The Story Of The Book That Found Me
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The Story Of The Book That Found Me

Here is a story about an adventure, some coincidences, and a book that found me, which you should totally read!

The Story Of The Book That Found Me
Angellina Fouts

It was early in June of 2020, three months into the Covid-19 quarantine. I had just finished my spring semester courses, all of which were online. For the first time since I was 16, I was unemployed. For once in my life, I had more free time than I knew what to do with. I felt uninspired and restless. Something else, somewhere else, was calling my name, and I was longing to answer.

At the time, I was living with my best friend Angie. She had just quit her job due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As soon as I decided where I was going, I said:

"I'm taking a spontaneous road trip to Virginia. I'm leaving in the next few days, want to come?"

That Tuesday, we packed the car and hit the road on a 6 hour drive from South Jersey to Harrisonburg, Virginia. We spent four days and three nights there with no itinerary whatsoever. The only thing I wanted to do was to see the Blue Ridge Mountains; anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.

We checked into the hotel late in the afternoon. We dropped our bags, exchanged "ooohs" and "ahhhhs", let out shrieks of excitement, and hopped back in the car. Next stop: Skyline Drive. After a boisterous hour of driving, around 7:00pm we reached the north entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Just minutes into the densely wooded Skyline Drive, we approached a winding turn. To our left, walls carved out of the rocky mountainside hugged the road. To our right, a clearing in the foliage revealed to us our first breathtaking view to the great Blue Ridge Mountains. I did not say a word. Adrenaline inflated my body like helium in a balloon, and I experienced the elevated feeling of what I can only describe as a "body high". I have never felt anything that can compare to that feeling - seeing the mountains from the edge of one, for the first time.

At the first overlook, we face-timed our loved ones back home. We didn't have words to describe what we felt, but we wanted to share it with everyone. We stopped at every overlook along the way, snapping photos with our phones and a polaroid camera, picking wildflowers, breathing the fresh mountain air, and taking time to be present and absorb everything we were experiencing.

The sinking sun painted the skyline vibrant orange and pink, while the blue sky above us peeked through the wispy sheet of clouds that was almost close enough to touch. When the time came, we picked a scenic overlook, set up our blankets, and watched the sun disappear beyond the mountains.

Angellina Fouts

We sat on the hood of the car as the sky grew dark, and watched constellations appear. The stars were so bright, I was able to capture the big dipper with my phone camera. We went to sleep that night, different people than we had been that same morning.

The Big DipperGianna Palermo

I'm not a morning person by any means, but on Wednesday morning I woke up early with no alarm, ready go where the day would take us. It was a warm, sunny day, and we had no plan in store. Once breakfast was out of the way, we popped into a shop, just minutes from the hotel, that caught our interest the day before. The young guy behind the counter was friendly and easy to talk to, so we talked and talked and talked, without checking the time, because we had nowhere to be and nothing to do… yet. We told him we were on a road trip from New Jersey.

"Where are you headed?" He asked.
"Here!" We both laughed.
"But why Harrisonburg, of all places?"

He was the first of many people to ask this question. To them it was home, not a dream vacation, but to us, it was exactly where we wanted to be. At the time, I would have said the reason why we were staying in Harrisonburg was simply because it was a convenient drive from the hotel to Shenandoah. Looking back on the question now, however, I realize the "WHY" behind it was not something I could have known in that moment, but rather something I have learned since then.

One thing I have picked up from the traveling I have done in my life is this: If you have a question, ask the locals. It is easy to look things up on your phone, and most popular places have helpful reviews, but those type of recommendations tend to be mainstream. Angie and I knew nothing about Harrisonburg or what to do with the rest of our day. Who would? A local.

So, we told him we had no plans for the day and were looking for an adventure with some nice scenery.

"There's this blue hole about 20 minutes away in Hinton. You won't find it on the GPS, but it's a beautiful spot and the locals love it."

He explained how to get there, and we were off. I pinpointed the body of water on the map. We drove along the road, missed it a couple times, made some illegal K-turns, and parked on the sketchy slope that was the side of the road, by the only other car around. We tried to find a trail down to the blue hole, but couldn't. Two people appeared with wet hair and towels draped over their shoulders, so we asked them if they could show us where the trail entrance was.

They pointed to where the gravel turned to orange dirt and said:

"It's all yours. We were just down there. The water is freezing, but it's so refreshing."

It was a steep, rocky climb down and over to water. The rocks were slippery and unstable, and the clay was muddy. From the trail, we could hear the rush of the running water. Where the ground flattened, enormous rocks stood out of the water. Leaning on the largest rock was a tall ladder made entirely from thick tree branches. The ladder was worn smooth from use, but stood sturdy and strong. We climbed up and saw the blue hole as a whole from above. To the right and left, shallow running water met up with a large, turquoise blue hole.

Still being the only ones there, we explored the area for a bit, set our belongings and towels out on a large, flat rock, and I jumped in. The icy water was deeper than it seemed, and I sunk down into the depths before franticly resurfacing. I gasped, in shock at just how cold the water was, and located the nearest rock to climb out onto. The water was refreshing, indeed. It was still morning, warm but not hot enough to want to go back in the water just yet. There was absolutely no cell phone reception, so we sat, enjoying the blue hole and the sounds of running water and nature, until the afternoon sun came out to play.

