Otter Thompson: First Impressions
Otter Thompson: First Impressions
Betsy Otter Thompson contacted me in September and graciously offered to send me a copy of her new book, Walking Through Illusion, to review and promised that it would be in the mail the next day. Yesterday, she sent me an email to see how the review was coming along and I realized I hadn't checked my PO Box for a couple of weeks. Holy Oops!
I asked my fiancé to check for it on his way home yesterday, and sure enough, there it was, patiently waiting for me. Mental note: I must check the box every week and, sometimes, the mail takes a long time.
Last night I took "Walking Through Illusion" to bed and finished the Preface, Author's Note, and first two Chapters. First Impression: NEAT-O! (I know, I know. I excel at the technical language.)
"Walking Through Illusion" is Otter Thompson's examination of love and compassion and the action/reaction dynamic that seems to be at the root of so much that we experience in this life. It "was written from her conviction that hearts are free to express from the depth to which they go" (p1). Admittedly, I had to read this phrase a couple of times to get it, but, she does go on to explain that the more we love, the deeper our capacity to experience and love becomes and the fuller our understanding and being-ness. In other words, the less we live in illusion.
Action/reaction is compared to an 'emotional mirror' that life holds up to us – we can only experience on the outside what we free ourselves to feel on the inside. If we refuse to see what is being reflected to us, life continues to provide us with opportunities to accept and learn.
The goal of "Walking Through Illusion" is to challenge us to become more accountable, to realize that all of our decisions result in growth and that taking responsibility for our lives is the tool through which we can create different experiences (p3).
In the Preface, Otter Thompson and Jesus discuss how life is like a night at the theatre and that how, when we are there, the players on the stage and the plot become real for us, they captivate us, but that when the play is over, we know we will continue with our lives. In the same way, the dramas that we experience throughout our lives are chosen by our souls to help us learn and grow and when we leave this life we will be able to review how we did and choose our next adventure.
There is a lightness to this philosophy that I love. It is not that this life is unimportant, but that we can choose to remember that it is only one moment in an eternity of experience and tenderly hold it as as an opportunity to grow. Which brings me to the first caveat: This is a Jesus book. If you have issues with Jesus (and I know there are many who do), just bear with me because Betsy has done a masterful job of presenting an amiable and enlightened Jesus who seeks to share instead of to judge.
Not only does the author discuss Jesus in the book, she also converses with Jesus. And that's okay. Neale Donald Walsch talks to God in his Conversations With God series and Paul Ferrini talks to Jesus in Love Without Conditions. Contacting that energy that is highest, regardless of what we call it or whether we consider it to be within or outside of ourselves has, in my experience, the capacity to convey truths in a simple and profound way and I almost always enjoy the books that are written with this intention.
Betsy was inspired to approach the subject of self-development through the examination of the lives of Biblical characters and their interactions with Jesus. In the first two chapters, through her examination of the life of Bartholomew (probably Nathanael), she examines the challenges that arise when we are trying to live a life of integrity and love. As he matured, he began to take responsibility for creating the life that he wanted instead of blaming the life he had, and its restrictions, on everyone around him.
Each Chapter ends with a series of questions to help you delve deeper into the subject matter and Personal Insights from the author which help to personalize and concretize the information presented. Happily, they aren't your typical questions. The very first question is: "How many useless goals can you think up?" (p16).
I confess I was flummoxed by this one. If every experience is worthwhile from a growth perspective, how could any goal be useless. Luckily, I have Facebook and when I threw the question out to the crowd, I received several wonderful responses. Here, then, is a short list of useless goals:
- Trying to achieve high scores in video games.
- Making lists of useless goals.
- Participating in hockey/baseball/football pools.
- Preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
While I could see a worthy kernel in each of these goals, it would be a better use of my energy and time to choose different goals that I found enjoyable and motivating in order to get to those kernels.
Quote I love: "If you think you have to change others to be happy, no one is going to change for the better from knowing you" (p7). Okay, that's the first look at the newest book. Let me know what you think.