CROSSING THE UNKNOWN SEA: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity
David Whyte, CROSSING THE UNKNOWN SEA: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity<. , $24.95 (257pp) ISBN 978-1-57322-178-8
Readers who accept poet and Fortune 500 consultant Whyte's invitation to enter into "an imaginative conversation about life and work" are likely to be challenged as well as delighted by the beauty of his writing and the expansiveness of his views. Gracefully using the metaphor of a sea voyage to depict the journey through the world of work, Whyte views work not only as a means of support, but as a means for interacting with the world and developing self-expression and identity. While he draws on the philosophical underpinnings of the self-help movement aimed at finding one's "inner compass," Whyte doesn't offer the step-by-step pragmatism of other books. Instead, his approach is subtler and more organic, presenting an abundance of provocative ideas, especially on one's relationship with time and daily ritual, on the importance of dignity and ethics and on honoring the labor of one's ancestors. Interwoven with and undergirding Whyte's philosophy are passages of memoir, detailing his unique experiences as a naturalist in the Galápagos Islands, for example, together with poetic references from Whitman, Spender, Dickinson, Rilke, Wordsworth and Whyte's own works. Even Whyte's friends are wise, as evidenced by a monk who tells him that the antidote to exhaustion is not rest but "wholeheartedness." Thoughtful readers will wholeheartedly savor this book.
Reviewed on: 03/26/2001