Friday, October 16, 2009

Book: What Should I Do With My Life?

I recently finished reading What Should I Do With My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question by Po Bronson.

Being a perpetual seeker and one who asks myself the title question often, I'd been attracted to the book off and on over the years. I resisted because I thought it would be a self-help career change book that attempted to guide me as part of the masses through a series of exercises to answer "the question." Yet several people had mentioned or recommended the book and I succumbed to my curiosity.

What I found in Bronson's book was not at all what I expected. The book is a loosely organized collection of stories of people from diverse backgrounds who had asked themselves - and continue to ask themselves - the question. These aren't big "ah ha" stories. They don't follow perfect paths that leads them to save the world and amass great wealth. In fact, I was thrilled with the imperfection of their journeys and results. I was inspired by their spirits. And a few simply annoyed me. But in the end, I felt that I'd been able to gain a bit more insight into the human condition and how so many of us seem to grapple with finding a sense of meaning in our lives.

I was also taken with the writing style and how Bronson collected the stories. He'd connected with over 900 individuals whom he interviewed through various means. He spent significant amounts of time with many of them, essentially living with them for a few hours or days at at time. The writing itself reflects his experiment, the tone or syntax picking up the personality of the individual's story being told. In my opinion, this variation only adds to the experience of my being an observer, both of their lives and my own thoughts.

Socrates said (though not in English), "an unexamined life is not worth living." What Should I Do With My Life? has been a welcome part of my own examination. If you're a student of life and enjoy the stories of real people, give the book a try. Be sure to let go of any expectation that you'll find your answer to the question within the pages of this book.

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