The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are by Michael Chabon
The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are by John van de Mheten. This is a great little book on the subject of self-doubt. It’s easy to put down, but it doesn’t take away from the message. “Who am I?” is a question we all have to ask at some time or another. “How do I know who I am?”
John van De Mheten puts the matter in very simple terms. He says, “To know oneself is a process, not an event.” Meaning by definition, if one is self-doubting, he or she is not in complete control of his or her situation, and there are always circumstances that call for that control. So we have this constant ongoing dilemma, “Who am I?” However, the constant is that, “There is no one else, so we must learn to be ourselves.”
This book is very simple and straight forward, with very few illustrations. There isn’t a lot of philosophy in it. The short piece on the philosophy is in the preface. “In this book,” writes Mijas, “you will find nothing new. This is a practical approach.”
The only philosophy involved in this text is how to get rid of self-doubt and how to live your life in a state of total confidence. There really isn’t anything you haven’t heard before.
The problem is when I read these things that are supposed to make me think, “This doesn’t ring true,” I often don’t. I usually think, “What hasn’t I thought of already?” “How does this apply to me?” “How do I see what I really am?” Sometimes I read the piece and think, “Well, that’s great,” and then I stop and re-read what I wrote to see if I really wrote that, or if I’m remembering some other part of the piece or I’m reading the words of another author.
If there were one thing I would have taken away from The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are, it would be this quote. The quote is, “To know yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Now, I believe there is a bit of wisdom here because knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom, but only if you understand yourself or if you accept yourself for who you are. I’ve heard people say, “I am so happy I’m perfect!” While this may be true, there is no way to know who you are until you accept you as you are.
One of the things I’ve noticed about “The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are” is that at times the book is too personal and one might think there is too much advice. The problem with this book is when you read it like a psychotherapy session. If there is something you don’t like about yourself or something you want to change in yourself, you should not look to the individual chapters of the book to find your answers, you should look for the answers in the main body of the text, which is what I believe the main purpose of the book is.
I don’t know if I enjoyed reading The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are as much as I enjoyed reading the book review. I’m not one to read just about anything no matter how well it is written. I prefer to read books that have solid foundations and have strong characters that move the story along. This book did not meet up to this standard and while there are positive points in the book, there were also many parts that left me not wanting to finish reading it.