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Learning from Hannah
Secrets for a Life Worth Living
by William H. Thomas, M.D.

From the Prologue

When I was a boy, my eyes were open to the magic in this world. I knew that if I jumped high enough, I could touch the sun, the moon, and the stars. They belonged to me and I loved them. Unfortunately, my tendency to daydream exasperated my teachers. I was a poor student and their complaints were frequent. “He doesn’t pay attention!” “He never finishes his homework!” “He wastes time!” “Why isn’t he living up to his potential?”
I’d like to say I defied their calls for conformity and denied them their victory, but I did not. A child’s imagination is no match for adults armed with good intentions. They taught me that my sun was a blast furnace, my moon a cold, dead rock, and my stars far beyond my reach. They cleansed me of my misconceptions, and the magic disappeared.
Ultimately, I embraced their faith in the majesty of science, and as converts often do, I became a fanatic. I earned a bachelor of science degree in biology, summa cum laude, and then a medical degree from Harvard. As a young physician, I believed that science would conquer all. Every corner of the human body, every crevice of the Earth, even the farthest reaches of the cosmos would yield their secrets to the scientific method, I was sure. It was only a matter of time.
All that confidence is gone now. It has been shattered and washed away.
My wife Jude and I had anticipated productive but commonplace lives when we married. Instead, we were torn from our world and transported by forces beyond our understanding to and from a place where magic lives in the hearts of everyone. Our old life, the people we were, the person I was taught to be—all of that is gone.
No scientist will ever be able to explain where we were. No rational explanation can be made to fit the facts. We entered, lived in for a year, and learned to love a land called Kallimos. We trod its paths, worked its soil, breathed its air, and drank its water. The desire to return to Kallimos has burned in our hearts since the night we left its shores. We want what we cannot have.
I do not know how or why we were chosen to travel there. I do know that Kallimos made Jude and me into new people. It was there that we received gentle instruction in the art of repairing our souls. We opened our hearts and our minds and, in doing so, we found new lives to live. We have set aside our former strivings and have taken up new work that is more meaningful and rewarding than anything we could have imagined. We have learned how to build a better world for our elders and ourselves.
We can teach you. We shall teach you, but first you must listen to our story. For me, the hardest part is finding the courage to tell this story. I am afraid you’ll think that I’m crazy or at least deluded, that you’ll dismiss my journal as a fraud, the product of an overheated imagination. Ten years ago, I would have done the same. After all, who has time for magical tales of adventure when real life is pressing in from all sides? Jude and I used to believe that the truth was the truth only when it was clothed in numbers and facts. We were wrong. The people of Kallimos taught us that the truth—that wisdom—comes to us dressed in stories. When we dismiss the stories, we deny ourselves the wisdom they contain, and our lives are the poorer for our foolishness.
Deciding to tell a story and knowing how to tell it are two different things. The people of Kallimos make it seem so easy. I find it very hard. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rewritten this tale. In early drafts, I thought it would be best if I told you about our old lives. I described the small towns where we grew up, and I introduced our parents and siblings. I even described our first loves and heartbreaks. But all of the commonplace, perfectly normal events that made up our old lives did nothing to prepare us for what was to come. They do not explain what we have become. Perhaps the only way for you to understand how Kallimos has changed us is to read my journal. But before that, I will tell you how Jude and I met and what led us to sail toward Montserrat.
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