James Imes’ motivational book, The Learnings of a Lifetime, is a curious mix of Christian teachings, business tips, observations about growing up in the ’50s and early ’60s— and much more. In fact, there are so many ideas thrown in here, that it’s difficult to summarize the author’s focus.
The first sentence of Imes’ preface, for example, notes that: “This book was written to help people.” In the next sentence, he says, almost apologetically, “Even though the first chapter has a lot of religious content in it, this book is not all about religion.” Then he proceeds to make many references to God.
Soon, Imes switches gears and presents five pages of affirmations he feels are important for living a meaningful life, focusing on ridding readers of resentment, opening them up to abundance and so on. These are followed by lessons learned about life via the school of hard knocks. In Chapter 6, the author lightens up with “Funny Observations and Great Truths” and winds down, in the final chapter, with his take on politics.
Throughout, Imes’ subjects range from witty insights (“Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree” or “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional”) to many that are silly and out of context (“No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats” and “You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk”). He touches on baby boomers, team sports, success, marriage and love – you name it. In sum, it’s a grab-bag at best.
With some much-needed editing and fastidious rearranging of material, Imes has the seeds of what could be a compelling collection of observations about life. As it stands, The Learnings of a Lifetime is a wide-ranging mix of psychobabble, advice and religious teachings likely to frustrate readers for its randomness as often as it engages them.