A businessman and former U.S. Marine shares his reflections on embracing a spiritual philosophy of life in this debut poetry collection.
“I will never be able to prove my answers to someone. But I can develop a personal belief system that gives me purpose, hope, satisfaction, happiness, and a sense of serene fearlessness.” So concludes “My Simple Questions,” the first of a series of generally one-page contemplations on what Billings terms “serentrepidism”—the act of being serene as well as intrepid in dealing with life. Other entries include “The Perfection of Imperfection,” in which the author notes, “I believe imperfection is allowed in the world to give me purpose, to give me motivation, and to give me opportunities to help others.” Although the author repeatedly mentions his belief in God, he also expresses other, nuanced thoughts regarding religion, as in “Don’t Pray for Me,” in which he says that he’d rather that a person “do something for me,” such as an act of kindness, and “Can I Be Half Christian?” in which he states, “I believe humans made Jesus divine after his death” but that Christianity still offers “one of the best moral philosophies on living.” He separates his reflections with dedicated pages of quotations, highlighting the wisdom of well-known figures (journalist Dorothy Thompson, Confucius, and others) as well as Josh Billings, one of the author’s relatives. Throughout the book, Billings effectively showcases his appealing, affirmative perspectives. By being more inquiring than dogmatic, he delivers on his promise to make his musings serve the purpose of “provoking deeper thought and help in developing more acute critical thinking skills.” His essay-poems are both sweet and artful, with some catchy titles (such as “My Bible Died”) and powerful use of repetition; many lines in “I Control Me,” for example, begin with “I refuse to allow….” None of what the author discusses is particularly new or earth-shattering, but he certainly presents a worldview worth having.
Open-minded, uplifting exploration.