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The Present

Posted - Mar. 8, 2004 at 4:23 a.m.



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The Present by Spencer Johnson

I read the Present in a little more than a half hour while enjoying one of my favorite indulgences at Starbucks. There is something comforting about picking up a book so small that you know you can read it in a single setting.

Like its blockbuster predecessor, Who Moved My Cheese?, The Present is a parable, and as such, as the author points out, it's not what's in the story, but what you take out of it that gives it meaning. Spencer Johnson's latest bestseller is the story of an old man giving wisdom to a young man, and yet knowing that the wisdom he offers is not truly something that can be given, but only found for oneself.

The Present refers, perhaps a little too obviously, to the present moment. The book's message is to live in the present, to learn from the past and to prepare for the future. It has been criticized for being too simplistic, but this quality could also be seen as its greatest strength.

I must admit that I was not as moved by The Present as I was by Who Moved My Cheese?, not because the message was any less important, but because its delivery was less novel and one I have heard and thought on for much of my life. Having said that, it certainly helped me to think on it again. This is a lesson, living in the present moment, that all of us could do to focus on more often.

Spencer Johnson also has a wonderful way of saying the most profound things seemingly out of the blue, such as "Pain is the difference between what is, and what you want it to be," and "When you receive The Present, you no longer spend your time dreaming about being somewhere else."

If you don't expect novelty or innovation, but only an important lesson worth relearning, you will likely derive benefit from Spencer Johnson's best-selling book, The Present. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I'm Amanda Dickson.

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