A glossary offers philosophical observations on life.
Garcia begins his nonfiction debut by declaring two suppositions up front: that humans are “infinitely greater than the sum” of their genetics and that there’s much more at work in their lives than their intellects can perceive. But even readers who disagree with one or both of those assertions may very well be tempted to closely examine his book, which is structured along the lines of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary. General words are defined and examined for their deeper ramifications, allowing Garcia to expand on a wide variety of concepts, from desire and creativity to death and despair. Running through many of these elaborated definitions is a recurrent reminder to delve beneath the surface of things. In the section on “Disability,” for instance, the author asserts that the whole concept wrongly centers on physicality: “The body is nothing more than a tool and a vessel that is abled or disabled in accordance with the growth needs of the soul.” In the same vein is the entry on “Problems”: “If every problem has a solution, then every solution is buried within the problem itself.” Although his optimism can sometimes lead to overstatements, the tone of energetic positivity he maintains will appeal to readers regardless of their philosophical dispositions.
Garcia’s ruminations are suffused with a convincingly nondenominational spirituality. “God is not something you can quantify or put into a formula and come up with a result,” he writes in the section on the deity. “You can’t think God, you can only feel God; thus, God is an experience that remains unprovable to the purely scientific perspective.” But some of the author’s definitions verge on being decidedly odd. He writes, for instance, that feeling guilty about anything is just self-sabotage even though some concerns are obviously justified. Along the same lines, his section on “Confusion” begins: “Confusion is nothing more than being humble and teachable.” Yet most readers will have met at least a few people who are very bewildered without being humble or teachable. Still, his insistence that the audience thoroughly inspect his categories from all angles comes to his rescue time after time, filling his writings with a kind of low-key wisdom. For example, he reminds his readers that addiction is at least as much about an inner lack as it is a particular chemical. And he delivers a long, illuminating section on sex. His choice of structuring the book as a dictionary necessarily makes straightforward, linear reading a disjointed experience—the volume is ideal for random browsing. But his cheerful and forgiving humanism is present everywhere, which helps to bolster the work. “When you place yourself in a humble state of receptivity,” Garcia writes in what might stand as the book’s motto, “you will be astounded to realize that you are not—nor were you ever—alone in this adventure called life.”
A worthy series of upbeat, empowering meditations organized as dictionary entries.