The Road Back to Yourself
Review posted March 8, 2010.
Voice (Hyperion), New York, 2008. 205 pages.
Here's a book written by a woman in midlife, musing about the paths we take. As a 45-year-old woman going through divorce, with a looming job loss due to budget cuts, I was very ready to listen to what she had to say, to share her journey.
I especially liked the last section, where she spends some time on Iona, an island off the coast of Scotland. I especially enjoyed it simply because I have been to Iona, only for a few hours, but it's easy to remember the spiritual magic of the place, and easy to take vicarious pleasure in her journeys there.
In the prologue, Joan Anderson says,
The call to a second journey usually commences when unexpected change is thrust upon you, causing a crisis of feelings so great that you are stopped in your tracks. Personal events, such as a betrayal, a diagnosis of serious illness, the death of a loved one, loss of self-esteem, a fall from power are only a few of the catalysts. A woman caught thusly has no choice but to pause, isolate, even relocate until she can reevaluate the direction in which she should head. Should she stay the course or choose another path?
But alas, many of us inhibit our capacity for growth because the culture encourages us to live lives of uniformity. We stall, deny, ignore the ensuing crisis because of confusion, malaise, and yes, even propriety. Yet more and more, I come in contact with women, particularly in midlife -- that uneasy and ill-defined period -- who do not want merely to be stagnant but rather desire to be generative. Today's woman has the urge to go against the prevailing currents, step out of line, and break with a polite society that has her following the unwritten rules of relationship, accepting the abuses of power in the workplace, and blithely living with myriad shoulds when she has her own burgeoning desires.
This book will help you navigate through change -- from being merely awakened to being determined, impassioned pilgrim on her own individual path. This does not mean giving up family and friends; it simply means integrating the web of family and other relationships into your world so that they are a part of your life but not your entire life.
Here are some good thoughts for your own second journey.