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The Real Enemy is Ignorance

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on November 12, 2008 at 3:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:32 PM

I'm always amazed - at how things work out in this world. There seems to be a general serendipity about life -- from the timing of an event, to the quiet coincidence of a meeting, or the random intersection of unknown - but connected paths.

I was walking through 'Borders' recently - looking for a book to read - when an employee suggested 'Three Cups of Tea.' She couldn't say enough about it, and now I know why. I'm 100 pages in - and I can't put it down.

The story is written by a Portland author -- David Oliver Relin. He lives in Southeast Portland, but he has spent the last 93 weeks or so - resting comfortably on the New York Times best seller list. The book is currently ranked #1.

The story chronicles the journey of Greg Mortenson -- an athletic mountain climber from Montana, and it begins with Mortenson's attempt to scale K2 in Pakistan. While he loves to climb mountains, this particular expedition had special meaning -- as you'll read in the opening pages. The mountain has claimed the lives of many expert climbers over the years -- and you also quickly learn that Mortenson - was almost one of them. He survived, thanks to the remote villagers who saved his life - after he incoherently stumbled down the mountain and into their lives. It was another one of those life changing intersections that so dramatically alter our lives.

Mortenson has a revelation while he's recovering, and promises to return and build a school for the impoverished villagers who saved him. He returns to the U.S. -- puts pencil to paper, and figures it will cost $12,000 to fulfill his promise. I don't want to give anything else away -- but I can tell you, that's when the story hits its stride. It is an amazing adventure -- brilliantly written by Relin, as if he were tucked in Mortenson's back pocket - every step of the way.

Wouldn't you know -- my evening co-anchor Laural mentioned this week that she was introducing the author of a popular book - at an event on Wednesday. It was David Oliver Relin, and the book that has consumed my recent late night reading. I lent her my copy, so she could prepare - and now, she is also hooked.

Two days later, I have my copy back -- and Laural now has her own. She got to meet Relin at the event, and heard his presentation to the crowd at the St. Mary's Academy Scholarship Luncheon. It was just as impressive as the book (Laural says she hopes to blog about the experience soon).

Anxious to get back to my reading, I opened my copy - and found a note on the inside cover from Relin. It said, 'To Joe - The real enemy is ignorance.'

If you haven't read it -- call it serendipity that you found this article right now. Pick up a copy, and you'll understand why it's so successful. By the way, the popularity of the book only seems to be growing. Relin told Laural - with a wry smile - that some guy named Obama is on his heels, though.