by Susan Jeffers
St. Martin's Press, 2003
Review by David M. Wolf, M.A. on Nov 14th 2003
professionals, overworked parents, the over-stressed and the worried, and
everyone else who cannot find time to study and experience the wisdom of
eastern traditions, Susan Jeffers has intelligently woven the best of those
insights into Embracing Uncertainty. She has also provided nearly
fifty exercises to make the learning practical and long lasting. She's
unabashed about "spiritual" growth as a part of her message; she is
as enthusiastic in her style and presentation as you might expect from the
author of the best-selling Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.
book gets stronger later, not sooner. In fact, it stumbles just a bit getting
out the gate. Jeffers seems unsure at first, and downright ingenuous about a
few things, saying, without laughter, that "the only thing certain is that
life is uncertain," and "so on and on" (like Kurt Vonnegut does
in Breakfast of Champions), and even believing for part of a chapter that she's
uncovered a new method for coping in, "I won't think about that
today, I'll think about it tomorrow," seemingly without the least awareness
that she's just been quoting Scarlett O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone
With the Wind.
no matter! Scarlett was on to something no doubt, and Jeffers mixes and matches
any idea she finds sufficiently delectable, takes even the most dauntingly
profound, intellectually difficult wisdom and expresses it in
language both accessible and plain. That in itself is well worth
the reader's investments of time and the purchase price. And there is a
great deal more.
and increasing command after the first two chapters, Jeffers explores how
to live well in a "maybe" world by coming to terms with our
"attachments" and by letting go of the many rigid ideas that
dominate life in our culture. She talks about her heroes and, drawing on the
work of one of them, Victor Frankl the famous death-camp survivor,
author, and therapist, offers a long list of ways to enrich life with
meaning and purpose. In fact, if one were to press the question, "How do I
embrace uncertainty, Dr. Jeffers?" her most essential
reply is, "Find your meaning and purpose."
and purpose and put them fully to work--that's the spirit of this
book. The exercises are not an after thought, but the meat and potatoes (vegans
should use a better metaphor) of every chapter throughout. Jeffers designed
this work to be read and used over and over again, and this reviewer gets the
impression she knows her readers well and has their real interests very much in
her mind and her commitments.
heart is a quality too often missing (or faked) in today's writing, and it's a
welcome thing to find it displayed consistently and vibrantly in Embracing
Uncertainty. One of Jeffers rules is to live "without
expectations," but it just might be true that readers who buy this
book can expect, in the end, to have a new friend, one who offers
authentic insights for transformed living. You can find her website
© 2003 David Wolf
David M. Wolf, M.A.
studied philosophy of science for the M.A. with Prof. David Hawkins at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and also read
advanced philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. His undergraduate education in
Philosophy was guided by Prof. Mason Gross. Wolf is certified in philosophic
counseling with the American Philosophic Practitioners Assoc. and earns his
living in management consulting, where he is distinguished in writing strategic
plans and advising in organization development and career counseling.