Sunday, August 25, 2013

Letting Go Henri Nouwen Style

“It is our great illusion that life is a property to be owned or an object to be grasped, that people can be managed or manipulated.”  Henri Nouwen

I’m a control freak.  I recognize this about myself.  Everything in its place; everything planned; everything on time, or I’m irritated.  I was well into adulthood before I realized other people weren’t usually like me.  I’m much more relaxed now than I used to be, but I still function better in an organized space, following a routine.  The problem with being a control freak is that you can’t control the people around you, the people you love.

In part two of Henri Nouwen’s Turn My Mourning Into Dancing, he addresses the issue of learning to let go and of realizing how much happier your life will be if you learn to relinquish control.  The metaphorical theme he employs in this part is of trapeze artists, noting “Before they can be caught they must let go.”  Personally, I cannot imagine letting go of a swing in mid-air and trusting someone else to time the catch correctly enough to save me from a fall.  Maybe that’s a good metaphor for why I am single, because Nouwen goes on to quote CS Lewis’s observation, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.”  And I suck at being vulnerable.  It’s not in my nature.  Vulnerability implies giving over control, and well, we’ve already determined I’m a control freak.  

Nouwen asserts that life, love, the journey, all of it, is not about our ability to choreograph every step, but about our willingness to let it drag us along, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes laughing and reveling, to ends and destinations we can’t foresee.  When we try to assert our will over our lives, we are also trying to assert our will over those around us, with no regard for what they might want or need.  The truth is that we are all self-centered; we all want what we want.  The question is can we let go enough to love what we get and let go of what we think we want?  It’s so hard not to be afraid of the unknown.  It’s so hard not to try to control and organize everything, but we’ll never find out what waits for us if we don’t learn to let go of the known and accept the unknown.  Live outside your comfort zone; try something new. Be afraid; it's ok. You'll be amazed what your life can become.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This Year's Beach Reads

This year at the beach, I finished three books, two of which were written for the YA crowd.  The adult book I finished was Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  I enjoyed the novel, but it was not my favorite Kingsolver, although she is one of my favorite authors.  I completely identified with Dellarobia’s plight in her marriage and family, feeling trapped and hopeless and trapped by that hopelessness.  So much of what she felt and thought were my own feelings and thoughts when my children were small.  Strange how much I miss those little kids now.  I didn’t feel like Kingsolver fully developed the plot line, though.  The plot either seemed to jump around a bit or seemed like pieces were left out.   Being a nature freak (as opposed to a freak of nature, which may also be true, but is a post for a different blog), I loved the butterfly lessons scattered throughout the novel.  

The second book I read was Wonder by RJ Palacio.  I’ve been putting off reading this story of a genetically differently formed child for a while, because I was afraid it would disturb or depress me, but it did neither.  It ended up being quite uplifting and even caused me to shed a tear, which, in reality, isn’t all that difficult to elicit.  I loved the quote/theme of “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind” (Wayne Dyer).  How much easier life would be if we could all just do that.  

And finally, my third beach read was Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.  I’m a sucker for quests / journeys of self-discovery, but this one left me a bit cold.  I felt like the Pi story embedded in the main plot line was redundant.  It was like reading the same story twice, just with different characters.  I think I would have liked the book a lot more without the unnecessary repetition.  I did love the themes of how people see and think and feel and reason so very differently and how important it is for us to embrace all these different paths on the same journey.  I absolutely loved the way Vanderpool tied the story lines up in a neat little box in the epilogue.  I am a lover of neat little boxes.

And now, back to reality and less reading time.  Much sadness.

How to Save a Life, One Day at a Time

photo by Amy Brandon   "Little things heal our hurts. Sounds, scents, the spoken word, and music that may mean nothing to someon...