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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book:   "Riding on Empty"
Author:  Craig Stephan
Copyright:   2010
Pages:  145
Summary:      "What happens when a loved one dies--and you suddenly find yourself riding on empty?

Riding on Empty is the chronicle of an inspiring true story of two indomitable spirits: a mother who inspires her precious son to awaken to life and triumph over dyslexia and seemingly insurmountable odds to discover his authentic path and find the strength to heal from watching her tragic struggle with cancer.

Join Craig Stephan on this exhilarating tour of the Grand Canyon and beyond, as he and his wife Beth traverse the southwestern U.S. on his 1995 Electra Glide Harley Classic, looping through Sedona in search of inner peace, where he encounters a new perspective on life."

My review:

"Riding on Empty" was a risk book for me.  I have experienced the loss of a loved one by cancer, my husband; and, more recently the death of my best friend.  Craig Stephan's book about dealing with the death of his mother, therefore, made me take a second look, but I certainly didn't see how on earth I could relate to a biker guy!!  I was so wrong.  Good thing in my older years I'm determined not to let my superficial ideas and prejudices hold me back from learning something new to evaluate the world around me.  Craig Stephan has a story to tell~~and one that will encourage and enlighten others.

Mr. Stephan is a good writer whose work distinctly comes from his heart and spirit.  Throughout the book, his words continually reach to communicate with the reader. He readily shares the significance of his pain in the process; and, then the actuality of losing his mother to cancer, as well as the aftermath of grief.  I heard recently that "grief is a ride you have to take, you can't get off of it until it's over."  That is so true, and Craig Stephan gives us the ride of our lives when he shares his path with us.

How does it help him and us?  It helps because it's a testimony that we will all pass this way in our lives and we can survive it with God's help, and the help of those He puts in our lives to anchor and support us.  It helped Craig because he was surrounded by a constant of love that never left him, a foundation of faith and love from his mother that he knew lasted past death, and would be with and inside him for all eternity. It helps because Craig was given the gift and the sense of urgency to tell us his story in such a way, a simple way, that could impact the lives of those who are walking through the gates of grief.  His way works.

I learned so much about motorcycling!  It was unexpected.  I absolutely loved every second of it!  There is so much symbolism about life in the 'cycle and the trip Craig and his wife took...the 'cycle that took them.  It was just magical.  We gain much from just that reading experience.

And, Craig shares very profound descriptions like this:

"My heart was road rash, burning like skin of a biker who had just hit unforgiving pavement at high speed and slid for hundreds of feet.  I sipped my drink and tried to swallow.  I visualized road rash throughout my gut.  This is death by broken heart, I concluded.  This must be how it starts."

There are many examples of his descriptions that make you stop reading in your tracks.  One can actually feel the harshness of that pain, right?

In "Riding on Empty" this fine author is looking for an end to his grief.  He wants understanding and a resolution about the loss of his mother.  He realizes the needs a spiritual awakening.  He finds all of these things, and he blazes a trail for those who may want to listen to him and to find the same peace.

If I may, I would have one comment that wasn't explored too much by the author.  That would be the thing that is obvious to the reader and not so much expressed or perhaps "seen" by the author:  that is that much of his insecurities and needs were transferred to his wife to fill in where his mother had left a gap.  More and more during the trip he relies upon Beth to "read the map," to move the right way with him to keep the bike on the road safely, to get them entre' into the hotels, and to make decisions for their well-being.  This is mothering in its rawest form!  There are more important lifestyle examples.  So, I think Beth is responsible for much of his healing, as well.

I recommend the book particularly, of course, for those who are experiencing grief and/or the death of a loved one, for Hospices everywhere, for those who know their lives are "missing something," but they don't know what, and for those seeking a spiritual awakening.



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