This book is about life, as evidently implied by its title, and in its many pages lie 22 chapters, each spanning about 20 pages on a certain domain of life, written by many people from diverse angles and perspectives. Although the view-points of most writers in this book are a little conservative, arguably because it was published in the 60’s, but because the articles and short essays are anecdotes of life, they are almost timeless. That is because of our humanness. The discussion of human nature will always remain timeless, because it is a discussion of emotion.
The four main parts of the book are rich in advice and stories on how to live with people, with yourself, with reality, and with wisdom. This is especially vital for anyone who feels lost, or anyone who wishes to learn a little from those who are more experienced. After all, it serves the purpose of reading: to learn whilst being entertained.
The self is discussed in great detail, with added importance on loving oneself and reaching out to others. It preaches honesty as well as humility and the very virtues of life – almost like a guide that is still very down-to- earth, because essentially, they are opinions. You choose to either follow or not follow them. And they persuade you by putting in a story or two, more personal experiences and many quotes from great thinkers and poets like Wordsworth, and of course, by adding in scientific evidence. Perhaps it is the ideas that make this a page-turner, or the eloquence in writing, or both.
One of the writers states that in order to love, one must listen, and that it is an art. A person that provides undivided attention to the other is one that is able to love, because they make the second party feel loved. The very act of listening may seem very simple, but it is key to many factors in life. In discussing the war between men and women, love, adolescence, awareness, inner-peace (and so much more), the reader is inspired to learn so much more about human nature. The irony in that is that this nature blatantly surrounds us, but it only becomes clear when someone else states it.
Businessmen and astronauts, professors and clergymen, housewives and scientists all have one thing in common, and that is the desire to live, and to live well. In this book, they give insight on how to live selflessly and sometimes selfishly. What remains the most important factor is that we are all trying, despite our profession, to be the better version of our past selves. To recognise that is the first step to recognising who we are:
“No man ever lived who did not feel, at times, that he was condemned to go through life handcuffed to a stranger. That stranger is himself, the mysterious and unpredictable companion with whom he must share every thought, every emotion, every experience. Clearly, then, if this inevitable partnership is to succeed, a man must know how to live on good terms with himself, how to manage and control and sometimes improve himself. “Make it thy business to know thyself,” said Cervantes. “Which,” he added, “is the most difficult lesson in the world.””