Book Review: The Road Less Traveled

A dirt path along a green shrubbed road

Like Tuesdays with Morrie, the book I read and reviewed a few weeks ago, my latest review is on a book that I read about twenty years ago. It too was more compelling than ever. This book is The Road Less Traveled, by Dr. Scott Peck. Let me start off by saying Dr. Peck's observations (as a psychiatrist and human being) are incredible and there is a reason this book sold millions.

Just like in the book I read before, age, experience, relationships, and heartbreak, change how we view everything. Life is hard (which is how he opens up the book... I don't know of a better opener than that). But, he points out one fact that got me underlining and highlighting scores of paragraphs and it was this - which also sums up the book: we are lazy.

While I balked at this, because I don't consider myself lazy, he began to explain away my scoffing and excuses. He began to prove his point. He says this:


"The myth of Adam and Eve can again be used to illustrate this [laziness]. One might say, for instance, that it was not laziness that prevented Adam and Eve from questioning God as to the reasons behind His law but fear --fear in the face of the awesomeness of God, fear of the wrath of God. But while all fear is not laziness, much fear is exactly that. Much of our fear is fear of a change in the status quo, a fear that we might lose what we have if we venture forth from where we are now.... the basis of fear is laziness, it is the fear of the work they [Adam and Eve] would have to do.... " 

This blew me away. Fear is synonymous with laziness. He goes on to say, 

"We have a sick self and a healthy self. No matter how neurotic or even psychotic we may be, even if we seem to be totally fearful and completely rigid, there is still a part of us however small that wants us to grow, that likes change and development, that is attracted to the new and the unknown and that is willing to do the work and take the risks involved in spiritual evolution. And no matter how seemingly healthy and spiritually evolved we are, there is still a part of us, however small, that does not want us to exert ourselves, that clings to the old and familiar, fearful of any change or effort desiring comfort at any coast and absence of pain at any price...."

What really got me believing he was right was looking at my writing background. I wrote a middle-grade book over ten years ago, but I desire to write more... and yet, I haven't been willing to do the background work to get there. I've written words, but haven't had others read them, nor have looked for an editor to look at it, to get an agent to look at it. These things have hindered me. 

I should've started writing for children with younger children's magazines first, writing short stories for them, then moved on to longer stories for older kids, and getting published there too. I should've joined a children's writing group and reached out to local writing groups... all sorts of things. But, I was lazy. I wanted to bypass all of that because- why? Because these things are hard and they are fear-based ideas (for me). It's rejection, more hard work, more sacrifice, and then even more rejection.

But, life is hard.

I don't get a pass just because things are hard. I'm not naturally gifted at writing, I've had to work at it, so I wasn't going to be the next Stephanie Meyers (Twilight Series) who randomly wrote and submitted, got accepted, and sold a bajillion books. That's abnormal. 

So Peck was right. Laziness is the issue. It's up to me to change this. And I've begun. I've joined SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and I'm going to try to get connected to more writers. I've begun to write more - not books but articles and also children's short stories and poetry. Things I can get published through magazines that can help me acquire the skills to write better, and hopefully, more books. Study the craft, read more books, take seminars, and listen to what others have done.

Fear leads to laziness but once we see it and try to change that part of us, I think we've begun to live the life God intends. In all areas, though. Not just our work, but our relationships. I've been lazy in areas of my marriage, in raising my kids, and in my friendships. All of these valuable things stay valuable and real if I remain active. Reaching out to friends when I don't want to; addressing my children's needs when I feel I've already done enough for them; and being the wife my husband needs, not the one I think he needs. All of that. As Peck says, "An essential part of discipline is the development of an awareness of our responsibility and power of choice."

It's up to me to choose to not be lazy. Everyday.

Read the book. The Road Less Traveled is essentially a self-help book with a HUGE dose of honesty that serves to help and protect all of us if we listen to and heed Dr. Peck's honest and brilliant advice.

Five stars.


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