Book Review: Life Is a Verb
This is a difficult post, because I keep wanting to describe things in terms of what they aren’t, and that isn’t helpful.
Patti Digh isn’t just a blogger. Her new book Life Is a Verb isn’t just a self-help book. I’m not just writing to review the book.
What I am trying to do is find a way to describe how grateful I am that she and her work have come into my life.
I did, honestly, wonder what her book would offer that just reading her online essays didn’t already do, but I see now that it’s the difference between watching movie clips and seeing the whole film. The book gives you the sense of how the pieces fit into the whole: a structure that ties it all together, the “why” before each story and the “what now” after.
Each essay sums itself up with a wonderful little title that describes the main point. I catch myself using them to myself now in my mental shorthand. Here are a couple of the glorious phrases I’ve learned:
- “liminal spaces“: the concept of the in-betweens. The moment that you realize someone’s about to say something that will change your life forever. When you’re on the threshold. How we should look out for those moments, and how to honor them when they’re happening.
- “desire lines“: the shortcuts that aren’t on the map. What people do that isn’t in the instruction manual. That that’s okay – and that we should put aside the directions we worked so hard on (our “toast rules” ) when they just don’t work as well as the desire lines do.
Fantastic concepts. You knew of those things – you knew they were important – and now you have names for them. That’s a big part of what Patti does. She speaks of remarkable things. She talks about things that we knew, deep down, were supremely important, but had never really considered. She gives them names, explains why they matter, and – this is key – how we can honor them properly.
Her essay “Unpack Your Boxes” is one of the most meaningful for me. It’s a wrenching, breath-holding story, one that exhorts against doing something that I did for far too long – holding on, not choosing, being a nomad, being myself liminal.
It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that reading Patti’s work, and knowing her to the small degree that I do, has made me a better person. I don’t know how to pay a higher compliment than that, and I’m endlessly grateful for it. Please read her blog. Please check her book out. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it, but I think you will even more.