A memoir of strenuous soul-searching by a former Exxon executive who failed to find fulfillment in a successful corporate career.
There are two main threads between the covers of this slender volume: one, a story the author hopes will help other career executives balance their work and personal lives; the other, the story of a scientist who eventually accepts nonscientific therapies during a journey of self-discovery—a journey takes him through a series of oddly named experiences, such as a class named “The White-Hot Yoga for Awakening and Awakened Agents of Change,” a support group called “Temple of the Beloved” and a program called “Waking Down in Mutuality. Those who doubt the efficacy of those therapies may find it difficult to make it through Epperly’s story of what happened after he lost his executive position, at age 51, during a major corporate downsizing that ended his distinguished 29-year career at Exxon. After Exxon, Epperly continued his chemical engineering work at two other companies, focusing on innovative ways to reduce industrial acid-rain pollutants, before retiring at 61. He achieved professional and financial success, but a painful childhood left him with feelings of inadequacy. As an only child, he witnessed frequent fights between his mother and alcoholic father, and Epperly feared that his mother might abandon him if she decided to flee the marital hardship. That fear was the “core wound” Epperly identified after many therapeutic experiences, including channeling, meditation, visualization and spiritual self-assessment. He credits his wife with leading him on the journey of self-discovery that directed them away from the Presbyterian Church in which they were active and into secular therapies. “She longed for a deeper intimacy in our marriage,” he writes, “something that I was clueless about at the time.” A less-personal narrative style would most likely be more useful to executives seeking the work-life balance that eluded Epperly, and the fact that some passages read like advertisements for seminars the author attended doesn’t help the book’s appeal, either.
Insightful and refreshingly honest, if readers can get past the therapeutic jargon.