Boys want men in their lives as models of what to become, as guides along sometimes shaky paths, and as companions just for sharing. Boys need men in their lives to grow into capable, confident, nurturing men for a strong and secure society. Without realizing it, fifteen-year-old Paul Hansen found what he wanted and needed to climb from youth to manhood. In Turnaround Summer, he gives us an inside peek—with humor, sensitivity, and wisdom—of the magical results from men mentoring boys. Turnaround Summer calls all men to ensure a bright future for our world by becoming that guide to manhood our boys need.
Welcome, Paul. Turnaround Summer is a memoir, a coming-of-age story about you as a teen. What made you decide to write a book about your experiences?
It was words from my faith, where God spoke to me to tell my story of how others helped me on my journey to manhood. Though there were others in my life, this particular time was hard for me at home, and I needed a sort of wakeup call, that I could overcome the obstacles.
Tell us a little about your father, your relationship with him, and what prompted him to send you to Canada that summer in 1961.
My father was close to me all the years of growing up. He was a successful businessman and divided his time between trying to maintain a home relationship, a marriage and raising three children. The marriage ended in tragedy and reflected in his career; at the time of going to Canada, he was recalling the people and the place where he experienced breakthrough in his own battles, and that life is an adventure in so many forms. He wanted me to focus on unknown horizons, the ruggedness of the wilderness and the people that navigated it, and why they were successful.
My Dad visited there for guided hunting and fishing (with Paul’s mentor Ted Helset) over a number of years. He developed his skills in that venue, from people who did it for a living and a way of life. There reason for being up there was to overcome the hardship, learn from nature, and adapt to its complexity and beauty. It was a rugged life only for the hearty with a sense of survival. Though my Dad came from the depression era, and knew about survival in that arena, he loved the woods and wanted me to share in that, with people that lived it daily.
What was the most important thing you learned that summer?
That summer, I learned that in the middle of your journey you are offered the opportunity to walk down another trail in a totally unfamiliar environment, experience that, savor the difference and add it to your list of experiences. To respect all walks of life, their loves and desires, hardships and triumphs, and their offer to share with you. Life as we see it is not necessarily the only vantage point. There are so many other opportunities to view the horizon from another perspective.
What is the message you want readers to take away from Turnaround Summer?
The message is that we have so much in our lives of value, share it with the next generation or two or three. They are the inheritors of this world, they need to know that their story will someday be of value if they seize the opportunities we can offer. They are so receptive if we reach into their hearts, and listen to their curiosities. They only lean into the things that internalize them for lack of another outlet. Challenge them to go beyond the television, the computer, and actually live life outside the box.
Are you working on another book?
Starting a novel with a bit of emotional and romantic background based on things currently materializing in my life. It has an aspect of relationship, adventure, crisis and tragedy. All of which we experience at one time or another in our lives if we choose to live beyond what we perceive as “the edge” This is definitely a work in progress as the rest of the story has not completed itself in my life as yet… But will very soon!
Paul Hansen worked for thirty years as a building contractor in western Washington. Now retired, he enjoys time with his three children, grandchildren, and extended family in the area, gardening, traveling throughout North America, but Paul makes sure he still has time to fish! Paul’s wife Linda of 44 years passed away last April. He says, “I am marrying a beautiful woman from our church, she was widowed 7 months before I was, and mentored me through the grief process. She was a friend of Linda’s, and we actually helped with her husband’s service. We have been together since last July, and have found commonality in our lives. She is a water color artist, loves music, plays the piano as I do, and I make her laugh a lot with the rest of my stories.”
Turnaround Summer is available on Amazon.com