Dangling Without a Rope is not just a collection of stories. It is the map of the very-unique journey of self-discovery and growth that Barbara Belmont has taken through life. In this book she invites us to sit around the campfire with her and listen as she tells us about her close encounters with wildlife of both the human and animal variety, her adventures and misadventures, and, perhaps most importantly, she shares her insights into the personal growth she experienced every step of the way.
This set this book above some of the other books of its type for me. So often stories are told almost as if they are adventure films on the big screen; we can see what's happening on the outside, but can't really see what's going on on the inside. Belmont chose instead to begin each story with a preface that indicates to the reader what she personally got out of the adventure she is about to relate; it's not all about risk taking and adrenaline highs, but about learning to be self-aware and growing and changing as a human being.
That being said, the stories in Dangling Without a Rope are interesting, exciting, and well-told, with a good balance of action and introspection. Belmont has spent her life testing boundaries, both within herself and in the societies in which she has moved. She hasn't always succeeded at what she set out to do, but one could never say she has failed either. What impressed me about this was Belmont's honesty in regards to this. She doesn't hesitate to share stories in which she fails to do something, or messes up in one way or another. The unique thing about this, though, is that she doesn't view them as failures, but as learning experiences, and it seems by the end of the book she has made peace with her weaknesses and learned to rejoice and depend upon her strengths.
Belmont ends with an afterward in which she tells the reader about her latest challenges, dealing with Lyme disease, breast cancer, and mild brain trauma. It seems as though she is facing these just as she faced all of the other challenges that have come her way throughout her life. If so, then we can be sure that no matter what, Belmont will come out a winner.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Barbara Belmont grew up on suburban Long Island. After graduating from a Catholic college in 1968, she chose a different path for her life: "While my peers were raising families and securing successful careers, I spent decades of my life in a world of outdoor challenge and excitement; single, curious about the planet, and totally mobile." She says that her greatest challenges came later in life and not out in the wide world. They are long-term Lyme disease, breast cancer, and mild traumatic brain injury. She now resides in Florida and Colorado. Visit her website.
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