Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: autobiography

I. Asimov: New Read

I. Asimov: A Memoir was an impulse buy! I think I was searching Amazon for something else and saw the memoir recommended…wait…I remember! I had bought Will Smith’s autobiography the day before and when I opened my browser, Amazon was kind enough to recommend Asimov’s. Since I’m a huge fan of that man as well, and I’m totally in the mood for more memoir, I clicked BUY NOW and walked away.

I. Asimov

A couple days later, there it was in my mailbox. That’s the glory of buying one book at a time on Amazon, they usually fit in my mailbox and I don’t have to drive to the post office and pick it up. This time, I was allowed to experience that beautiful feeling when I open the box and there it is, in a bag, all scrunched up with my mail from the last few days!

As soon as I got back in the car, I threw all the junk mail and bills to the passenger seat and held my precious in my lap. It was heavy but small. I pulled open the bag just to get a moment with it before I drove off to the grocery store. It’s a fat one! I took a picture of it immediately and sent it a friend I knew would appreciate my joy.

I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s so proud of himself and you’d think he’d come off as an ass, but he doesn’t. After every chapter, I only wish I could have hung out and had a cup of coffee with the guy.

Here are a few quotes from my reading this morning. Yeah…I can’t put it down. Damn these responsibilities getting in the way of my reading!

“At last I met people who burned with the same fire I did; who loved science fiction as I did; who wanted to write science fiction as I did; who had the same kind of erratic brilliance as I did.
I did not have to recognize a soul mate consciously. I felt it at once without the necessity of intellectualizing it.”

This one reminded me of my dad describing how much he loved his theatre people in high school. Meeting people that share your passion for something, or (in my case) at least share your enthusiasm for life in general…there’s nothing like it. I think it’s what the Founding Father’s meant by “the pursuit of happiness,” but that could also mean all the books you ever want.

“Writing was exciting because I never planned ahead. I made up my stories as I went along and it was a great deal like reading a book I hadn’t written.

When asked for advice by beginners, I always stress that. Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.”

This! I read this in A Roving Mind last year and it confirmed, once again, that I was doing nothing wrong. 99% of my posts, fiction and non-fiction are cleaned up first drafts. Even in high school and college, once I wrote it down, it was done, other than cleaning up errors and fixing a few things. That doesn’t mean they are all winners, perfect right out of the box. It just means that it’s exactly what I wanted to say.

I’ve always been overly honest. I’m not one to hide behind my words. I say what I mean, I mean what I say. And it all comes tumbling out of my head and onto the page, the same way I speak. It’s me. The more I do it, the better, more organized, it gets. So…you, my dear reader, get the brunt of it thanks to the glory of the internet.

“It always seems to me that it’s not hard to be nice to people in small ways, and surely that must make them more willing to be nice in small ways in return.”

How’s that for an idea to start your day with? If you’re wondering what you can do to make a difference in the world, try a small kindness. Give a couple bucks to that guy. Smile and say thank you, make eye contact with the cashier. Compliment your waiter on how well he’s doing, even if he’s not THAT great. Those small things ripple outward like waves that create bigger waves. Weave some bright threads into the tapestry of our lives. Be nice today. Make someone smile, laugh, or feel a little bit better about themselves.

I’ve read quite a few Asimov books in my life, but I’ve only posted about him a few times recently. Check out A Roving Mind and The Gods Themselves.

Dean and Me by Jerry Lewis

“Asatru,” that book I started reading yesterday, was a quick read. It only took me a little over two hours to read, so when I finished it at 5am this morning, I needed something else quick. I can’t start my day THAT early!

I got another cup of coffee and looked over my TBR shelf. “Dean & Me: A Love Story” by Jerry Lewis and James Kaplan has been looking back at me for a few days now, so I decided to heed the call.

dean and me

Believe it or not, I’m not a Jerry Lewis fan. The guy…I don’t know. I just never thought he was that funny. Slap stick isn’t my thing and the whole Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis thing was way before my time. All I remember about Dean Martin is the cool singing persona. I have a vague notion about some kind of break up between them, but nothing solid. So why did I pick up the book in the first place?

When I wrote about reading The Best American Short Stories – 2014 back in September last year, I mentioned browsing a used book store and picking up several new books and some ice cream. Like I’ve said before, the shelves I gravitate toward in used bookstores are the classics, histories, and memoirs. I don’t have to know anything about someone to read their autobiography or memoir. Everyone’s life has a story to tell, or a lesson to learn. Besides, I find them encouraging when I try writing my own life stories.

The cold returned this morning. California desert cold, nothing compared to you snow bound folks, but still…35 degrees and 30mph winds aren’t fun, even when the sky is clear and the ground is dry. As the sun came up and the air did not warm, I decide to snuggle down and keep reading with another cup of coffee this morning.

After about one hundred pages, I decided I really needed to eat some breakfast. That’s when I set my phone up and watched videos of these two characters for over an hour. It wasn’t time wasted. It was research! They really were funny back then.

