At age 50, media critic, journalist, and author Jon Katz purchases a cabin in a remote area of upstate New York in order "to redefine and lend new meaning to his life." With his wife busy in her own career and his daughter preparing to go off to college, this suburban New Jersey seeker heads off to his retreat with his two Labradors and the writings of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, his spiritual mentor.
This ruminative and epiphanous book will appeal to aging baby boomers with its poignant observations on the search for meaning, the alchemy of internal change, the way people and places can be surprising spiritual teachers, and the bounties of silence and solitude. Katz's adventure gives him the leisure to ponder three basic questions: Who am I? What am I about? And who do I want to be? The answers unspool in the midst of dealing with contaminated water in his well, rodent invasions, planting gardens, and getting lost in the woods.
Katz swims in his interior life, imagines a dialogue with Thomas Merton, and is humbled by his experiences on the mountain. He tries to build new habits and rituals, and he gracefully falls into some new dreams about the future. When it is time to return to New Jersey, he's recharged, ready to face the mysteries and surprises that lie ahead of him. "Sometimes you go away so that you can come home or find out what home really means. The mountain helped with this. Change is clarifying, like getting a new pair of glasses with a better prescription." This journey of faith and change helps us all to see more clearly.