Updated: Jul 23, 2019
by John C Parkin
This book was sent to me. I'm almost too terrified to read it. Even on googling it, I had to turn off Safe Mode on my laptop! Porn, porn everywhere!
We are all in prison: granted it is a mental one, not a real one (unless of course, you're in a real one too) - a prison which means things that needn't matter much, matter enormously, and things that matter enormously, don't matter much. This book is about changing our mental status quo - getting out of the abusive relationship that is our thinking.
In a very obvious way, the author argues, we have replaced spiritualism with materialism. In the past, when science was infinitely less complicated, not even at GCSE or O-Level, humans could only explain life in spiritual terms. Now we have science degrees and everything, we rely less on spirituality and more on provable 'facts'. In this book, Mr Parkin, says 'F**k it to anything set into fixed theories or explanations'.
That said, he strongly advocates not killing someone because they don't believe what you believe.
Prisons, that is the set beliefs and behaviours we have imposed on ourselves, enable us to feel safe - and yet they are not comfortable or easy places to be. They are, when devised, a means to get us through a period of time in our lives, and only then become prisons when applied to a evolved set of circumstances.
In the prison that is our mind, there are several (cell) blocks in which we can reside. They are
Everyone has a story (of woe)
Fear is what traps us
Taking stuff too seriously
Lack of consciousness
Lack of imagination
(Dis-)Believing what's real
The remedy, of course, is to say Fuck it, or F**k it if you're of the sensitive persuasion, to all of those thoughts.
The next third of the book focuses on how to fuck it - or as they call it use magic to walk through walls. Teaching the body how to relax, and how to energize it. I was left mindful at this point as to why a British author opted for the American spelling of 'energise' given how frequently he refers to British cultural facets, complete with footnotes on them. Ditto Neutralize. Still, the usual advice is there: meditate, be mindful, be grateful. What was refreshing was Bob the Buddha to describe mindfulness in action - infinitely more simple than many self-help books. Bob, however, is grateful and mindful about doing the dishes. Seriously. Bob needs to get out more.
Unthink it, which his wife more ethereally calls 'Enlightened Unconsciousness' - try to work out what your opinions are, and unthink them. I found that quite useful, especially, as I'm prone to being analytical and overthinking, the backbone to fear and trepidation. Then of course, feel it and express it.
I think, and this is my opinion that I will need to refeel, unthink and probably restate, is that this book just tries too hard to be funny. It's very autobiographical about their lives, their values and their ways of seeing things, in a way I found unpersuasive. It aims to be simple, which is great if you are a novice at self-care, but all too often I ended up feeling like it's an over-complicated marketing ploy to get me on their retreat where I could learn to do it properly.
I've learnt that it's a rare thing that people read beyond the first half of a self-help book - and I agree. I love the dramatic intros of self-helps, the tales of woe is me, the blaming of life, love and one's parents for how things have turned it. I can relate to that stuff. Having stimulated my appetite, they then get rather tedious quite quickly. Self-help books often use this format, and then only begin to tackle suggested remedies (be grateful, be mindful, practise meditation...but with their own 'unique' variation) at the second half. This book uses the prison analogy, but it's so lengthy I've long since forgotten which wing of my prison, each technique is supposed to be helping with. For me, the ideal self-help book takes one or two simple notions, and then gets down to the nitty gritty so that you can work on one aspect at a time, rather than your whole life at once. In short, this book lacks a coherent focus.
I shall persevere because that's what I do best. Hanging about in the middle-bit griping a lot.
Probably the best chapter was how John focused on his issues around money and fear - two things that do resonate with a lot of people, and how he manifest money instead and that's how he ended up finding the funds for the Fuck It Retreats.
The latter third was a collection of how to say 'fuck it' in certain situations. John said 'Fuck it' to his weight problem. John said 'Fuck it' to other people's put-downs. John shows you how he wrangles a hotel room upgrade. John has a row with his wife. I don't think he said 'Fuck you'.
I think there's tons of potential in this book, I just don't think he quite reached it. Too long, too labouring and too little structure.
Thank Fuck, it's over.