So many of today’s biographies are written with the intention of sharing the author’s struggle to overcome tragedy, turning it into joy. Life, the Spiritual Sport stands above the rest. Jon Root, author and gold medallist in men’s volleyball in the 1988 South Korean Olympics, took on the Herculean task of putting his life on paper. As a young boy, Root’s family was distracted and detached from him and his needs. The story begins here and weaves its way through his discovery of sports, achievements, pain, loss and ultimately focuses on his spiritual journey to wholeness.

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Root’s storytelling is fascinatingly authentic. He views his life very clinically and provides detail in an emotionless way, setting the stage for his spiritual quest. Readers may expect that he has found his stride, his passion, but as Root admits, his life is a journey and not fully written. Readers will want to reach out and hug the author out of compassion for all he endured during his horrible childhood. With all of the discipline necessary for an Olympic athlete, you’d think he would be perfect, disciplined, unencumbered. But he’s just like us all.

The layout of his story is chronological and easy to follow. However, some of his thoughts are difficult to follow and incomplete in their details. The story is best read in long intervals to maintain continuity. This shouldn’t be a problem since it is hard to put down without obsessing about what happens next in his life. Shocking turn of events and slip-ups keep readers cheering for him in the hopes that he will find his way, solve his unresolved issues and gain that joy that eludes us all.

“…when we concentrate in order to pen a new story, we are influenced by our old story lines—some real, some perceived. Beliefs and assumptions we’ve concocted are indistinguishable from true experience. Often our objectivity becomes clouded by our past, which can stifle our creativity. And we don’t even notice. While in this place, it is difficult to separate from what no longer serves us.”

Some circumstances Root shares are unrelated to the ultimate goal of the book. But he writes about his spiritual experiences in beautiful detail, allowing readers to either relate to his life or want to relate. Life, the Spiritual Sport is wildly provocative, compelling and edgy enough to let readers see into the heart and mind of an accomplished, albeit wayward, athlete.

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