Sunday, December 21, 2014

Unbroken: "Out of the Whirlwind"

 
photo by Amy Brandon

"Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me. You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."     Job 42:1-6
 

(I've convinced Ken to write a guest post on Unbroken,
 because I know I will never read it.  Hope everyone enjoys
hearing from a different voice.)
 

In the Old Testament, there is a story about a man named Job who endures incredible suffering and loss. It is a grand work of literature, wrestling with deep and perhaps unanswerable questions about the whys and wherefores of the agonies that plague humanity. Much of the book revolves around the issue of the fairness of an omnipotent, all-loving God who would allow such unrelenting woe.

Job's epic came to mind as I read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. Having previously read her novel, Seabiscuit, I was looking forward to another good story and was not disappointed. For me, another draw to the book was the subtitle, A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, as the concept of redemption is one of my favorite subjects to savor.
 
The well-documented story line is a biopic of Louis Zamperini who grows up poor in Depression-era California in an Italian immigrant family struggling to make it. The survival aspect begins early as somehow Louis makes it through a childhood and youth of hell-raising. He is rescued from this period of perpetual trouble-making by his supportive family, particularly by an older brother who guides him through (and sometimes joins him in) shenanigans and who eventually steers him into a more productive form of release:  competitive running. Success in track propels Louis to a college scholarship where he meets with great success and then on to Olympic competition in Berlin, which lent a particularly interesting historical aspect to this segment. He is competitive but doesn't win, so he sets his sights on the next Olympic games in Tokyo where he will be more seasoned and primed for victory.
 
World War II intervenes, and Louis hangs up his cleats and is soon flying with a bombardier squadron. When his plane is shot down, he floats with three survivors of ten original crewmen for 47 days across 2000 miles of the Pacific. The writing is so compelling that you feel you are there! Starving, sun-roasted, shark-attacked, typhoon-lambasted...it's all there, even an albatross omen allusion. The ingenuity, resolve, tenacity, and sheer willpower to live are showcased. They are strafed by a passing Japanese Zero warplane for good measure, but somehow they endure. Finally they bump into the Marshall Islands, only to be captured by Japanese troops. And then the real nightmare begins.
 
I'll not detail the horrors of this episode, except to say it is one of the most graphic portrayals of brutality I have ever read. There is one gut-wrenching scene of monumental abuse of Louis and other POWs after another, seemingly ever more cruel and unusual. They become emaciated, humiliated, and dehumanized in all manner of ways. Yet somehow, somehow, somehow they cling to life and to some semblance of dignity. A sidebar on the importance of maintaining dignity is one example of the thought-provoking offerings from the author to augment the plot.
 
Then suddenly with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (again you feel as if you are there), it's all over. After the euphoria of release from all these tormented months, yet another perhaps more distressing crisis afflicts Louis. After reuniting with his family, whom we have kept up with throughout the tale, and marrying, he succumbs to PTSD:  horrible nightmares, flashbacks, fits of rage and the whole bit. At this point, I had to recheck the title. Unbroken? This man is obviously broken. His marriage falls apart. He becomes a bitter, uncaring, mean drunkard. What plane crash, ocean peril, and hellish pit of POW camp could not do to him appears to be carried out by everyday life in crushing this man's spirit. His desire to compete in track is dissolved by injuries inflicted in captivity. He has no resolve to work toward a future. What do you say, Job?
 
Then God speaks, but not out of a whirlwind as to Job.  Or perhaps it is a whirlwind...a human whirlwind -- one evangelist named Billy Graham. I will have to say I was "blown away" as this scene unfolds. Graham, at this point a relative unknown, came to Los Angeles and set up tent. Sparse crowds became larger. A staunchly resistant Louis (and we know FULL well by now how stubborn he can be!) is  badgered into going. He scoffs, and he dismisses. And then he remembers.  He remembers miraculously being released from wires that entangled him as his plane slipped beneath the waves while he was unconscious, and no one else was around. He remembers bullets peppering the raft as the men lay defenseless, and somehow, the bullets missed. And he remembered promises made to God if he survived, and something clicked. Louis Zamperini came to faith. He found his redemption. He then dedicates his life to helping others find the same, even going so far as to a return to Japan to forgive his tormenters.
 
