by Miriam Knight May 05, 2015
There is no denying that a good portion of "Through the Flames" makes for difficult reading. Whether describing the horrible plane crash that he barely survived or the subsequent and still-ongoing recovery from the burns that should have killed him, author Allan Lokos's subject matter is at once horrific and riveting. It is also brutally graphic; there is no room for sentimentality here. Much of the first half of the book reads like a daily journal of pain, surgeries, hope won and lost, fear, relief and redemption -- and all of it without an ounce of self-pity. If Lokos's account isn't the epitome of prolonged human suffering, I don't know what is. But it's this very suffering that Lokos writes about so eloquently and honestly. The utter lack of self-pity is perhaps one of the most shocking things about this book.
Lokos has stated that he probably would not have survived his ordeal if not for his years as a practicing Buddhist and its emphasis on mindfulness meditation. How he actually put these tools to work during the long recovery process is at the heart of this book. If you can stomach the detailed accounts of how he endured the painful onslaught of a burn-ravaged body, the second half describes how he moved through the pain into a wider understanding and compassion for the entire experience. This is where the story blooms from the purely personal to the universal. After all, what more proof does one need that things like meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, as well the exploration of the true nature of pain are beneficial than to bear witness to the positive effects of such practices?
Through the Flames is a beautiful book, one that you will likely not easily forget.