New book chronicles local author Todd Stuart’s spiritual healing
Ryan Summerlin December 4, 2012
Summit County-based author Todd Stuart has a tale to tell.
He has lived in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, in a handmade hut, off and on, since the summer of 1990, while trying to heal from the loss he experienced after a divorce.
"I built the shelter in the mountains above Midway to live there instead of an expensive apartment so I could pay child support on ski-patrol wages," Stuart said during an interview with The Park Record. "I sold my truck and camper and build a hut in the woods and skied and biked back and forth to work for 10 years.
"I needed to ski. If I let myself go to town and get three jobs and become a bitter divorcee, I would never heal from it all," he said.
During those commutes, Stuart, a father of three, began thinking about his life and of ways to improve his situation.
"I was doing what Buddha calls ‘walking meditation,’ albeit I did it unknowingly at first," he said. "But as time went by and I focused my understanding on why divorce happens and why children are scarred by no fault of their own when their parents split up."
Stuart also zeroed in on how he needed to forgive himself and his ex-wife for afflicting that pain on their children.
"I also sought my kids’ forgiveness as well," he said.
He began writing down his thoughts, and, before he knew it, he had written his first book, "Nobody Owes You Tomorrow," which kickstarted a series of other published and introspective writings that continued with "How Many Lives You Have," "Words Are Cheap" and his latest, "To Walk a Soft Path."
Stuart will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., to sign "To Walk a Soft Path," on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m.
"All the books comprise one chronological story and I try to make the transitions from one book to the other seamless, because at some point, there will be six or seven volumes, I’m planning to sell the whole set together," he said. "It’s been a huge adventure that is still going on and I know I have to cut it off at some point."
Over the past 20 years, Stuart has found that it took him a lot of time to decide to move forward.
"Repentance and forgiveness is a spiritual rebirth, and everyone moves at their own pace," he said. "I do remember that there was a tipping point where the healing began to gain momentum and I made sure I made notes of them in my books."
After pausing, Stuart read a passage from "To Walk a Soft Path."
"’This 20-year saga has been, to my pleasure, to share the journey with my readers to understand the path that I pursued as a spiritual significance beneath the surface,’" he read. "’Much like breaking trail in deep snow up the mountainside of the American West, the soft path is very difficult and is exposed to avalanches and other hazards and is truly a stairway to Heaven on Earth.’"
After he closed the book, he said he was lucky to have made this far.
" I’ve leaned a lot about the spiritual lessons that back-country skiing can teach you," he said. "Team sports, they say, teach life lessons. Back-country skiing does the same thing. You can learn that if you want to be a nice guy, you better be ready to be taken advantage of, because people will do that."
In doing that, you can become a karma mirror to those who do take advantage of you, Stuart explained.
"You can learn from them and you can teach them that we’re all here to share," he said. "There are predatory people out there who have that lesson yet to learn, and it’s our blessing to help them learn it."
Stuart got the idea to write down his thoughts from the late poet and nature artist Everett Ruess.
From when he was 16 until he disappeared at age 20, Ruess wandered through the deserts of the Southwest and while he traveled, he wrote poetry, prose and painted to share his appreciation of the beauty, Stuart said.
"Everett and I have a spiritual connection," Stuart said. "We are both extremely moved by natural beauty, and our obligation is to help others treasure that beauty and protect it."
As Ruess did with his writings, Stuart doesn’t keep any secrets from his readers.
"I tell the story as it happens, and it’s not all pretty," Stuart said. "I’m a human being and make mistakes all the time. So there are some ugly truths in the books, but when people read them, they will come to know me."
Writer Todd Stuart, author of "To Walk a Soft Path," will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., for a book signing on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.dollysbookstore.com/events-4/