 
~ Ken 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Well and There is Always the Land


photo by Anna Reavis

"But still one thing remained to him and it was his love for his land."
from The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck


Well and I surely do miss Old Wang Lung.  Ken and I finished The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck early last week, and I realized a few nights ago that I missed my nightly visit with Wang Lung, the main character.  Certainly he was an imperfect man, and sometimes hard to pity, but he was such a fully developed, well-rounded character that I feel as if I truly knew him, and now I miss him in my house.  I miss hearing about his adventures and misadventures, his ups and his downs, and his endless, fruitless striving for peace in his house.  And in the vein of most of the best novels, I miss a place and a time I've never actually experienced but feel as if I have.

So many themes were explored in this book: urban life versus rural life; leaving the land and returning to it; mobility versus being tied to the land; new ways and old ways; progress versus conventional wisdom; family values and loyalties and how we imperfect humans so often rip those suckers out and stomp them flat.

One strange thing about The Good Earth was the constantly repetitive use of the word "well" in the dialogue.  I'd be willing to bet this book contains the word "well" more than any other book ever published. At first I found it distracting, but then I, well, I guess I just came to accept it.  If anyone can shed any insight on this odd word overuse, I'd appreciate it.

The Good Earth is the first book in a trilogy about the Wang Lung clan, but the second and third book seem to be readily available only on Kindle.  My mountainous TBR pile warns me against buying them.  If anyone has read either of them (Sons or A House Divided) and would like to offer an opinion, please do so.

Well and I think I've said my peace for now.  Happy Hibernative Winter Reading!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Savagery Is Inevitable?



"And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."  from William Golding's Lord of the Flies

I finished Lord of the Flies a few days ago.  This book has the distinction of being the only book I've read along with both of my children during their senior years in high school.  Before the recent re-read, I thought I didn't like it.  Upon re-reading, I discovered I had missed a lot the first time.   Honestly, I'll have to say that I remembered almost nothing except that it was about a group of boys who were stranded on an island and who descend into savagery.  I remembered that there was something about a conch and some pigs, that someone dies, and that the boys were eventually rescued.

But now...now what I know is that the book is a metaphor for how quickly we descend into savagery.  I'm sure we'd all like to think, in our high-tech, highly cultured world, that we are above barbarity.  Look around.  Watch the news.  Violence is our go-to reaction.  My "group" can rest, well-fed, in our warm homes, unmolested, always safe because our race and socio-economic status protect us.  We can believe, because it's easier and more comforting, that savagery is far from us.  The truth is the danger of that descent is all around us, all the time.

We can choose to see only ugliness and division.  We can choose to perpetrate divisiveness.  We can choose to reflect only the negative.  Or we can choose to see and reflect the good, the beauty, the hope, the prospect for redemption.  When did reserving judgment and seeking the truth become passe?  Instead of just praying for peace, work for it.  Be the light, everywhere, all the time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Opposites Attract?

 

"He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would hear.  But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken.  It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage."  from 1984 by George Orwell


My two recently finished books are so totally opposite:  1984 and Gone Girl -- kind of like my seemingly constantly-shifting personalities.  I get frustrated with myself in that I don’t ever seem to know exactly what genre I will wake up in the mood for on any given day.  I guess that’s why I’m always in the middle of multiple books.
Upon re-reading 1984, what I found I remembered about it was only the first part, the happy part.  I had completely blocked the memory of the last part.  I remembered the love and the sex but forgot the torture and the soul-killing loss of true life that ends the book.   That could be an analogy for my own memory choices about my past, but that’s a different blog post.  Anyway, I am glad I re-read the book, which was very well-written, inventive, and forward-thinking, given the time of publication.   It put me in the mood for some more dystopia.  I still haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Maybe that will be up soon.

Gone Girl is harder for me to write about.  So many people loved it.  I liked it.  Ish.  I did.  I just think I should have read it when it came out before all the hype.  Expectations, you know, I don’t do well with them.  I did find it to be entertaining and diverting.   I’m going to leave this one as having been over-hyped by the time I got to it.  I do think I will like the movie.
My current reads are Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which I am loving, and The Divide by Nicholas Evans, which I am liking.  K and I also are still reading The Good Earth aloud, and I'm listening to A Tale of Two Cities in the car.  Audiobooks are a new experience for me, but I'm enjoying it.  I may read the sections after I've listened to them just for clarity.  I read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, but I remember little about it except that I loved it then...lo those many years ago.   This weekend I'm reading Lord of the Flies along with Anna.

