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Out of Mind - A new book by Joe French, Available to Order Now

“On a calm day, the surface of the lochan would capture and amplify silence. The surrounding trees would hold it there in place. Within this space, waves of sound could unwind and unravel into distinct layers, separating the hum of nature from the distant rumble of civilisation, broken only by the squawk of a jay or the splash-landing of a duck. It was easy to miss these subtleties when lost in my thoughts. Tuning in to this pristine now was the truest way to draw me out of the horrific then.”

The contrast between sound and silence plays a significant role in Joe French’s debut book: Out Of Mind. He writes as both victim and observer of trauma, providing an acutely immediate account of the events he has experienced, with a fragile honesty. Trauma made more bearable by meditation and the mindfulness of barefoot running: Joe’s spiritual and physical connection to nature and the ground beneath his feet.

“A deep, thunderous roar began to echo all around. It was impossible to locate, but it was growing louder, as if the mountains were collapsing above me…I heard myself cry out as Base Camp began disappearing under a dark shroud, expanding ever upwards and outwards. Within seconds the fierce shockwave had hit me and I was blown off my feet. As I crouched over my camera, something screamed past my head, and I braced myself for impact.”

Out of Mind documents four separate traumatic experiences: The first free ascent of Don’t Die of Ignorance, Ben Nevis, in 2008; the 2014 avalanche at Everest Base Camp; the 2015 Nepal earthquake; and threading through all of these: Joe’s wife Julie’s battle with cancer. It describes how Joe harnesses mindfulness and barefoot running to quieten the noise of those compound traumas. In his own words, it is a book about many things: the healing power of nature, spirituality, consciousness and death, our connection to the Earth and feeling grounded.

Joe French

Joe French