Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Tammy Kling &
John Spencer
HarperCollins, 2009,
pp 256, Rs 475

Yet, Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis have succeeded in synergising their energies and special skills to bring out this uplifting work, which is clearly intended to be much more than a work of fiction.

Kling is an international author and personal coach whose “mission is to transform lives through the power of words” whilst Ellis is America’s leading expert on fitness, personal development and healthy living. Compass is not only the story of a rudderless Jonathan Taylor’s journey of reclamation but also a book intended to help readers on their own voyage.  

Each chapter in this concise novel starts with an inspiring quote, placing the events that have transpired in perspective. The opening quote in the first chapter, “Sometimes you must let go of the life you had planned for in order to make room for the life ahead of you,” for example, offers an indicator to what this book is about.   

As Jonathan moves from one set of experiences to another, the reader will find herself garnering priceless nuggets of wisdom along with the protagonist, as when a character diagnosed with a terminal cancer tells him, “Some people who have decades to live, are already dead inside... Right now, I feel more alive than ever.”   

The authors pick an interesting mix of people for Jonathan to learn life’s lessons from, including a 10-year old black refugee, Solomon, who manages to sound as wise as the king by the same name. Of course, the thought does occur about how a young lad with so little education could come up with such valuable insights. Perhaps the authors have tried to convey the message that wisdom is not the prerogative of the old or the educated and that life’s lessons can be learnt from anyone.

This narrative about an attempt to rediscover one’s life after a turning-point is made more interesting with other issues that are also touched upon. Along with the protagonist, the reader also learns the importance of harmonising with nature — a very important lesson in today’s time when man’s exploitation of nature has resulted in problems like global warming and climate change.  

One can see the influence of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy in some of the observations: “Each human, an individual jumble of limiting beliefs and emotions, toppling other humans, like a string of dominos... Each thought that leads to action that leads to a reaction thousands of miles away.”   

Not content with the messages that the book has to offer, as Jonathan’s journey concludes, the authors have devoted a whole chapter to the 10 lessons intended in Compass — ‘Words to transform your life’ — finally ending with a note to the readers from each of the authors.

One of the drawbacks of the book is that in trying to pack in a lot in its 256 pages, it could not delineate some of the interesting characters in detail. Written in the form of a screenplay, Compass is also available as a documentary with leading inspirational coaches and gurus from America sharing their wisdom along with the authors.   

At a time of individualism born of materialism, it feels good to have a book that teaches one to value the people who come into your lives like angels “sent to you to deliver a message.”

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