4 out of 4 stars
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And Then I Met Margaret: Stories of Ordinary Gurus I’ve Met is a creative non-fiction book written by Rob White who recounts his life with a thought evoking memoir form. Very cathartic, funny and satisfying to the soul. It will leave you with a unique desire to expand your inner awareness of everyday life and what it can offer you and how you can share the pay it forward message.
Raised in a small community comprised of few options for a young person’s growth, leaving most male high school graduates with two options, factory 1 livelihood or factory 2 livelihood. Rob, after encountering various life lessons, saw clearly what he wanted his next step in life to be. Realizing his dreams needed outside influences, he became college bound and set out on a venture few in his hometown chose. Rob went on to teach, create a successful real estate business and become a restauranteur. At one point in mid-life he ventured out to experience unknown exciting paths of exploration and also began seeking spiritual fulfillment to occupy a deep-down void.
The book is comprised of 21 chapters which are all short stories within themselves. The writing always paints outcomes from Rob stepping out, invoking his curiosities of how to, where to, what if and then with the universe delivering just the right portion of wisdom from just the right source. Whether the source was a teacher, a little girl, business man or patriarch, Rose Kennedy, Rob learned by trial and error to be aware of what was going on around him, within him and to listen and hear. Each chapter having a title of descriptive means of the coming story, a proposed “myth of belief” from Rob at the beginning of each new writing, being followed by life experience which Rob allowed willingly or unwillingly to show him the better way to go. The story lesson ending with not only repeating of Rob’s initial “myth of belief” but his learned “reality that I discovered” outcome of listening and learning from the chapters life story.
One of the stories I enjoyed the most and gives the reader a clearer understanding of how deep small-town loyalty went and the expectations that were thought to be set in stone was when Rob was going to get a haircut at the local barbershop. A friend of his suggested going to the next town over and getting a “style”, not a plain haircut. Rob wrestled with the idea and decided to do it. When the barber finished and Rob looked at his new style, he loved it, but the next few sentences from his story will clarify what he was up against as far as stepping out of the norm. “When my father arrived home from work and got a glimpse of my new haircut—was he ever angry! Not only had I broken with tradition—I’d spent an extra dime for such foolishness! Perhaps he was seeing that I wasn’t going to follow the path he intended for me". Even with the great respect for his father and his community it was instances such as this that coaxed Rob to cross over to other towns throughout his life and to be his own person.
The element of drawing the best of out of every situation and person was what I also liked. Another poignant piece and one of my favorites of Rob’s writing is as follows: "You can live a life of hesitation, or you can live a life of inspiration. A life of inspiration requires believing in yourself today more than yesterday. Supporting this belief requires taking on more—the more you dare to do, the more you can do”.
As for what I didn’t like about the book, the only thing I can think of would be that I wanted more. The ebb and flow of the storyline would build momentum, balance out and then ease into the closure with an aha moment and then another story followed. One of those easy reads I couldn’t put it down until I had read all of it.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It reflects humor, disappointment, sorrow, appreciation and human awareness in an all-encompassing well written fashion. Well edited with few typos. I highly recommend this read to anyone enjoying truth and introspection that is mixed with moments of gentle suspense of wondering what’s going to happen to this guy next.
And Then I Met Margaret
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