We are each writing our own story in the Book of Life. Finding the right title is an important part of our story.
FINDING THE TITLE TO YOUR BOOK
We are all writing a life story in the book of life. Some of us already know that, some are just finding out and others don’t have a clue. Regardless of where you are at, finding a proper title to the book is a very important part of this effort, whether you do it consciously or unconsciously.
There seem to be two different ways to find the title to your book, by either: (a) getting totally involved with the details of your life and then summarizing those details succinctly with a clever and meaningful string of words which capture the essence of your life, or (b) thinking of a meaningful title first and then exploring all the personal meanings and experiences those few words can signify. Maybe we do both without realizing it?
It seems as though we are often three quarters to where we are going before we have a name for where we are. And so, it may serve a purpose to find a title to the book we are writing every decade, just to see where it is headed, just in case we aren’t that happy where we are and want to make some serious changes. Here are the titles of my fist six books for each decade of my life:
First ten years.
The title of my first book when I reached the ten year milestone was, “The Joy of Early Morning Gardening & How To Really Kill an Annoying Weed.” I was a young entrepreneur with a neighborhood landscaping business, using my income to buy school clothes since I preferred a different style of clothes than my parents preferred to buy or pay for. I was extremely joyful and a superb weed-killer, roots and all, especially with pre-historic dandelions, which seemed to go all the way to China.
Of course what I didn’t realize at the time was that my father was instilling in me the important value of tenacity, which was a fiat for not quitting anything. You see, I always had to mow my own oversized lot and weed the 50-yard garden for free with a push mower and cultivator, before I could go make any money elsewhere. My schedule was always delayed a day or two, working in my own backyard. This was a dual lesson which I am just understanding now as I write this. Hmmm.
Second Ten Years.
The day I turned 20 I was guarding a bomb dump out in the boonies of Ben Hoa Airbase, South of Saigon in Vietnam. The silly part was that all the enemy had to do was launch an undetected rocket from far outside of the unsecured perimeter and it was goodbye bomb dump and Billy-boy too. Good thing my political mother didn’t know this, because she would have protested with Lyndon Johnson.
The title to my book then was, “Be Very Careful About What You Want, Because You Will Eventually Get It, Just Not At The Time Or Way You Expect.” I can distinctly remember my mother’s reply to my loud tirade of wanting some guns as a 5 year-old toddler, that were teasingly displayed at the top of the food bins at the A & P we shopped at. She said, “Billy, you can have all the guns you want when you turn twenty-one.” I can hear those words now. Well, at 20 years old I looked around at my AR-15, two 45’s and M-60 and realized I had gotten my wish a year early or 15 years late, depending upon where I was seeing things from!. And at that point, I wasn’t sure because the LSD and free love of the sixties took over.
Third Ten Years.
The next ten years between 20-30 must have flown by so quickly, I didn’t have the time to think about where I was or where I was going, because I can’t even think of a proper title to a book covering this period of my life. Maybe the book title was, “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun.” Or maybe it was all just a giant flashback from the Beatles and Rolling Stones, whoever knew back then. Did anyone really know what time it was?
Of course, maybe I was lusting up at the moon and not paying attention to where my feet were planted or pointing towards. And, as I later discovered, this is the time I started to make many mistakes in my life that I didn’t want to acknowledge. So, rather than commit myself to playing my best game, I stayed on the sidelines watching and being entertained. Looking back, I think time actually dragged by for these ten years, but I just didn’t realize that. Of course I had a lot of “truths” that I was convinced of in my head, but didn’t have a clue about what my heart and soul needed. Pretty empty life.
Fourth Ten Years.
My book title for this period was definitely, “The Power of Likeability.” But as we all typically do, I didn’t actually practice what I preached. I knew all about how to use the most appealing parts of my personality and character to be successful, but only to tell others how to do this rather than actually doing it myself. Sure, I had lots of followers and was successful by all normal assessment standards, but oh my, when I think how much more successful I could have been by applying all my best advice, I begin to feel the only regrets I have ever had with my winding road approach to life. Plus I had to leave my work and life in Australia which I definitely did not want to do.
Fifth Ten Years
This period in my life took me from the safe sidelines to where all the bruises, broken bones and bleeding happens in the game. There were a couple of lost years here that turned out to be my salvation—dark, dismal times at the end of a tunnel where the light seemed to be a freight train headed my way—homeless, penniless, jobless and almost hopeless and humorless. But the two key values my parents gave me, optimism and stick-to-itness, eventually taught me how to know myself and accept myself for who I was and where I was. Here I realized the gap between where you are and where you want to be is mostly imaginary and self-imposed. All I really had to do is learn how to bring the finish line closer before I started running faster.
The title to this book at 59 years of age would have to be “ADHD: Curse of Gift. As it turns out it can be both, unless you are over-medicated with the Ritalin cure, which I wasn’t. My “gift” is now remembering all the unattended-to data that bombarded my brain over the years, which now services a bottom-less well of creativity. An alternative title to this decade’s book might also be called, “Nothing Is New, It Is Just Old & Retold.” Oddly, both these titles stimulated a real book of mine during these years, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too,” for obvious reasons.
Sixth Ten Years
As I get into this next decade of my life, I have decided to think of the book title to these next ten years before they are completed. I don’t have the title in mind yet, but I am getting close. It will be something like, “The Bow-Wow Secrets: How Dogs Live Simple Lives & People Don’t. This book has already been written and successful in India, but the proof will come in this next year or so, here in North America.
I seem to be moving towards simplifying my life, which could prove to be a real challenge, given my need for such a constant variety of intense stimulations. Maybe it is time to do this, instead of just talking about it in books. But this would mean another book, afterwards, especially if I am successful. Maybe, the most apropos title to the book of my life is, “Finding the Title to Your Book.”
What is your book title?
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security, Business Success Coach, Sport Psychologist, Writer and Photographer from Issaquah, WA. He can be reached for comments and questions at bcottringer.pssp.net or (425) 454-5011.
Site: The Prosperity Zone
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|Reviewed by William Cottringer
|Hey I am now in my 7th decade and am still fiddling with my book title. I know my mission though--you can only ge genuinely successful and authentically happy by thinking and acting the right way to get there! Bill C.|
|Reviewed by John Gasparro Jr.
|William: While in the Marine Corps in 1965; I had a similar experience as you in Vietnam. Actually off the coast of DaNang. I was on a search and destroy mission in the Gulf of Tonkin and we were being chased by a Russian submarine--that was trying to torpedo us. We were all ordered to General Quarters as the ship zig-zagged out of harms way. I thought then--as I lay up against the bulkhead--;a torpedo could come crashing through any moment, and we will all be blown to pieces and scattered all over the Pacific ocean. Like the others; I waited, second by second. Waiting for death.
|Reviewed by Rhonda Drogo (Reader)
|Awesome read, I like your style! Your a great guy. :) R.|
William S. Cottringer