The night before the first football practice in August, GT and some teammates decide to go cliff jumping at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. They’ve scouted the area, but in the dark and under the influence of a few beers, Steve Sorenson leaps from the wrong spot; he lands on a partially submerged rock and is paralyzed from the waist down.
The accident jars GT from his perfect world. He is further devastated, later the same night, when an old Navajo woman dies before his eyes in the hospital waiting room, shortly after telling him to figure out how to have a happy life.
For a while, GT’s senior year proceeds according to his initial plan. He enjoys a great season playing quarterback on the football team and has an attractive new girlfriend named Amanda. On the inside, however, he is in turmoil. The pain that has suddenly torn through his life drives him to ask big questions: Who am I? What should I do now? Is it possible to be happy in spite of all the suffering in the world?
While never explicitly mentioning Buddhism, Leaving Dreamland is a current-day take on the early life of Gautama, the young man who woke up.