Have a great reading Thanksgiving week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mini Reviews and Hibernating for the Winter


Photo by Anna Reavis

    But words are things, and a small drop of ink / Falling like dew upon a thought, produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.  – Lord Byron

If you're looking for me for the next few months, you'll find me as above.  I love winter because it gives me an excuse to spend days doing exactly what I'm doing in the picture...pajamas and all.

After years of avoiding it, I finally read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  Seemingly all the readers I knew had read and loved it and recommended it to me as a story of redemption and hope.  I put off reading it because I knew there would be drama and heartache.  I especially avoided it after I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author because that book was so full of heartache.    While I liked The Kite Runner better than A Thousand Splendid Suns, neither is really my kind of book.   I did find it an important work in that it offered an insight into life in Afghanistan over the past decades of which I was woefully ignorant.  I just don’t like books with that kind of heartache and drama.  I’m more of a fan of understatement.  Also after having read both books, I find them to be a little formulaic.

Recently, Ken and I finished reading Father Melancholy’s Daughter by Gail Godwin.  This was a re-read for me of what I had remembered as being one of my favorite books.  I did enjoy it again but not quite as much as I had expected to.  Partly I think this was because the book really doesn’t lend itself to being read aloud -- too much introspection and deep thinking.  I was thinking our next read aloud would be A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, but last night K suggested The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.  I've been wanting to read it for a long time, so maybe we'll put off the Bryson book for now.

A few weeks ago, upon Ken’s and my father’s recommendation, I read The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West.  I did enjoy the points made in the book but found the plot a little scattered and disjointed.  I found the characters to be likeable and engaging and wonder if the current pope has read the book, as the pope in the novel seems to have been a model for him.

I was reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert but half-way through I became weary of some of the things happening to the main character so have abandoned it for now.  Currently, I'm reading 1984 by Orwell with my daughter for her senior English class and am finally trying Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I originally read 1984 in 1984 when I was a junior in high school.  I am loving it even more now than I did then. 

Happy Winter Reading Everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sound


photo by Anna Reavis
 
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." Aldous Huxley
 
Last night as I was reflecting on some of the advice my therapist had given me yesterday morning, my Pandora station switched to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorite songs.  So I stopped thinking and paused just to listen to the music for a moment.  I’ve been playing (or rather attempting to play) this song on the piano for 30 years, and last night is the first time I’ve ever heard the simple, clear foundation melody in the left hand.  I’ve been too distracted by and focused on the difficult right-hand runs of eighth and sixteenth notes to hear the quietly insistent beauty underneath the ornamentation.  A timely and lovely metaphor for what my therapist was trying to tell me:  Stop assuming.  Stop talking.  Stop running.  Focus.  Listen…There is beauty to be heard.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Meaning of Life?


photo by Anna Reavis
 
"We are not made to love immortal things.  Only what is irreplaceable, unique, and mortal can touch our deepest human sensitivities and be a source of hope and consolation."  Henri Nouwen
 
Reading authors like Henri Nouwen and Frederick Buechner reassure me because they remind me that I am not alone in my questioning, not alone in my doubt.  It has always been hard for me to realize how many thoughtful people of deep faith struggle with the same non-belief I often feel.  We seem to live in a climate of such thoughtless surety.  I recently re-read Turning My Mourning Into Dancing by Nouwen and finished A Room Called Remember by Buechner. This post is going to be some of my thoughts from the Nouwen book.
 
