Seeking Peace by Mary Pipher
I don’t remember when I’ve related more to a book from its opening pages, but this was one of those times. There were points when the author “told my story” to such an extent that I found myself shouting “YES!” out loud as I read. (Sorry, Oreo.)
Mary Pipher’s struggles to meditate (“Until … my fifties, I had never, not even for ten seconds, done nothing”), her need to be outdoors (“It is as if we were solar-powered) and especially her crisis of spirit around her own success (“Convincing people that great success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be is a hard sell”) resonated strongly.
She reminded me that “many people politely fall apart at some point in their lives” but that “how they regroup and move on determines what their future will be.” This was the story of how she did just that.
So many memoirs slide down the slippery slope of sappiness, but this one did not. The author at all times remained refreshingly human, able to laugh at herself while still expressing the seriousness of her struggle with depression and the joy of her spiritual rebirth … all in a way that did not induce eye-rolling from the reader.
Part of the charm of this book for me may have been that it was written when the author was around my current age. Younger people may not get the same impact, and probably if I had read this in my thirties or even my forties, I would have smiled and said “that’s nice” and forgotten about it.
But I will not soon forget this book with its timeless message of gratitude, fortitude and faith. Most importantly, it was another reminder that my struggles are not unique to me; they are part of the human experience, and no matter how lonely I may feel, I am never really alone.