Shirley MacLaine goes out on a limb — again. With I’m Over All That: And Other Confessions she has written a candid memoir about streamlining one’s life by getting over as many obstacles to happiness as possible. This time she leans forward from a more rooted tree that has grown in the sunlight of maturity and a deeper understanding of reincarnation and of Shirley herself. She shares what it means to live as a spiritual person and a woman of 77 years. The title she chose is a reflection of her independence and a rejoinder to the command “Get over it!” MacLaine declares that “I’m Over All That” and with each of the chapters, some as short as one page, declares that she’s over everything… well, almost everything. The book has no index or table of contents, hardcover length 218 pages.
Let’s start with a few of the things she’s over: fear as taught by religions, liberals and conservatives, being under a corporate conglomerate’s control, vanity, being polite to boring people, the need to have her family around on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And speaking of family, she does not mention her equally famous brother Warren Beatty. In the chapter “I’ll Never Get Over Trying to Understand Men and Women” the author talks men and the mutual attraction that has shaped her life. She and same-age friends and fellow movie stars discuss ageing, and how famous women “do not ‘cattily’ compete with each other,” when they work together on films. A case in point: “Steele Magnolias” where Julia Roberts, a neophyte among seasoned stars, was treated roughly. The irony: these days she is a global top box-office draw.
In this same chapter Shirley discusses one of her loves: Robert Mitchum and his self-deprecation about his looks. He couldn’t care less about them or in what light he was cast. Shirley kept herself busy with him as well as international politicians; many of these love affairs were kept secret for decades. I am sure that one day Hollywood will come knocking for a movie about her intriguing life filled with love and adventure. Who will play Shirley in the movie version, I wonder?
Some things Shirley is not over: good journalists, Africa, making money, exercise, the Akashic records, belief in reincarnation, good vibrations.
MacLaine discusses the men she has bedded but not wedded, and in addition famous figures she has met in her travels such as Indira Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama. She even spent an afternoon talking to Fidel Castro. To her surprise he wanted to know “about the Kennedys” and her reply “me too.” She brought back Cuban cigars to Jimmy Carter who refused to accept or smoke them.
During MacLaine’s recent appearance on one of Oprah’s final-season shows she discussed the Mayan prophecies and 2012. Shirley’s take was more in line with what the Mayans meant: it is not about the destruction of the physical world, although that could occur if there were a shift of earth’s magnetic poles; it’s more about the destruction of humanity’s perception of the physical and metaphysical world. According to MacLaine the planet’s magnetic field and pole reversal would mean brain changes:
Our brains detect magnetic changes because our brains contain millions of tiny magnetic particles. These particles connect us to the Earth’s magnetic field in a powerful and intimate way which affects our consciousness profoundly (page 155).
How does this A-list star recast her past lives in this latest memoir installment? She speaks of the Akashic records which play a role in the revelation of reincarnated selves. Two chapters bundle her beliefs about rebirth: “Get Over Thinking You’re Just One Person” and “Will We Ever Get Over The Akashic Records?” This last chapter is a favorite of mine because rarely do psychics and gurus talk Akashic records with any authority.
But the author went to one of the authorities on such things and asked the Dalai Lama to enlighten her on those records. His information was not new and can be found in certain books but I liked the way that the author conveyed the information in an understandable manner. The Akashic holds all the records or acts ever committed on earth, and are protected but must be accessed and one must be fit to access them. The only thing that was omitted, or changed, is that the record holders are part of the plant kingdom and that vegetarianism a requirement to read them accurately. I never questioned this wisdom because I was always vegetarian, but since Buddhists come in all stripes and vegetarianism is not required it makes sense that this was not included. True or false, the Akashic Records are a real phenomenon.
Women and their vision is often questioned including MacLaine’s. But she has a cool philosophical take:
I find it fascinating that his [Dalai Lama] believes in the soul’s journey
through time (reincarnation) never elicit cynicism or derision,
but that same belief from a Westerner who works in show
business elicits derisive smirks. Maybe it’s only a matter of wardrobe (page 177).
Shirley MacLaine’s observations are keen and she is not alone when it comes to derision or mockery. She discusses how at different points in Western history Christianity felt incumbent on removing any and all discussion of the soul’s journey and replacing it with a one-life-fits-all dogma that has held sway for centuries.
I’m Over All That quietly makes the point that perhaps it is time for Christians and other skeptics to come out of the dark age and meet the new age at least half way. Shirley takes the reader on many armchair journeys, where she meets them more than halfway with spot-on clarity and timeless wisdom. I enjoyed reading her take on all things Shirley.