Friday, May 08, 2009

'They Told Me I Had To Write This' (Kim Miller)

Parker Palmer, in his brilliant little book Let Your Life Speak, bemoans the fact that many/most of us live lives 'other than one's own'. We allow what happens to us - especially the wounds inflicted deliberately or unintentionally by others or by circumstance - to rob us of our true/free self. As a result, no punishment anyone might inflict on us can be worse than what we inflict upon ourselves: we thus 'conspire in our own diminishment'.

Kim Miller's latest book, 'They Told Me I Had to Write This' (Ford Street Publishing, 2009) is a brilliant narrative-commentary on Parker Palmer's wisdom, written as a teenage boy's conversations with himself via letters to his grandmother - about school, friends, fights, teenage romance, sexual abuse, relating uncomfortably to a single-parent father (whose wife, the boy's mother, died as she was giving birth to him: that's a key to just-about-everything-else...).

And how does one deal with all these painful loose ends? Tim Miller's wise suggestion: through the help of skilled and caring significant others who help us face our demons, do a thorough job of 'reality-checking', and facilitate reconciliation with the important people in our lives.

This is a book I planned to skim, but I got hooked, and read every word. It's a terrific read. But for whom? I'd give it to intelligent teenagers and their parents/teachers - indeed anyone who wants a glimpse into the lives and vocabularies (heard of ODB - 'oppositional deficit behaviour'?) of contemporary adolescents. There's a couple of counselling verbatims between teenagers and a school-teacher and priest that are worth the price of the whole book. Thanks Kim!

Rowland Croucher
May 2009

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Husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, pastor, teacher, writer, used-to-be-academic... See here for more: