding one’s experience of mind, body and soul. It is in his authenticity, his meeting and telling of truths, in this unselfconsciousness that one finds one’s own comfort in being, in one’s own (auto)biography and condition.

I knew Lee prior to this book. But, I did not know him well. And wish I had had the opportunity. Our paths crossed through the familial lines, sometimes leading to light conversations, but as I recall, mostly short and simple pleasantries or greetings. I was not aware of the depth of his Zenness, the richness of his life and, I am embarrassed to say, that I had not read anything he had written in from the previous incarnation of his writing.

We often revisit the past, regretting missed opportunities, lamenting unfortunate circumstances or grieving over choices, but hopefully we come to see that every event truly occurred is in its appropriate time.

I hope that you choose to open the pages of Carlson’s wisdom and that which it stirs within.

Andrea Shewchuk

 

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