By Rick Lindal $16.95; AuthorHouse; 210 pages
Slice of Life follows the odyssey of Rikki, a young boy transitioning to gay young man in Iceland. (Lindal, who grew up in Iceland, bases his tale on his own life story, and mixes in encounters with elves and trolls who populate the mythic plane of Iceland.) On his journey Rikki often seeks understanding from Old Soul, a spirit guide (fylgja in Icelandic).
The author, a practicing psychotherapist in Canada, on his website describes this book as a "… synthesis of spiritual, existential, and cognitive/behavioral approaches that will provide the reader with important concepts that are helpful for a reasonably successful opportunity in life." That's a mouthful and, wisely, Lindal only proffers "reasonably successful" as the payoff. Take it for what it's worth.
Lindal relies heavily on the influence of Viktor Frankl, noted Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who was a leader in existential therapy; Seth, a disembodied personality channeled by Jane Roberts in the 1960s; Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God); and Michael Newton, whose focus is "life-between-life" regression.
Slice of Life is therefore a hodgepodge of different philosophies and approaches to finding meaning in life. One would think if this topic is of interest to folks, they might start with the writings of the above-named, well-known figures in their fields, rather than the musings of a psychotherapist who prefers to draw on the background of magical creatures from his childhood.
But for the reader who seeks a fresh approach to this heavy topic, perhaps this is the ticket. Especially if you're young and gay and other sources don't provide the enlightenment you're seeking. Lindal, who is gay, counsels mostly adults, according to his website, but also young adults 16 and up. He appears to have the chops to address this age group. He received a PhD. at York University, England, while researching emotional responsiveness in adolescents; has worked at a youth custody prison facility; and directed an outreach program for mentally disturbed young adults. He has also worked as a therapist for victims of the AIDS epidemic.
Although Lindal explores other aspects of the meaning of life, we will focus here on what he has to say about recognizing and embracing one's sexual identity (if gay). On one of Rikki's first encounters with Old Soul, the spirit guide tells the youth to be himself unapologetically. Rikki asks, "What if people … judge me?" To this, Old Soul replies, "… what other people think of you is none of your business."
Later, Old Soul explains that people determine their gender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation at gestation. He reminds Rikki that the boy chose to be homosexual before he was born, in part because he wished to experience specific feelings that would provide him a depth of understanding for his future career as a therapist, working with AIDS victims (Lindal's word). In other words, Rikki set a challenge for himself.
Lindal apparently believes we all have predetermined our life paths. Some of us rise to the challenge we set for ourselves and others do not, in his understanding of the forces that shape our lives. This is a hard belief system to embrace, particularly if one is struggling with issues of self-esteem, direction, and isolation. If you are seeking answers, you may find them in Slice of Lifeor you may just end up more confused.
For the reader who is comfortable with his or her life choices and life path, this book would seem just a curious detour. But for its creative approach, it's perhaps worth a look.