Each month, I look forward to reading Martha Beck’s column in Oprah Magazine. The Harvard-educated psychologist uses her extraordinary storytelling ability to help her readers create more satisfying and meaningful life experiences.
In Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, Beck urges us to embrace our wildness and carve out different lives for ourselves as she addresses two basic questions: “How the hell did I get here?” and “What the hell should I do now?”
Having read her previous bestsellers—Finding Your Own North Star, Steering by Starlight, Expecting Adam—I knew enough not to expect another pop cultural self-help book. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book has all the ingredients necessary to create positive change in your life, whether you are new to the spiritual path or a seasoned traveler.
Beck walks the walk and she crosses an ocean to do so. The book is based on her experiences in Londolozi, a game preserve in South Africa. Throughout the book, she talks about her encounters with the animals and the lessons she learned along the way.
Her excellent command of the language is evident in the following descriptions: “The rhino, half hidden behind a thorn bush, cocks her primordial-looking head—which is roughly the size of a grocery cart—and swivels her satellite-dish ears toward us” and “Because cheetah’s tongues are like industrial-grade sandpaper, it’s physically excruciating; with every kiss, the cheetah seems to be removing significant layers of skin.”
She does not hesitate to point out her own personal foibles, reflecting a self deprecating sense of humour. After providing us with the healthy ingredients for a green “gorilla” smoothie, she adds the following instructions: “Throw all this stuff in a blender, where it will form a lovely still life of deeply saturated color. Then push the button and wait until the whole thing looks as if you already ate it, then threw up. Really, it might not be pretty, but your body will love it.”
This book is intended for wayfinders, “people who feel an internal call to heal any authentic part of the world, beginning with their own true nature.” Throughout the book, Beck talks about gathering a team of these people. She demonstrates four simple tools for transformation—wordlessness, oneness, imagination, creation—and includes step-by-step instructions and guided reflections designed to get us out of our mental ruts.
As Martha Beck Beck says, “If you’re a born mender, you’ll pursue this in spite of yourself. And as you find it, you’ll automatically become the change you wish to see in the world, healing the true nature of the people and things around you.”
It’s the kind of book you don’t read in one sitting. Instead, you reflect on each chapter and then at the end, go back and reread it, gaining new insights along the way.