One of the most important issues most of us struggle with is the search for meaning in our lives.  At our low moments I expect a lot of us slide into some form of existential angst where we feel overwhelmed by the absurdity of our existence.  Our society has become so insular, so alienating; we are so closed in on ourselves.  The mindset that leads to such insularity is breaking us.  What if our goal, both personally and as a society, became as Nouwen hopes “[to] live in a world without zealously defended borders”?    Nouwen, along with many others, asserts that love is the meaning of life, that loving each other should be our purpose, that we should strive to be a vessel to carry love to others, to let love flow through us without attempting to hoard and clutch it for ourselves.  To make as our goal learning to love one another without suspicion, insecurity, or manipulation.  Love often means accepting, without impatience or judgment, what we have no ability to understand.  We must allow others to be just that:  other.
How difficult it is, though, to love others purely and truly when we aren’t able to love ourselves, when our own needs clamor for attention at every passing moment.  We need justification, praise, validation, attention, and on and on.  Seems like it should be easy to love and forgive yourself, but I think it is one of the hardest processes we struggle with every day. We try to earn love, forgiveness, salvation…from ourselves and from others.  We can’t accept that these are gifts born not of striving, born simply of grace.  We to try craft our own image from the praise and validation we get from others.  We use people to meet our own needs.  How hard it seems to be to see everyone as worthy of love, patience, and acceptance.  The homed and the homeless, the criminal and the judge, the addict and the priest, are people, flawed and broken, just like I am.  We seem to have no real ability to understand another’s pain and often no real ability to understand or accept our own.  Sometimes helping others becomes a method for manipulation and a way to avoid dealing with our own problems.  We make people into projects, objects for improvement, ignoring or bulldozing their personhood and their pain.  Loneliness and neediness create demand and disappointment and break, rather than heal.  What if we learned to love and accept without attempting to change or influence?  To listen without predicting or assuming.  What if we become conduits for love to pass through, rather than receptacles for its landing?
Our openness to each moment as it happens is probably the most important indicator of our own happiness.  I would like to learn to ignore the compartmentalization and dictates of time and society and learn truly just to be in every moment, even if I am doing no more than sitting on the porch reflecting. I need to learn to be alone, open, honest, vulnerable and to listen for the voice of God, even if it comes back to me as the voice of my one true self.  It will be the voice that tells me to accept, love, and forgive myself without impediment, and to extend to others the same gift.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

photo by Anna Reavis
 
"The sun was up when I awakened and the world was remade and shining.  There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I."  John Steinbeck in Travels With Charley

I decided a long time ago that whoever I chose as a partner needed to be a reader.  Unfortunately, until now, I have never enforced that rule.  I had no idea what I was missing.  Since we started dating, K has read several books from my library, and we have consistently read aloud to each other.  A couple of weeks ago, after perusing my hundreds of titles, he came into the kitchen having chosen two of my favorites to read.  It was like a Magic 8 Ball coming up "All signs point to yes."  But what I have enjoyed the most about his interest in reading is our reading aloud to each other. 

Our first read aloud was Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz.  It's been on my TBR pile forever, and I was so thankful to have an impetus for finally reading it.  Given K's profession (minister) and my own belief ambiguity, I thought it would be a good starting point for our discussions about faith or lack thereof.  It did serve that purpose somewhat, but the book was disjointed and lacking real depth and insight for me.  I did love reading aloud together and being able to discuss ideas and process our thoughts together. 

Our second read was Woodrow's Trumpet by Tim McLaurin.  I had remembered really liking this years ago and thought I remembered its being laugh out loud funny.  Isn't it odd how your expectations affect your experience of something?  We both did enjoy the story, but I didn't find it nearly as funny and entertaining as I had remembered it. 

Next up was Steinbeck's Travels With Charley, which I had read before and loved.  Here my memories were true.  I love Steinbeck's voice and outlook on life.  And what a dream to amble around the country with an old dog.  Travels is different from his novels, but an entertaining read and a nice insight into the mind of one of our greats.

K's love for Africa led me to choose our current read, Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa.  I read Green Hills maybe ten years ago and thought I remembered liking it, so here again my expectations were high. There is so much minute detail in the book about big game hunting that K and I are both having trouble getting through it.   To our pacifist, naturalist sensibilities the descriptions seem almost obscene.  We may have to abandon this one.

