Kilimanjaro and Beyond: A Life-Changing Journey
Barry Finlay with Chris Finlay
Dog Ear Publishing (2011)
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (11/11)
Reading “Kilimanjaro and Beyond, A Life Changing Journey,” provided me with further confirmation of something I already have come to firmly believe: there are two periods in a person’s life when they are most likely to feel compelled to make a difference in the world: when they are young and inexperienced; and when they are experienced and begin contemplating the meaning of their life. At age 60, accountant Barry Finlay made his own life-changing experience that drew on both the exuberance of his youth and the wisdom of his experience. He committed himself completely and simultaneously to self-discovery, and to selflessly raising funds for clean water and other resources for school children in Tanzania. He chose to do this by climbing to the peak of Kilimanjaro. His climbing companion was a fellow accountant – and his son – Chris, whose journal excerpts appear extensively throughout the book they co-authored to document their journey.
The Finlay’s book is divided into three content compartments: Finlay’s upbringing on the rural Canadian prairies, the impact of his childhood on the person he became, and its connections to what he observes in Tanzania; the planning, conditioning and climb of Kilimanjaro; and, reflections on making a difference in the lives of others. The book reads like a journal and the writing is warm, familiar and humorous. The Finlay’s are not creative non-fiction writers, so there is not the often romanticized writing one finds in many books which speak to the mystique and spiritualism of the world’s iconic mountains. There is, however, a thorough layman’s accounting of the extensive details of all phases of these incredible journeys.
No less inspiring for some readers than the story of the climb and descent of the mountain, will be the feelings of exhilaration and inspiration Finlay describes during his visit to the teachers and children at the Tanzanian school he has committed to support. His thoughts and feelings are an example of a growing movement among “ordinary people” in the world who are coming to the realization that the can, even individually, make the world better.
Barry Finlay and his son Chris have clearly made a big difference in the world. Their book, “Kilimanjaro and Beyond, A Life-Changing Journey,” will challenge all who read it to consider how they too can make a difference, not only for others, but for themselves as well. I was personally inspired by one of Barry Finlay’s closing thoughts: “Having had the opportunity to observe others make do with what they have, I am more convinced than ever that we should take the time to make a difference in our own lives so that we can enjoy everything we have for a long, long time.”