I have to admit that when I began reading The Landmark List by Karen C. Eddington, I had a strange sense of dejavué. It reminded me of a book I read several years ago, The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. Essentially, the main character is down and out, he is losing or has lost his job and his family is in trouble as well. Just at his darkest moment he receives help from an unusual source and the It’s a Wonderful Life scenario starts in earnest.
The premise of The Landmark List is using the tools of the self-help program outlined in the book —The Theory of Purpose— in order to find meaning and purpose in your life. This is a very timely topic and I’m glad Karen is one of those giving souls who try to tackle serious issues and help others overcome their problems. That being said, I’m not sure The Landmark List is her most effective tool for doing that. I think it makes a good supplement to other things she is doing, and it helps to get the word out about the types of things one can do, but it didn’t seem like an end-all-be-all to me.
I kept reading because I could recognize the importance of the principles being presented and the nature of the inspiration that could be obtained from considering some of these things. After a while it began reminding me less of The Traveler’s Gift and more of an experience I had many years ago in nursing school. As part of my psyche rotation, I had to sit in on and evaluate a Christian-base therapy group.
I heard a lot of the same types of thoughts and advice and I have to say, it was more effective in a group setting. Perhaps that’s my biggest problem with this book. The principles in it are sound. They are things every one of us needs to consider deeply, but the presentation of them did nothing for me. Maybe I’m just a big scrooge, but the scenarios just didn’t seem real to me. That being said, I can see this being a very, very effective fireside or workshop. The book probably becomes more meaningful after hearing from the author as well. I would suggest looking into where Karen is presenting. If she’s in your area, I think it would be a worthwhile experience to hear from her.
Here’s what it felt like happened as I was reading. Two people facing big life challenges stumble upon a book of answers. After every reading they suddenly wake up and say, “Of course! That’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I’m all better now.” Yes, they took a few actions to help that along, but those weren’t defined enough that the reader could take them and figure out what they could do as well.
As the story plays out it takes approximately a week to complete the transformation. I don’t buy that as a real-life situation. Change and enlightenment is a tough, long process. The story made it seem like just reading the book would automatically open up your life-path for you. I don’t think that was the intention, but I can see some severely depressed or hurting individuals coming away even more discouraged than they went in.
The most effective parts for me were the last 20 pages where the author outlines the program a little more and gives some more specific exercises. Here’s my humble opinion on how to read The Landmark List. Skip to the back and read it first. Once you have a feel for each step, go to the story, find the italicized portions dealing with that step and read them next. Do your own exercises, then see how the family in the story dealt with the information to give yourself more to think about.
Overall, as I’ve mentioned, The Landmark List is full of information that each of us need to consider, early and often in our lives. It may not appeal to you for pleasure reading, but it makes a good way to focus your thoughts for a Sunday afternoon of personal reflection. Don’t miss the important tidbits that really could chance your life and thinking. If nothing else, copy out the principles and place them inside your journal or other handy spot so that you can review them every few days and see how you’re doing. It probably won’t be as miraculous or as sudden as the changes in the character’s lives, but I bet after a while you’ll see a significant difference in the way you feel and think about things. And those differences are in line with the eternal truths Heavenly Father wants desperately for each of us to understand.
Karen is also the author and illustrator of the book “Today, I Live… A Gift of Peace for Girls at any Age.” You can read more about Karen Eddington and the Theory of Purpose at www.thelandmarklist.com.
The Landmark List goes on sale in June 2009. You can pre-order it here.