The cover of this book doesn’t do it any favours but one of the recommendations on the back says: “As useful a self-help book as one is likely to find.” And I would tend to agree! There’s a certain amount of new-age speak but the jargon is mostly mined from psychoanalysis, with Jung himself frequently quoted. There are also umpteen clever references to classical mythology and literature. But if that’s all sounding too high-brow, you could always flick through the many long, double-column lists that compare what you’re probably feeling or doing now, with how you could be operating.
I found the author’s central themes compelling, and was especially convinced by the idea that we are all intrinsically connected, and everyone is therefore a reflection of each other. It’s a familiar theory: that the trait we find most frustrating in others is probably one that we also possess. But I’ve never heard it phrased so eloquently, and in such detail. In the end I came away feeling like we are all just one giant maze of mirrors.
The other great thing about this book is that it draws your attention to the positive aspects of our intrapersonal relationship, not just the negatives. Not only do we see our own faults in others, but also our best qualities. When we admire someone’s strength or style, we are seeing echoes of ourself – or at least what we have the potential to be if we’d only cast off the bullshit.
If you can stomach these kinds of self-help/spiritual/metaphysical books (and I can easily, gleefully) then I can’t recommend this one enough. I found myself looking very fondly at a little old lady driving the bus the other morning, and wondering, what’s her story? How did she get in that seat? Too often, though, I’m judgmental and short with people. It’s easy enough to intellectualise the theory that we are all one; the challenge is to live by it, and be compassionate at all times.