THEA EURYPHAESSA has a completely different name at the start of this book. And that’s just one of the things in her life awaiting transformation – there’s also the unrewarding job, the wrong boyfriend, the pile of debts, the claustrophobic relationship with her mum and the pervading sense of inadequacy. When depression hits, the writer realises something has to change. So she embarks upon an adventure of self discovery - a ‘hero journey’ as mythologist Joseph Campbell called it.
But anyone who has begun a similar awakening will find themselves in wonderful company here, and even those readers who relate only to Euryphaessa’s unhappiness and passion for positive change
This, of course, is no easy thing. You can’t just set your Sat Nav to ‘authentic self’ then sit back and enjoy the ride. But as Euryphaessa follows signs, quits her job, travels, backtracks, buys a house, gets stuck again, meets mentors, follows her instincts, sells her house, changes her name and – perhaps most importantly of all – learns the language of the hero quest in the form of archetypes, mythology and alchemical symbolism, she also does something else.
She runs three Marathons, in London, New York and Athens. These become her own personal dragons to slay, in order that she might achieve a more meaningful, happier life.
Euryphaessa chose to self publish her book because she wanted to ‘honour the soul’s wrinkles and knotty irregularities’. While a traditional publishing route would certainly have tidied up the contents for easier reading, the writer’s instinct to go it alone was an understandable one.
Running Into Myself is absorbing, fascinating, candid, a bit messy, individual but magically universal - a perfect reflection, then, of the spiritual journey itself.
The book’s mixture of memoir, symbolism, mythology and psychology does take a bit of getting used to, but stick with it. The weaving of ideas works to great effect as Euryphaessa explores the myths that have guided truth-seekers for centuries, then returns to her own experiences to see what illumination such symbols can offer.
Euryphaessa writes engagingly about the process of self discovery, a process which can be difficult to articulate and even harder to communicate (as viewers of the film adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love will yawningly testify). This is down to its dependence on the personal significance of seemingly innocuous encounters and small but life-changing details.
But anyone who has begun a similar awakening will find themselves in wonderful company here, and even those readers who relate only to Euryphaessa’s unhappiness and passion for positive change will find plenty to urge them onwards, if they’re ready to find it.
At every step, Euryphaessa shares the signposts that aided her search for a more fulfilling life, from the writings of Campbell and Jung and the benefits of Reiki to the tale of the Handless Maiden and the significance of dreams, songs lyrics and chance meetings (including with Manchester Confidential’s very own editor, who will be delighted to know that he’s an archetype of the Messenger god Hermes).
As much manual for self discovery as it is personal memoir, Euryphaessa’s numerous experiences, excerpts, references and quotes are like pebbles left shining in the moonlight for like minds to follow.
The success of Eat, Pray, Love proved that there’s a market for matter-of-fact, honest and humorous books about living a more authentic life and, with its blend of open-hearted memoir and its astute, accessible re-telling of myths and symbols, Running into Myself is an absorbing, intelligent and life-affirming read that deserves a wide audience.
With a sequel promised, I look forward to seeing where Euryphaessa finds herself next.
Running Into Myself: A Journey Through the Soul of the Feat by Thea Euryphaessa (Troubador, £12.50)
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