Turning 40 seemed to be a traumatic event. I faced it by inviting to dinner the ten women who had most influenced my life. My mother, my daughter, and my therapist joined me at a Benihana, and I never needed to visit another such restaurant. Now my mother is dead, the therapist and I lost touch, and my daughter doesn't speak to me. So much for noticing the important people in life, and turning 40 was nada compared to subsequent life events.
Why am I telling you this? Because it is relevant to an interesting book I just read, The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews. It's a short book, an easy read, not literary but not crap, either, by any stretch. It's pretty innocuous, really. One little story made me stop to think about myself, my life, and my relationships with others. That is a pretty historic event right there. No other self-help material has given me so much pause to reflect since I read Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the early 1990s.
I can't tell you what the book is about, because it is simply a narration of several loosely connected stories concerning an old man who delivers little lessons on life principles to people who seem to need to learn them . I don't think he offers anything for which you can't cite a 12-Step aphorism. (12-Steppers have a handy saying for every situation.) Some of the notions I have already discovered for myself, but then I'm 65 years old. So maybe this book might help younger people avoid some of the pain I've caused myself. Would they listen? Would they understand? Did I? Obviously not. And a couple principles require a faith that I simply don't have, so I disagree with them.
Associated with this book is The Noticer Project. It asks you to list up to five people who most influenced your life and to notice them. Never mind that the noticing in the book is by the old man observing other people. You can even do the noticing publicly, online. Before I visited the site, I came up with this list (much better than the one I made when I was 40):
Bertrand Russell Anne Wilder
Four of these are well-known. Ms. Wilder was my mentor for a quite few years. She was one of those special people who bring out the best in others. She was also a topnotch bureau chief and a crack news reporter, mainly with the Miami Herald. They are listed roughly in the order in which I "discovered" them.
I willingly surfed to the site, only to discover that the people you want to notice need to have email addresses. Most of mine are dead! I think that says something about the quality of the lives they led and their lasting influence on the world. I wish I could say the same for Andrews' book.