Book Review: Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum

I’ve got to get better about reading. Up until last year, I read on average around 24 books a year. For every ‘contemporary’ book, I forced myself to read a ‘classic.’ Reading the Brothers Karamazov about did that in. Yes, I finished it but it was painful. Russians write like their weather…I leave the punchline to your imagination.

Today I finished Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of Ski Bum by Wayne Sheldrake. It’s a memoir…of sorts. It’s a story of a man and skiing and wrecks. Lots of wrecks. Both on and off the slopes and how he dealt and is dealing with them.

I found the book by complete accident. The kids were scavenging the public library for their books and I wandered over to the ski section. I read the forward and the intro. Laughed out loud, then teared up. I read it all in 4 days…I could have read it one but wanted to savor it a bit more. Wayne’s story of how to deal with life centers around skiing. Skiing is both his balm and his bane. His mother’s multiple attempts at happiness, his own struggles of identity often find him wrestling it out going downhill at 70 mph, often out of bounds, never wearing a helmet.

Wayne says early on how he likes to deal with the junk of life – “No goggles. No helmet…All I needed was a pair of skis. I didn’t stop for food. I didn’t stop for water. I didn’t use sunscreen. (Only [expletive] wore sunscreen.) I never worried about getting hurt.”

He talks about breaking his legs…twice. On the mountain where it took them 4 hours to get him to the hospital. The only thing keeping his foot on his body was his skin. He allows us inside the healing process. It’s messy, funny, real. He meets Jesus sometime during his open heart surgery phase…he was 32 years old then. But the book isn’t about Jesus…at least overtly. It’s about healing and hope and living in the moment with people who are just jacked up as you are but somehow together with the skiing…there is hope…and laughter…and healing.

At the end of the book, I felt like I knew Wayne. I’d like hanging out with him. I want to ski with him. Not because I could keep up with him…but because I’d want to hear more of his story.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum

  1. I don’t make myself read one of the classics – probably should. In fact I have to make myself read something other than books on leadership or spiritual growth. I just finished Robert Ludlum’s The Bancroft Strategy. Now I’m reading Tony Dungy’s bio. It’s pretty good – do I get double points for that one – spiritual and bio?

    Let us know what you’re reading. I would be interested in swapping recommendations.

    Later!

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  2. Dear Grant,
    Thanks for the read. You’re the first to mention the Jesus angle. My take is that he found me and it just took me a while he was after me all along. My faith was a gift given. I can’t take credit for finding it. He’s after all of us. The more we need Him and deny Him the more He wants us. The solution to Karma is, after all, GRACE. This can cause some aggravation in the reluctant, because, as you know, He guarantees that life will get harder after acceptance, not easier, and most people would rather believe accepting Him will make life easier. But like skiing, it’s the toughest most earned turns in life that are most meaningful. Right after I accepted Him, I became a husband and father–the most difficult and satisfying task of my life. That’s what his true gifts are: those challenges and experiences you really need to learn how He works and what makes you a meaningful contributor. Thanks again and Shine on.
    bWayno

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  3. Wow…

    Mike – I’ve read Dungy’s book. It’s good…there are some great leadership nuggets in there.

    Wayne – WOW…That author visits the blog and comments!!! I’m humbled.

    And great theology of Jesus finds us, GRACE is the answer to KARMA.

    If ever in Denver and want a Fat Tire…it’s on me.

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