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From there, Halliburton went around world and began his life of adventure and discovery. Incidentally, he managed to rescue Irving who accompanied him at least in early stages of trip.
Like other great men of past, Halliburton had that wonderful gift of merging his real life experience with vicarious life experiences he obtained through his vast reading. A voracious reader from time he was very young, Halliburton knew his history and his geography. For him these were living, breathing subjects and a vital part of his life. For him – as it should be for us – history is alive and eternal and speaks to us now with all its epic heroes, romance. This makes him much more than a casual tourist:
“The Taj Mahal had been deified in my mind ever since that childhood day when I had first looked upon an oil painting of fairy tomb and read immortal story of its creation. It had always been a dream castle to me, something so fabulous it could not have dimensions and weight and location; something so lovely it could not exist outside of picture-books. Poring for hours at a time over these very books I had come to revere this building above all others….All my adventures in India up to this time I had known to be only preludes to great final adventure—the actual sight and touch of Taj.”
Similarly, in The Flying Carpet, as Halliburton enters Jerusalem, he sets stage by recounting much of Old Testament Biblical drama surrounding city. He invokes New Testament as he wanders shores of Sea of Galilee, and cites verse of Byron and Browning when he goes swimming in Grand Canal in Venice. This is obviously a man who knew how to read. He read, but more than that, he saw himself as a participant in history – or at least an observer, a close observer – of continual drama of history which is still going on today.
History, friends, need not be same topic you were punished with in school and which you learned to dread. History is study of life itself. If you hate life, then you will hate history. But if you still have a pulse, then you simply must partake of history – because history is still going on. So…what is point of all this? What does life of Halliburton mean for us today?
Surely it means, at minimum, that world is still worth seeing. It was worth seeing in last century when Halliburton lived, and will be worth seeing next century as well, because nothing, not technology, not urbanization, not internet, not jet airplanes, can quell fascinating saga of human beings, of people, of cultures and civilizations, ongoing conversation of past, present, future.
But deeper and more universally applicable point is this: life is worth living. Travel may not be your deal. Fair enough. Travel is just one aspect of a life well-lived. The point is for you to determine what you find beautiful, joyous, romantic, inspiring. And then start doing more of that and less of other stuff.
What turns you on, excites and energizes you? What is it that keeps you from degenerating into a gray mass of nothing? What will stop you from squandering tomorrow? Isn’t it high time that you stopped bland, monotonous quest for mere riches and respectability? Isn’t it time to live up to your secret lament that things you dreamed of when you were young aren’t exactly panning out?
Some day, you are going to die. You can’t change that. But before you die, you might as well live.
“Live! Live wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing. There is such a little time…”
Richard Halliburton, The Royal Road to Romance, chapter 1.
Mark Cole is an attorney living in Magnolia, Texas. His web site, Conversations From the Past, helps men to start to live lives of authentic masculinity by drawing on the life force of the great men of the past. If you – or a man you know – is serious about getting out of a rut, then visit http://www.conversationsfromthepast.com today.