Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Glad No Matter What by SARK

Glad No Matter What:  Transforming Loss and Change Into Gift and Opportunity by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK) is colorful, quirky, and overflowing with simple ideas and thoughts from a woman who experienced some difficulties in the past year.  After her mother’s death, the ending of a love relationship, and then the death of her 17 year old cat, SARK’s exploration of her own grief is both compassionate and candid.

What SARK lacks in depth she more than makes up for in sincerity.  She doesn’t claim to be an expert; she merely shares from her experience.  As she’s done in past books, each chapter focuses on an idea, a concept, something she herself either needs to learn or has learned or continues to learn.  Each chapter ends with a list of resources–books, websites, and more.  Sprinkled throughout the book are quotations, few (if any) are given full citations with only a name offered.  This seems to be the norm but I really wish more people would make the effort to say where the quote can be found because a good quote can often be found in a greater context but when a prolific person is quoted without a context only the truly intrepid is going to seek out let alone find the original source.

This is becoming a pet peeve of mine, I suppose.  But this is how SARK’s books have always been and I don’t begrudge her this.  In fact, Glad No Matter What seems to be more genuine than some of her other books.  There was a time when it seemed she was going astray from her own path and now she has returned to herself, inviting the reader to genuinely experience the gamut of emotions.  She suggests, and rightly so, that even in the midst of the deepest unhappiness there are things to celebrate and when hurting there are places of abiding love.  To give too much attention or weight to one emotion is to lose appreciation for all emotions and when we resist those feelings that are too difficult or even scary we risk losing touch with our own honesty.

To be clear, some of what she says comes off as pop-psychology and there is imbalance in what she shares.  This is to be expected.  As I said before and she’ll say even more loudly and clearly, she is not an expert.  If her advice is limited it is because her experience is likewise limited.  And as much as I love SARK, even I have to roll my eyes at some of her stories.  But that’s okay.  For one thing, I’m pretty sure she’d roll her eyes at some of mine too.  For another, I think we’d both get a good belly laugh out of the dizzy aftershocks of my eye rolling.  Then we’d find something else to make us laugh some more.

So no, she’s not brilliant but she dazzles and sparkles, her pages dance and sing, and in a world where so many people are scared to be honest, to be themselves, she’s unmistakably unique.  A welcome breath of fresh air.

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