Funny thing about expectations...you go into something expecting marvelous and you get mediocre, but sometimes, when you get really lucky, you expect mediocre, and you get marvelous.   Read aloud with someone; it may change your life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sometimes Seeing Isn't Believing

NC Mountains from Elk Knob State Park
 
"Is there no pity sitting in the clouds
 that sees into the bottom of my grief?
 O, sweet my mother, cast me not away!"
 from Romeo and Juliet

What if this picture was a lie?  A complete fabrication?  I happen to know it's not because I took it about a month ago.  But in the world of Wool by Hugh Howey, it would be.  In the world of Wool, nothing like this exists any more...and it is all our fault.  Well, maybe not mine or yours specifically, but ours as a species.  And, as it turns out, the world as we know it disappeared for the most sinister of reasons.

This novel was a reality replacer -- one of those books that you fall into and emerge out of hours, if not days, later.  Once in a while, it's a relief to lose yourself in another place, another time, another world...to forget your own place, your own time, your own world, even if the replacement is not a desirable place to be.  Depending on the replacement world, this kind of forgetting can make you wistful, inspired, thankful, hopeful, and maybe even cautious and aware in ways you haven't been before.  A novel like Wool will make you pause and appreciate the sunset and savor the air you are still able to breathe.  But it will also make you aware of how deeply human we all are and how much we rely on each other for our very survival.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Book Borrower I Be

photo by Anna Reavis

 
This summer I decided to try to read through some or all of the books people have lent me to read over the past few years.  The first of these reads was The Devil's Dream by Lee Smith, which I didn't enjoy as  much as I have her other work.  I think this is partly because it's a history of a country music family, and I don't like country music, but I think it's mostly because I felt no affinity for any of the characters, nor did I find them particularly interesting.  Or maybe it was because I recognized so many of the people I grew up around and didn't particularly like in some of these characters.  I don't like to be reminded of the pervasiveness of ignorance and general tackiness in my culture; I see enough of that as it is. I prefer my reading to be an escape from my life, not a reflection of it.

My next choice was The Paris Wife  by Paula McLain, which is about as far from my life in setting and surroundings as you can get.  I found The Paris Wife immensely readable and breezed through it in a few days.  I enjoyed it until toward the end where the marriage is unraveling and found that to be a little disconcerting to read.  Reading about Hemingway as a fictional character did make me want to re-read The Sun Also Rises and Green Hills of Africa, which are the two Hemingways I have read and possibly also delve into some other of his works.  He's never been one of my favorites, but I feel like I need to give him another chance now that I'm older. I still don't think I would have liked  him personally from what I know of him.






Monday, June 23, 2014

Noah Didn't Need A Compass


photo by Anna Reavis


Often when I finish a book that has truly engaged me, like Kafka on the Shore, I have a good bit of difficulty choosing my next read.  Last week after finishing my first Murakami,  I promptly ordered three more, but as they didn’t arrive for several days, and I wasn’t about to go bookless, I had to do something.  So I trekked down to the library to see what was new (to them) and found a copy of an Anne Tyler book that had been donated by another patron.  Noah’s Compass is a small volume in which nothing much happens, but I enjoyed it just the same.  I’d forgotten how approachable and likeable I find Anne Tyler’s voice.  



In Noah’s Compass, Liam is a 60 year old divorced man who has little contact with his family and who has just lost his job of many years.  After he is attacked in his new down-sized apartment and wakes up from a concussion, he begins to realize how much he has been coasting, out of touch with his own life.  While this was a small book and a quick read, it does touch on what I think is an important issue in our society:  the isolation and alienation born of the dissolution of marriage and family and of our loss of community.  Liam realizes that he, like Noah, hasn’t needed a compass, because neither of them was ever really going anywhere.   At the resolution of the book, though, Liam finds redemption in a way he never anticipated.  I do love a quick read with a happy ending.



And now the conundrum...do I keep reading Anne Tyler, or do I tackle my new Murakamis?  Any recommendations on favorite Anne Tylers?  

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Is There a Kafka? Is There a Shore?


photo by Anna Reavis
 
 
"Memories warm you up from the inside.  But they also tear you apart."
Ms Saeki in Kafka on the Shore

The past, the past...is it ever truly past?  Does time even exist?  How about identity?  Does it exist?  Is identity stable, stationary, immovable? Or are our identities just part of a grand stream of being that temporarily break off and become part of the physical world, only to be reabsorbed and recreated at different times?  Does anything truly exist within the boundaries we understand? Being? Nothingness?

