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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Random Tangents: Embracing Adventures in Life is author Greg Hawk’s memoir of a life less ordinary; one in which he chose to follow his whims and desires rather than the conventional paths to work, marriage, children, and ultimately retirement. When the author graduated from high school, the war in Vietnam was ramping up and he made the decision that rather than wait to get drafted, he would join the armed forces and serve his country. Hoping to become a pilot, he soon discovered his eyesight was not perfect enough and he ended up as a meteorological technician responsible for launching weather balloons to provide information for artillery and aircraft to home in on the enemy’s position. After a year of hell, serving his country right at the frontline where rocket and mortar attacks were a daily trial, he came back not as a returning hero but as somewhat of a pariah as the US battled its conscience over their involvement in this distant conflict. Caught in a loveless marriage but with two children he adored, the author decided to indulge his passion for diving and traveling. After spending several years traveling in Asia and the South Pacific and running diving tours out of Australia, Hawk returned to the States with his new Australian wife in tow. Although involved in the construction industry, he was always drawn to adventure and the outdoors. Indulging his love of wide-open spaces, he dedicated his non-working time, along with his father and his son, to searching for lost or rumored buried treasure in the remote areas of Arizona, Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and all of the south-west of the US. Hawk reminds us constantly that it is not the destination in life that matters but rather the journey.
Random Tangents is a personal story of how life is what you make of it, what you desire it to be. For Greg Hawk that desire was not the normal nine to five drudgery of work but rather the journey to experience adventure and to follow what truly makes us happy. Although this book could be seen as a simple chronological retelling of one man’s life, albeit a life somewhat different to the average person, there is a deeper subtext and meaning to be had from this story. Hawk experienced much on his journeys, both spiritual and physical, that many of us only dream about. He never let the mundane, doubts, or even fear stand in the way of achieving what he truly wanted to discover. Was he a successful treasure hunter? You’ll have to read the book to discover that but what he did find, after being exposed to the worst that man can offer in the hell-hole that was Vietnam, was the best of the natural world, under the water and out there on the desolate plains of Arizona or wherever. Under a million stars, he found peace and purpose that most of us would happily trade our worldly possessions for. The overriding feeling one has when reading this book is that Greg Hawk is no different from you or me, and yet he made the conscious decision to live a life that was different to most of us and the benefits are evident and entwined beautifully through this narrative. You are what you think you are and life is a journey, not a destination. If we adopt these two precepts, we can also feel the intense fulfillment that Greg Hawk feels on his adventures and treasure hunts. A good and timely read for me.