Wind Sand and Stars: Adventure Story

“Wind, Sand, and Stars” made me feel like I’d been there, flying over the deserts of the Middle East and Africa. Reading memoir connects me with lives that have never before even shown up on my radar!

wind sand and stars
“Wind, Sand and Stars” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

This book…wow…the imagery he brings up through his words is amazing. Every page is filled with beauty. And it’s a true story. I have never given much of a thought about Africa or the Middle East before our own time, much less about how mail would get across the desert in those areas! And now, well, I’m enchanted. A technology was invented that changed the world, airplanes. Suddenly, there was a way to communicate with people across vast distances in a fraction of the time it used to take. And there were people that were unhappy about it. Imagine that!

He describes amazing scenes and adventures, some that didn’t end well, with an insight to human nature that we can all use a dose of today. Imagine the risk of flying those old airplanes across the desert just to get a letter or other document to a relative or business partner? Makes posting to social media seem like child’s play, but imagine the impact it can have compared to that one letter!

I never even knew “Wind Sand and Stars” existed until I heard another author mention it as his favorite book as a child, one he has read over and over again. Ahh…that…reading one book over and over. I’ve never done it. I sometimes wonder if, in my quest for more information, more story, I miss the deeper meaning and joy of really knowing one small piece of the world. I probably do.

Sometimes I feel like a collector. At the moment, I’m collecting books like there’s no tomorrow. What if there isn’t? What if the time comes when I can buy no more for some reason or another, and all I have is what I’ve already collected? That will be the time to start re-reading!


 “Numerous, nevertheless, are the moralists who have attacked the machine as the source of all the ills we bear, who, creating a fictitious dichotomy, have denounced the mechanical civilization as the enemy of the spiritual civilization.”

Funny to think a book written in 1939 would have the same complaints we have today. When I hear people complain that the technology we have today is the end of the civilization, I wonder if they’ve ever read anything older than 20 years.


“What are the hundred years of the history of the machine compared with the two hundred thousand years of the history of man? It was only yesterday that we began to pitch our camp in this country of laboratories and power stations, that we took possession of this new, this still unfinished, house we live in. Everything around us is new and different – our concerns, our working habits, our relations with one another.

“Our very psychology has been shaken to its foundations, to its most secret recesses. Our notions of separation, absence, distance, return, are reflections of a new set of realities, though the words themselves remain unchanged. To grasp the meaning of the world today we use a language created to express the world of yesterday.”

How’s that? How much more has changed in 100 years, more than any other century of the past? We’ve created a technology that will change everything yet again. Yes, things seem insane and upside down. It will be ugly for awhile. Evolution isn’t pretty and it doesn’t always end well. But it’s happening and the only way to deal with it is to ride the wave and see where it goes.


“Every doctrine swears that it can breed men, but none can tell us in advance what sort of men it will breed. Men are not cattle to be fattened for market.”

That’s what I think schools are doing, fattening cattle for market. In the past we could know what the market will be one from one generation to the next. We’d need farmers, businessmen, explorers, etc. There were jobs we needed to fill that were predictable. And to do those jobs there was a set amount of information, education that each would need. Life has changed so much that that has become increasingly untrue. I think it started just before the author’s time and has steadily increased in the number of changes until now and beyond. We’re better off teaching our children basic skills like communication and how to stay flexible and alert, than a set of rules and dictations as we have in the past. Right now, anything can happen and we need to be ready to move one way or another. Those that can’t, won’t survive.


And this sweet reminder to write!

“Let a man in a garret but burn with enough intensity and he will set fire to the world.”


“For man’s greatness does not reside merely in the destiny of the species: each individual is an empire.” I don’t think we respect the individual as much as we should. We tend to act like hive mates and treat the hive as supreme. It’s limiting. Each of us holds a world in our heads and hearts. Each of us has something to add to the world, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, brilliant or dull. “Interdependent” that’s the word I love. We are each our own sovereign world, capable of taking care of ourselves, but when we work together we become so much more. It’s the same with people as it is when nations and cultures. If we could only see that and stop trying to force each other to bend to each other’s will.

“Each shell that fell upon Madrid fortified something in the town. It persuaded the hesitant neutral to plump for the defenders. A dead child weighs heavily in the balance when it is one’s own. It was clear to me that a bombardment did not disperse – it unified. Horror causes men to clench their fists, and in horror men join together.”

How, after all these years of war, can we not see this today? Do we really think we are doing any good in the world when we commit violence against another?


And the last…

“To come to man’s estate it is not necessary to get oneself killed round Madrid, or to fly mail planes, or to struggle wearily in the snows out of respect for the dignity of life. The man who can see the miraculous in a poem, who can take joy from music, who can break his bread with comrades, opens his window to the same refreshing sea. He too learns a language of men.

But too many men are left unawakened.”

It can be easy to read true stories of adventure and start to think that the only way to really live is be out there living through disasters, that they only way to learn to live through struggle is to struggle yourself, that the only way to respect life is by losing parts of it, but that’s not true. Humans have an amazing ability to communicate over generations. It’s what sets us apart from any other animal. It’s what I believe is the “image of God” in us. We communicate through all types of medium, the written word, music, paint, and technology. Open yourself up to it. Read, experience, and create. Wake up to the world around you!

Years after reading, “Wind Sand and Stars,” I finally got the chance to read “The Little Prince.” Click over and read about that experience!

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