A patch of sun peeked onto a small, pebbly beach on the other side of the water at the edge of the woods. We crossed the rocky rapids and claimed our spot on the small beach, where we had a direct view of the large rocks and trail that lead to the road. The sun warmed our skin and dried our wet hair.

The jumping rockGianna Palermo

By noon, the blue hole was bustling with life: families, couples, groups of college age kids, you name it. One group of about a dozen kids in their twenties brought music and coolers. People started barbecuing, socializing, drinking, and jumping from the large rock into the water. We became friendly with a trio and their dog. They were the first group of people to arrive, and their dog, Mr. Sanchez took and liking to us. We shared easy, fun conversation with them throughout the day.

Angie and I laid back and watched the college boys show off, laughing as we decided the ringleader "must be a Brad". Soon enough, a boy from the college group intermingled with the people I was with, then made it a point to start conversation with me. His name was Ryan, he lived an hour away, it was his 22nd birthday, and he and his friends from JMU were celebrating. I explained that I was here from New Jersey with my best friend, and we found this blue hole by asking someone what to do with our day. We continued talking for hours, jumped off the rock, swam, laughed, and celebrated.

"But why Harrisonburg?" He must've asked me a handful of times.
"I just found a hotel here that was near the mountains."

We both shrugged, amazed how we each found ourselves in the right place at the right time to meet one another. Before parting ways, he asked if he could put his number in my phone, and said if we didn't have plans later, we could join them for more birthday festivities.

Angie and I left on a quest for lunch, and it began to rain. Back at the hotel, we showered and waited for the weather to clear. Ryan told me everyone was going to his friend's house to continue his birthday celebration, and we were invited. The idea of going to stranger's house made me uneasy, but I felt like Ryan and I had so much more to talk about. His friend's house turned out to be 5 minutes from where we were staying, so we went.

He and I talked all night. When we weren't talking, his friends and I were.

"But why Harrisonburg?"
"1 came for the mountains."

When it came time to part ways, I felt like I was saying goodbye to long lost friends. Ryan told me to stay in touch and come back sometime, and I said I would.

So I did.

Angie and I made the most of our last two days in Virginia. I fell in love with the state as a whole and imagined myself living there someday, maybe in the near future for Law School.

Once we were home, my relief was short lived, and it wasn't long before I became restless, again. I felt like I had unfinished business to tend to.

About a week or so later, I went back and visited Ryan in Salem, Virginia. He showed me his hometown, schools, favorite restaurants, the Parkway Brewery, the Roanoke Star, the mall, and took me on a scenic drive through mountains and farmland to a hidden treasure. We walked through the woods to a rocky overlook above a train track, miles of land with cattle, and mountains all around. The train passed beneath us and we watched it chug away until it disappeared in the distance. We got to know each other more and more each day. We spent time with his friends walking the town, bar hoping, and talking around a fire. I got a taste of what life could be like somewhere in Virginia.

Walking the tracksRyan Bell

On my last day there, Ryan gave me a blue book he had mentioned in one of our previous conversations. He told me it was passed on to him from someone, and it changed his life.

When I arrive back home, I unpacked my things. I put the blue book on my bookshelf, in between my green and blue books, with the intent to read it sooner rather than later.

Fast forward.

About a month goes by, it's mid July, and my cousins from Georgia are in town. It was the first time seeing them in 10 years. I spent as much time with them as I could, and plenty of conversation ensued. In one of those conversations, my cousin Chelsea told me about a book I should read called The Celestine Prophecy. I typed the title in my phone notes and we carried on. They invited me to Georgia, any time. I took them up on that offer a month later on a solo road trip (but that's a story for another time).

When I got home, something told me to look on my bookshelf. Without thinking, I reached for the blue book and pulled it out. In white capitalized letters, the title read "THE CELESTINE PROPHECY".

The Celestine Prophecy on my shelfGianna Palermo

I opened it up and began to understand the answer to the question that followed me throughout my first experience in Virginia:

"Why Harrisonburg?"

Everything about each coincidence that took place – the restlessness that led to the road trip, that led to Harrisonburg, that led to the blue hole, that led to Ryan, that led to the book – began to make perfect sense.

The book found me by coincidence, but not by mistake, at just the right time in my life.

It started with a man who felt a restlessness, who went to the Virginia mountains seeking direction in his life (wow, that sounds familiar...). One coincidence led to another, and eventually the snowball of coincidences gained enough momentum to send the man's life down a meaningful path of discovery, awareness and purpose.

"At this moment in history, we seem to be especially attuned to our own life process – to those coincidental events that have meaning in our lives and that occur at just the right time, and bring fourth just the right kind of individuals, to suddenly send our paths in a new, inspiring direction."
– James Redfield, Authors Note in The Celestine Prophecy

The Celestine Prophecy is a #1 New York Times Bestseller (Here is the link).

Next week I will explore the 9 Insights from the book that have changed my life.

Until then, here's a teaser:

"The First Insight… always surfaces unconsciously at first, as a profound sense of restlessness."
- James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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