I recently had a new friend recommend this book to me, and I was so impressed with the questions it raises that I knew I had to share it with you!
In David Brooks’ The Second Mountain, he asks what it means to lead a meaningful life in an increasingly self-centered world. He explores the commitments that define our life and give it meaning and purpose – to our spouse and family, to our careers, to our faith or philosophies, and to our communities.
Brooks posits that in trying to give our life meaning to these commitments, we climb two mountains. When we first get out of school, we choose a career and begin climbing the mountain we think we’re supposed to climb. That first mountain’s goals are the ones our culture pushes us towards – to be a success, to make our mark, to experience some level of personal happiness. But once we get to the top of that mountain, we realize that that wasn’t the mountain we were meant to climb at all.
Climbing the Second Mountain
In the first part of our lives, we focus so much on our career and what we want that we often find that once we get “there,” it’s not what we wanted at all. This, Brooks says, is when we embark on a new journey and start on our second mountain.
On the second mountain, we move from the self-centered to the other-centered. We begin to want the things that are truly worth wanting, not the things that others tell us we should want.
Instead of independence, Brooks suggests that for us to have meaning in our lives we should be embracing a life of interdependence to those commitments that define our life. In his book, he looks at a variety of people who have lived joyous, committed lives and who have embraced the necessity of dependence. Through their examples, he shows how we can pick a vocation, choose a partner, live out our philosophy, and to integrate our commitments into one overriding purpose.
Leading a Meaningful Life
One thing I have loved about this book is how much it gets me thinking about the life I lead. About how I can make a deeper connection and commitment to the community and people around me – and use my individual talents to help others.
I promise this is worth the read!