The first chapter, One House, opens the outer ‘ frame ’ tale when a
group of seven international travelers meet in a freak October blizzard in a
wild area of the Himalayan Mountains. They wander aimlessly looking for shelter
and nearing exhaustion stumble upon a Tibetan teahouse. The host appears and
invites the group to come inside, where they share the teahouse with a
traveling monk and nun also taking refuge from the storm. In the ensuing
conversations, the travelers reveal bits and pieces of their backgrounds and
the Tibetans share insights into the beliefs, history and culture of Tibet. The
seven travelers are drawn to question the simultaneity and randomness of the
encounter and decide to pass the night telling stories about circumstances and
events that led each to the present time and place.
Chapter 2, One Life, is the story of Ellie, a teenage girl living on
a homestead in the mountains with her parents and sister. Ellie is frustrated
with life on the farm and her limited options. She finds comfort in the
wildness of the forest and begins taking long solitary journeys into the woods.
Her parents become increasingly alarmed as she develops a deep bond with nature
and refuses to accept the roles that her parents have imagined for her.
Confronted by them and the leaders of their temple she struggles with the
conflict between humans and nature and the juxtaposition of good and evil into
the realness of the nighttime forest.
One and Only, the third chapter is the story of Ray a confused boy
seeking personal identity, direction and meaning. Ray becomes disillusioned
with, and angry about what he sees as the senseless nature of his school and
the working life awaiting him. He continually finds fault with the rules and
customs of his society, and is determined to be different and not become part
of the status quo. His attitude and rebellious nature lead him to confrontation
and begin to define him as he who refuses to be defined.
Chapter 4, As One, is the story of two lovers, Lana and Raz, who
leave their home and families to explore the world. Traveling by the grace of
others while looking for a new life on the open road, they meet several
powerful individuals who propel them to question the nature of freedom. They
ponder the connections between past and present actions (Karma), and the
relationships between personal activities and society-at-large. Lamenting the
apparent loss of their easy go lucky freedom, they struggle with their newfound
power and awareness and attempt to come to terms with the inherent existential
responsibility of consciousness.
The fifth chapter, One Mind, is the story of Karyn, a mathematician
recently out of graduate school, employed by a military contractor designing
bomb and missile guidance systems. Though told that she is a great patriot, she
is increasingly frustrated with the nature of her job and feels isolated from
the results of her work. One morning on the way into work, Karyn is confronted
by demonstrators yelling about her contribution to the continuation of war.
Unsure of the direction of her life and work, and reflecting back upon the
idealism of her school years, she ponders the relationships between education,
the marketplace and government… eventually leading to questioning her
responsibility and supporting role in the cycles of violence.
Chapter 6, One of Us, is the story of Lorraine, a woman forsaken by a
once-in-a-lifetime love at a young age, who has immersed herself into the
working life of a teen counselor. After nearly two decades of denial and
withdraw, she opens again to love and the transitory nature of romance.
The seventh chapter, One World, is the tale of Cibi, a shepherd in a
traditional rural village whose life is inexorably changed when the village
water supply is consumed by nearby mining operations. The world economy is
overcoming his country pushing traditional livelihoods out of existence. His
government welcomes the new economy and offers little relief to those
dispossessed. As the social unrest and violent conflicts expand, he seeks to
understand the nature of greed and violence, struggling with the inevitable
forces of history and the nature of personal action.
Chapter 8, One Love, is a brief look into the life and
mind of the enemy… illustrating the power of religious belief to metamorphose
poverty and despair into acts of unspeakable violence.
In the final chapter, One
Wheel, the seven travelers return to the question of the randomness of
their encounter and the reasons for their life circumstances. They begin to see
relationships and commonality within the stories, and struggle against their
(impossible) desire to understand what has occurred. The monk and nun share
insight and history, which prompts the travelers to look further into the root
causes of human behavior. They grapple with meaning and value in the quite
different picture of humanity that evolves before them, culminating in an
extraordinary group experience from which each character exits into a new life.