Book: Sextant - David Barrie

Book Review: Sextant – David Barrie

Title:Sextant: A Voyage Guided by the Stars and the Men Who Mapped the World’s Oceans
Author:David Barrie
Year:2014
Importance:5/5
Accessibility:4/5
Recommended:5/5

Now, I bet you weren’t expecting to find this book here amongst the rest. I read it during a tough point in my life, right when my complex childhood trauma was unravelling and I was reading a lot of trauma books. This was a much appreciated change in subject from the heavy trauma books I was reading at the time.

And it meant just as much to me as the other books I read on my healing journey.

‘Sextant’ talks all about the ocean explorers and adventurers of days gone by, and really opened my eyes to what we take for granted these days. I’m a keen sailor who has worked on traditional ships in the past, but I learned a lot of things I had no idea about in this book.

Did you realise that most ocean explorers didn’t even have an accurate clock or watch onboard their ship until relatively recently? And without knowing the time, it’s impossible to determine your accurate location. It’s nice to be reminded of how far we’ve come in society – and how far we still have to go.

Reading about the massive risks people took back then to advance human knowledge was incredibly inspiring. The risks might be different now, but they can feel just as scary. It gives me hope that we can do the same with changing our mental health system towards the trauma-informed approach we so desperately need.

This book also made me realise we are still living in bodies with nervous systems designed for these dangerous, survival-based kinds of situations, rather than the current ones many of us now face.

Our bodies weren’t built for Zoom calls and spending our lives alone inside central-heated houses. Technology has revolutionised developments in society over even just the last decade, but our brains developed over thousands of years to a completely different environment which was based around community, connection to the earth, survival mode, and living in the present moment.

Realising this can be empowering, allowing you to be more compassionate with your struggles. It’s not us that’s ‘broken’ – it’s the world around us, so out of tune with our innate connections to each other and nature around us, which we used to have in the times of the Sextant. Now it’s up to us to rediscover that and break the cycle of trauma so many of us face, and whose families have faced for generations.

Have you read this book too? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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