“Michael Staples was barely old enough to drive a car as he enthusiastically boarded the bus that would be his first step to one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family drama he had defended himself against all his young life had crafted a would of fantasy, distorting his ability to see the danger in that step. Neither his enthusiasm nor his fantasy world would last much longer–both were on a collision course with reality–the reality of defusing bombs as a Marine in wartime Vietnam.

Focusing Emptiness is a story of personal evolution and transformation–weaving the impact of traumatic childhood and life experience with the mytho-poetic language of the unconscious. It speaks to everyone who has experienced trauma in their lives and wondered if the resulting defense mechanisms have colored their life choices.

This books tells the archetypal story of seeking and finding the lost child. It is a personal and honest exploration into the effects of seemingly “small” traumas, the journey of a young man from the small orange groves of southern California to the reality of war, martial arts in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the path to reclaiming and healing the inner landscape.”


*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review by the publisher. All opinions stated are my own.*

This was the first book I ever was asked to review here on the blog. That was almost 2 years ago. It is hard to believe it took me that long to read this beautifully written book.

This book had a ton of wonderful underlying messages. The author wasn’t just trying to get one point across but multiple. We, the readers, read through this book trying to uncover those messages and trying to figure out exactly why they were put there. That is why I loved this book so much.

As someone who rarely ever reads non-fiction, I had no idea what I would be taking out of this book when I finished it.

I came out with a greater understanding of a lot of different things.

This book talks about somethings I could very much connect with. The first section talks a lot about traumatic experiences the author went through as a child. He talks a lot about his dog and how hard the death of that dog was on him. As someone who witnessed the death of one of my pets just a few years ago that scared me for life, I found these chapters very relateable.

The next section talked about the author’s experiences fighting in the Vietnam war. I couldn’t really directly connect with these chapters as I have never served in the armed forces, but I know people who have. My dad served in the Army and I have many family members and friends who have served in the other branches of the military (particularly the Marines and the Air Force) so I feel that if they were to read this book, they might get something out of it that I wasn’t able to.

The final section of this book talked about martial arts. This is the section I couldn’t connect with at all. I had been interested in martial arts as a child but due to medical reasons, I was never able to participate in them. So when I read the last few chapters of this book that talked about this topic, I understood some of the things that the author was talking about but not all of them. If I had had a wider knowledge of the martial arts before going in, I probably would have been able to relate to it a little more.

Overall, I think this book was enjoyable. If you are in the mood for non-fiction and are looking for a quick read that will leave an impact on you, I would suggest trying this one out.

RATING: 4.5/5