Understanding why we behave, feel, react and survive the way we do has been a subject of fascination since the dawn of self-awareness. The endless debate of nurture vs. nature, research into the essence of being human, and concerns of destiny and fate have always intrigued our species. In Of Endings and Beginnings: A Memoir of Discovery and Transformation, author Robert Speigel paints a beautiful, tragic, optimistic and brutally honest picture of existence, and also shares a number of tools and strategies to overcome the darkness in your own life, and control the beliefs that will otherwise control you.
As a licensed clinical psychotherapist, much of Speigel’s life is spent dissecting and analyzing the lives and decisions of others, but this book is not of the self-help variety. In fact, he strongly advocates against that take in the introduction of the book. Rather, this is a memoir of his own life, and his intimate journey of self-discovery. This book illuminates the path he took to eliminate the “beloofs” (false beliefs about life and oneself established at a young age) that once dominated his behavior.
While the life and times of a therapist doesn’t immediately sound like much of a thriller, give this book a chance. Speigel has led quite the interesting life, and the incredible adventures revealed within his whirring mind make for a very good read.
From his thoughts on psychotherapy, ego and wellness to higher consciousness, psychic connections and past lives, this book is a strange mixture of personal narration and fanciful imagining, and the line between reality and dreams is blurred early on. His adult experiences are interspersed with intimate portrayals of his own childhood, gradually providing readers with a composite portrait of the author. Even though this is focused on a single man’s life, there are elements of universality, particularly in his diatribes on neuropsychology and philosophy, which seek truth deep at the core of humanity – something to which all readers can relate.
When you begin to investigate the mind, and try to understand what it does and why, it can take you quickly into the realm of science fiction. Yet, there is still so much about our own “mental master” that completely baffles and befuddles humans, which adds to the mystery and intriguing uncertainty of this book. Speigel navigates the difficult waters of personal reflection, confession and judgment with grace and occasional humor.
The writing varies greatly in its pace and tone, from somber and savagely honest to uplifting and optimistic, but with such an emotionally volatile subject as memory and consciousness, this is inevitable. As a memoir, it is unique, and as a tale of a lifelong vision quest, it is unmatched. Speigel’s power of storytelling makes his own life the stuff of brilliant fiction, but his hunger for understanding and enlightenment is also inspiring. Of Endings and Beginnings shares a powerful perspective for cleansing one’s demons and allowing the better angels of nature to take over, and Robert Speigel is the only man qualified to tell this particular unforgettable story of both his life and ours.
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