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A good non-new idea, but bad subtext
on May 27, 2010
This is a hard book for me to rate because it had good points and bad points.
52 entries (they don't really qualify as essays). Each begins with a quote. Each ends with a "Powerful Pause for the Upcoming Week." The entries are a mixture of diary entry, toastmaster- or sermon-type stories, and whatever thought the author seemed to be having on the particular day that he wrote the entry.
- Easily read, addictive. I read it quite quickly over a few days, pausing to think and look out the window as I did so.
- It usually gave me that peace-as-I'm-reading feeling that I've been looking for lately.
- It feels as if it was whipped out with no effort on the part of the author.
- The entries/points it makes seemed scattershot and random. Today he was watching the news so that made him think of this, tomorrow he was on the ferry, so he thought of that, etc. So at the end of the book there really is nothing to remember except his descriptions of the plants in his vast garden, or the sunsets he experienced while riding the ferry in Puget Sound to his home on Vashon Island. (And perhaps that's not so bad. Maybe that's what we should all be focusing on, sunsets and our gardens.)
- Several entries came from a Buddhist point of view, two or three times that many talked about God.
- It feels very much like he took his sermon-writing skills from when he was a minister and applied them to this book: think throughout the week, have a sermon by Sunday.
The Subtextual Bad:
- He mentions a few times about how he has struggled with trying to appear important. So all the entries about his garden, which sounds lavish, and the great life he has sitting out there every evening it seems watching sunsets, and how often he's on planes because he is so wanted for speaking engagements and leading retreats, and all the other sunsets he describes from all the great houses of friends he has all over the states, it all makes it sound as if he hasn't quite resolved those issues. There is a subtext of bragging.
- Sure it's easy to appreciate things when you're surrounded by beauty and constantly traveling to new places, but what about the rest of the world, who might live in a ghetto, have a brick wall outside their window, and be struggling to make ends meet? How do they apply his principles? (Whatever those were since they weren't clearly defined.)
- There is a narcissism in these entries: how great his life is, how great he is for achieving this, and for having the sense to appreciate it. As if he's thinking, How great my life is sitting under these sunsets and pondering so that I can share these deep thoughts with you. Occasionally, he will remember that, hey, we're watching him, he better mention someone else. So suddenly we'll see a mention of his son Zack. Usually one sentence. Okay, but here's a question. If you're so mindful of your life, how can you have a book of 52 entries, most of which have an element of diary to them, and not have a single mention of your wife (which it states on the back flap that you have)? It is as if this peacefulness that comes from pausing can only happen in, basically, a single situation: sitting out under a sunset and watching, describing the colors, and there is someone behind you, your wife, doing all the hard stuff, the dishes, the laundry, so that you can live this life of intellectual luxury. And yet, she doesn't even break in to your consciousness.
- A final note: He complained about our culture, ever on the hunt for the superlatives: more, faster, better, newer. So it was amusing(?) to see at the end of the first entry that he would end each one with a POWERFUL Pause for the Upcoming Week instead of just a Pause.
So what can I say? I'm left with the idea of pausing, appreciating the sunset, slowing down (of course, after I've worked really hard to achieve success so that when I do slow down it will be in a place of luxury), all of which I could get from the title itself.