Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: To Hold the Sun by Chas Watkins


This delightful and engaging story outlines the experiences of a young, poor, and disillusioned reporter who is enticed to do a series of articles about Paul, an unconventional philosopher and motivational speaker. In lieu of payment, he gets to travel to and dive on Roatan, arguably one of the most beautiful, pristine islands in the Caribbean. Through a series of meetings, the reporter gets to know Paul's innermost philosophies. He learns an alternate way of living from a man who strives to perfect handstands on a dock and practices the art of happiness. 

The author developed the book as a guide to help his children live their lives in a way that would allow them to enjoy the journey. Drawing on wildly diverse disciplines including stoicism, neuroscience, skepticism, behavioral economics, and spirituality; the reader is taken on a journey that exposes the author's philosophy of life. He demonstrates that happiness is indeed a choice.

All places detailed on Roatan exist and are more beautiful than described. Color Photos (if supported) are by kind permission of Shawn Jackson.



I don't know if my parents ever learned to really enjoy life.  Not that they were sad, morose people ... they were just so bound by responsibility, and being what they felt was expected of them.  I think my father was beginning to catch a glimpse of the possible - then he had a stroke at the age of 47.  Not that all responsibility is a bad thing.  It's necessary.  But there's a reason they say "all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy".

What Mr. Watkins has done is shown us one way to begin celebrating life and enjoying it while we are here on this rock.

Many of us seem to be motivated by negative emotions - fear, anger, and the like.

One of the first lessons Paul Haletine shared with Mr. Watkins was how to manage those emotions, using a very personal experience.  Seems at an informal gathering the previous evening, Chas was mispronouncing the host's name for most of the evening; he was actually calling the man 'a dog'.  So, Chas was *ahem* a little embarrassed and maybe aggravated that they had let it go on so long.  Suffice it to say, by the end of the exercise, Chas was no longer feeling a bitter sting.

The closer I got to the end of the book, the more I felt like I was going to have to return from my own 'island vacation' (ok, I know it was a working vacation for Mr. Watkins).  I didn't want to go.  So I determined to go through the book again and work through those lessons and exercises for myself.

"To Hold the Sun" is part 'how-to' and part "WOOHOO"!  Let me explain.

The book gives some very practical and useful instructions on how to do things that make our lives a lot more enjoyable.  "Sun" is also part sheer and joyful celebration of life.  I want both of those things - I need more how-to and more woohoo in my life.  Thanks go Mr. Watkins' book, I now have one way of getting those very things!



Chas Watkins was born and raised in England and is a naturalized Australian. His children are all American, which he finds very confusing. He moved to Roatan nine years ago. He has an unused degree in electronics from Hull University in England and has somehow managed to work for many fine and good companies without being fired.

After the raging madness of the dotcom world in California, he moved to Roatan to settle with his family. Chas currently pretends to work as a Realtor and Radio DJ. He reads an awful lot, watches the sunrise and sunset every day and consumes way too much coffee. He runs on the beach in the mornings, practices handstands, and lives happily on Roatan with his cat Gary and the children who have not yet deserted him. Even on his best day he is nothing like his character Paul, but strives to be so.

Occasionally he "likes to dance as if no one is watching" which is ironic as his dancing makes people stare. If you are really unlucky, you may meet him, and whatever you do, don't offer him a drink as he is a very rude and uninteresting person.


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of "To Hold the Sun" from the author and publisher via iRead Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)

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