A Whole Life

“A Whole Life”.

Isn’t that an enticing phrase? A life that is whole, complete, wholesome, meaningful, seen in its entirety? There are many associations we can make with those three little words.

The first time they came to my notice, it was as the title of a book being reviewed on BBC’s Radio Four. The book the panelists were discussing was a slim little novel by Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins. The title caught my attention because, like many others, I’m consciously (and subconsciously) on the lookout for expressions of contentment and groundedness. The conversation continued to hold me rapt when I realised that the life of the hero was constrained by many and varied life events that were both hard and limiting… and yet the marvel of the book is the expression of determined wholeness as experienced by the protagonist.

As I read the book myself, I realised that this was not an ‘inspiration story’ designed to encourage mere mortals to rise above their life circumstances. Rather this novel is a story so real that it hurts. And therein lies the inspiration. The hero experiences life exactly as it is. Counsellors would describe his experiences as completely congruent. And that congruence is a beautiful, powerful thing.

A Whole Life invites us to walk through one individual’s life story. We see with his eyes and feel with his heart, and our commentary is not required. His narrative is self-sufficient, complete and whole. There is pain, there is love, there is determination and there is hope. And there is peace.

Read it. It is Whole.

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