I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion, by Dawna Markova, is part memoir, part self-help, and part inspirational. In order to rediscover her own purpose and passion in life, Markova spent six months living alone in a cabin in Utah. The book follows her journey through these six months, as she addresses the different aspects of purpose and passion. She recounts many personal experiences from throughout her life as well as from her time in the cabin. Markova’s first-hand illustration of how one person explored deep into herself to reclaim her life is highly inspirational. It shows that it is actually possible, that she is not just talking in the abstract. She is a living example of her own words, thus making them very powerful. Her book could also be considered self-help, but in a mellow, guiding kind of way, as opposed to a firm set of steps. One aspect I particularly liked was the way she ended almost every chapter by asking the reader to now consider the questions she has been asking in the context of his or her own life. Thus, after having asked some questions and addressed how she went about exploring them for herself, she gently guides the reader into asking the same questions. As you read you have most likely already been thinking about your own life, but when she addresses you directly (“and you, dear reader”), you feel that you are part of a conversation and now it is your turn.
Markova gets a little spirtual in a few places, such as in her description of her near-death experience (or actual death experience – she says she was actually considered dead and being brought to the morgue when she came back to consciousness), but this did not detract from her many important messages even though I am not a particularly spiritual person myself. I simply understand that she was explaining the events that happened to her in the terms that she understands them; if the same events happened to me I might use different terms to explain them, but I can still learn something from her experience.
I took many things away from reading I Will Not Die an Unlived Life. One is the importantance of living authentically. Throughout our day and life we are constantly telling stories, explaining the things that happen to us in ways that make us feel safe and non-threatened. However, we are in danger of hiding from ourselves when we layer everything in stories. It is challenging and frightening to try to stop telling these stories and simply be in the moment, experiencing life. However, this is one of the many things one must do on the path to discovering what one is truly passionate about. Another aspect to this is that purpose is not a destination. Rather, each person’s purpose is a path, a guiding direction for how the person makes decisions and lives his or her life. Purpose is an ongoing process of exploration, not a stagnant ending goal. Although I think I had tried to think this way before, Markova expressed it beautifully and it really sunk in that purpose is not something to wait for. I need to live my life with purpose and passion now, because if I don’t I can’t expect to suddenly come across my purpose at some later point.
I feel as if I may have read I Will Not Die an Unlived Life too fast, because it contains so many layers and questions and things to think about. Markova’s beautiful writing flowed easily and thus it was easy to read fast and perhaps not spend enough time thinking about each different aspect of purpose and passion that she brought up. Luckily I own the book so I can re-read all or part of it whenever I feel inspired to.