Author: John C. Parkin
No. of Pages: 224
First Released: July 2010
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “To say F**k It feels good. To stop struggling and finally do what you wish . . . to ignore what everyone is telling you and just go your own way . . . feels really great. In this inspiring and humorous book, John C. Parkin suggests that saying F**k It is the perfect Western expression of the Eastern spiritual concept of letting go, giving up, and finding real freedom by realizing that things don’t matter so much (if at all). It’s a spiritual way that doesn’t require chanting, meditating, or wearing sandals. And it’s the very power of this modern-day profanity that makes it perfect for shaking us Westerners out of the stress and anxiety that dominate our daily lives. So, find out how to say F**k It to all your problems and concerns. Say F**k It to all the shoulds in your life, and finally do what you want–no matter what other people think.”
Comments and Critique: I love snark, also called sarcasm. I tend to use it frequently, much to everyone else’s chagrin. When I saw this title on NetGalley, I thought I would be getting a wonderfully funny, irreverent book with a tongue-in-cheek presentation of philosophy. In a way, F*** It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way is indeed that but so much more.
Touted as akin to Taoism and other spiritual beliefs, the main premise of the F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way philosophy is letting go. Indeed, there is merit in this idea of letting go and the freedom one uses the phrase. According to Mr. Parkin, “The one thing you’ll always do when you really say, ‘F*** It’ is relax” and “problems can’t exist in the face of total relaxation” (p. 88-89). Mr. Parkin wants us to say the phrase to everything we do because it releases us from attaching too much meaning, too much pressure, too many expectations to everything we do. If one sits and thinks about it, and considers all the times where one has flung up his or her hands and declared “f*** it!”, Mr. Parkin is indeed on to something.
At first glance, it may appear that Mr. Parkin is attempting to tell the reader to ignore the laws and values of society, to just do his or her own thing. However, that is not true. Rather, Mr. Parkin is attempting to help the reader free him/herself from all the obligations and to allow one to enjoy everything has to offer. In essence, life is too short to stress about anything at all. Say “F*** it” (and truly mean it) and that stress disappears. It is not a giving up but a relaxation of one’s expectations of one’s job, society, and of life.
Parkin makes an excellent argument about his new philosophy. He uses children as a metaphor for life. Children notice every small detail and revel in them. They truly stop and take time to smell the roses. Somewhere along the way, they forget to relax and enjoy the details and get wrapped up in the big picture. As a result, they stop relaxing and stop enjoying life. Again, Mr. Parkin circles back to the idea of relaxation and letting going of meaning. Letting go of meaning is letting go of pressure and stress, which will in turn bring more good things to you. It’s very Tao-esque, is it not?
Unfortunately, what starts out as tongue-in-cheek good fun takes a turn for the serious when Mr.Parkin starts exploring the idea of chi and forms. As soon as he moves on to this idea of movement and releasing chi, the book loses some of its charms. It is such a juxtaposition that it undoes any of the learnings from the previous first-half of the novel. I personally enjoyed the irreverence and humor of the first half of the book and felt a bit like Mr. Parkin began to take himself too seriously. He has some great ideas and provides plenty of food for thought, and I personally wish he would have left the forms and chi discussion alone.
I chose this novel on a whim and am glad I read it. I know that his ideas have some value because I have personally felt how calming it is to say “F*** it” in certain situations. It does release tension and stress and helps me focus my energies on more important things, i.e. things under my direct control. Those easily offended by profanity should not read this book, although I suspect that the title alone is enough of a deterrent in that aspect. Those who are willing to step out of the philosophical box will enjoy Mr. Parkin’s ideas or at least come away with food for thought. In the end, F*** It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way may not be prize-winning literature, but it is enjoyable and worth the read for its fresh approach to life and all its demands.
Thank you to NetGalley for my free e-reader review copy!!