Verdict: TO HOLD THE SUN is at least an interesting look at human psychology, and at best a useful discussion of how it can be manipulated, worked with, and built upon to produce healthier habits and a better life.
A journalist is sent to interview a mysterious man with interesting ideas about the brain, its functions,and how to take advantage of its capabilities and limitations to work positive change in one’s life.
Chas Watkins is not entirely happy with his life, or with his career as an investigative reporter, but he does love scuba diving. Therefore, when his boss offers him an opportunity to travel to Roatan Island, a paradise for divers, he jumps on it. His task is to interview a mysterious man named Paul Haletine, known for using handstands as a route to enlightenment and inner growth, to find out how his self-help system works, and to discover more about the man and his past. He meets Paul, becomes friends with him, and takes on his challenge, attempting to learn more about Paul’s techniques and to use them himself.
TO HOLD THE SUN is a richly detailed book describing one man’s experience over a period of about a week, but it is also a book that explains a few useful techniques for improving one’s life. Paul is careful to provide detailed explanations of why and how his techniques work – or at least, why he believes they work – without any need for belief in mystic energies or cosmic connections. They require some effort and time, but no special qualifications or monetary investment. They are also readily testable, requiring no blind faith whatsoever, and their effects can be felt fairly quickly. He focuses on enjoying the journey of self-improvement for its own sake, and on harnessing both the strengths and weaknesses of the brain to make lifelong changes.
The ideas here are not terribly new or unique; it feels in places rather like a mix of modern psychology with Buddhist thought and mental practice. At times, too, it is almost as if the book doubles as a tourist brochure for Roatan, focusing as much on the scenery as the self-help. The pictures, for example, are all of island views or diving experiences, which are only minimally relevant to the text. A quick edit might tighten up the writing; while it is generally good, the book could stand to lose, for example, the occasional misused word – e.g. “affectively” for “effectively” – or run-on sentence: “There were very few clouds in the sky tonight, but there were some at the horizon, as the sun dipped down, it hid behind them, and the bright orange disk never actually seemed to touch the water.”
TO HOLD THE SUN is at least an interesting look at human psychology, and at best a useful discussion of how it can be manipulated, worked with, and built upon to produce healthier habits and a better life.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader