Becoming Real

Authenticity In An Age of Distractions
Author: Robert Sessions
Release Date: 09/23/2011
ISBN: 9781888160574
Price: $21.95
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Review in the Iowa City Press-Citizen media

We live in a frenzied world. Many of us find that the relentless pace and constant distractions of our lives greatly limit our abilities to do anything well, including forming an authentic identity. Being authentic is such a struggle that many people have given up the quest for an integrated, whole self. Becoming Real addresses this critical personal and cultural crisis. Through personal stories, spiritual ruminations, and philosophical analysis, Sessions explores what it means to be authentic—suggesting paths to follow for those who wish to lead more genuine and happy lives.

A native of South Dakota, Robert Sessions earned a BA from Drake University and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan.  He has taught philosophy and humanities at four colleges, including twenty-six years at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City.

From the Introduction:

The signs and symptoms are everywhere: contemporary humans, especially in America, are hungry. They are searching for something difficult to name or describe and thus doubly difficult to find. Many people join groups such as those that revolve around motorcycles or tailgating parties only to discover that these associations offer only thin gruel to feed this hunger. Others seek extreme, adrenaline-driven activities to fill the void they feel deep in their beings, only to realize that such thrills fall short of satisfying this deep desire. Still others flock to gated communities to live among people just like themselves only to learn that the comfort and convenience they find provides a lightness of being rather than the gravity they need. You can almost hear the refrain of those who desperately try to fill this void with recognition of their material success or being a cool trend-setter: I have exercised my freedom to define myself and have succeeded in becoming unique and recognized, yet I still feel a deep yearning in my soul.

In Becoming Real, philosopher Robert Sessions argues that what people desire is authenticity, a deep sense of being real.  He contends that many people cannot attain this elusive quality of being because of the myriad distractions that keep them from a genuine quest and because they are looking for the wrong thing in the wrong ways and in the wrong places. This book clarifies what authenticity is and how our distractions keep us from it, and finally Sessions suggest some fruitful paths people might follow in their quests for more authentic lives.

“The authenticity we seek, he concludes, is not either/or. It is both/and. It is both love and courage, hope and faith, autonomy and connection, male and female, right and left, small town values and big city awareness. Spend a day with this marvelous philosopher of work and life. You owe it your authentic self.”—Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World

“Becoming Real examines real issues in a clear and practical manner. It is part of the new road map we need to create a livable future.”—John de Graaf, co-author, Affluenza and What’s The Economy For, Anyway?

“A book whose real authority comes from the authenticity of its author, who himself spent time wandering through a dark woods before finding some light, and has been circling around that universal experience and sharing humanity’s learnings about identity with his students ever since.”—Rev. Benjamin Webb, author, Fugitive Faith

“An eloquent case that this planet would be a lot more livable if we could just get real.”—Joe Robinson, author, Don’t Miss Your Life and Work to Live