If you don't like pondering questions like these that can make your head hurt, don't read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.  I feel like I would have to read and re-read the book multiple times to grasp some of what it's saying.  Borrowing from one of the themes of the novel, the best way for me to describe it is to say that there is a labyrinth inside each of us and a labyrinth outside each of us, and they are one and the same, and we are lost in them both. And while it took me forever to finish this novel, I enjoyed being tangled up in its web for a time.








Sunday, June 1, 2014

Slices of Life

photo by Anna Reavis
 "Harmon realized by a shift in the girl's expression that this was what she feared--being without love.  Who didn't fear that?"  from Olive Kitteridge by Olive Stout


When I was younger and had more energy and more initiative, I thought maybe one day I would write a novel.  And if I did, I thought it would be set in a physician's waiting room in a small town and would take each person in that room and tell his story and then resolve back in the same waiting room on the same morning in the middle of the week, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of nothing, after having revealed the high drama, beauty and tragedy of each person's life.   Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout follows a similar premise. (Obviously the details are different.)  The novel uses multiple short stories bound together to reveal the truths behind the lives of multiple people, including but not limited to Olive, in a small town in Maine. 


Usually I don't like short stories or novels made up of short stories, but in this case the structure worked very well to provide the "slice of life" revelations of the characters' lives.  I read Olive Kitteridge in January, so it's a little difficult to write about at this far a remove, but I do remember liking it as my favorite book thus far this year and would recommend it without hesitation.  It isn't a long book, but there is a lot of life, love, beauty, sadness, tragedy, and triumph bundled into its small package.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Is the Devil in the Details?

 
photo by Anna Reavis
 

Today I've had reason to consider details and why they matter to some of us.  Personally, I don't care about them at all on a metaphysical, life-changing level, but you let my keys get put where they don't belong, and I'm like a hound on the scent of the ever-elusive rabbit.  I'm a very careful person when it comes to things like keys.  I'd like to think I'm a very careful person when it comes to things like hearts too.  But sometimes, things like hearts give me a hard time.  I try to be considerate, kind, loving, and patient.  I know how to be considerate, kind, loving, and patient.  Does that mean I always am? Nope.  But I am at least aware of these short-comings.  People are hard.  Interpersonal relationships are hard.  Love is hard.  So how do we manage it?

Well... I think we all need to realize that each of us comes from a different place, that each of us speaks out of a personal, past experience that none of the rest of us has had.  On top of that inlay our own personal belief system.  I think dates are stupid; you think dates are important.  You think remembering the details of exactly what is said matters; I think remembering the gist of it is what matters.  And so on.  Here what really matters is that you love other people enough to get beyond these kinds of differences, to understand that the truth of who you are matters more than the details of what has happened to you. 

What I personally believe is that the concepts matter, not the details. I suppose for some people, knowing the details helps in the understanding of the person, but not for me.  For me, it is enough to know if you are my kind of person, and if you are, that's all I need to know.  And what is my kind of person?  Kindness, peace, love, generosity, justice, mercy, humility...these are my nouns.  I don't care where you come from.  What has happened to you does not define you.  What you've done or not done does not define you.  What defines you is who you've become because of it, who you've chosen to become.  And that is what I care about.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Year of Introspection

photo by Anna Reavis

Instead of blogging this year, I've chosen to spend my writing time in my personal journal.  Most of what I've needed to write this year has been too personal to share publicly.  Sometimes I wish we could all have the freedom and the courage to share our deep personal thoughts, like characters do in novels or the long-dead are able to do in posthumously published journals, as I feel certain we could help each other so much in this way, but it's hard for the living to admit to less than perfection, isn't it?  I think maybe that's what's behind all these ridiculous "selfies" and "look how fab my life is" Facebook posts.  My life on Facebook looked fantastic a few years ago, and I was miserable.  My life on Facebook now looks mundane, and I am happy.  Go figure. I worry about the up and coming generation who seem to think their social digital profiles reflect some kind of truth about them personally, who don't seem to know how to be healthy and happy without their online connectivity.  I feel like maybe it's time for a new digital revolution, a revolution wherein we all admit publically that we are screwed up, all of us, but that we are still fabulous.  All of us.

I promise to try to have a book review ready for Sunday.  I've missed you all.