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

Tag: florence scovel shinn

The Game of Life: New Read

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that I’m a little disappointed with The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn. “A little” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings, and of course I’m here to tell you why. I’ll start with the basics, how we got here and what I was thinking going into this book.

the game of life

This book was this month’s read for one of those book clubs I told you I joined recently, and I was excited to read it because I am a big fan of self-help books. Unpopular, I know. We’re all supposed to poo-poo them, but I love them, and I will not hide it. I especially love older ones, the tried and true that are still in print years later. They give me perspective, so many ideas and thoughts about how one can make their own lives a little better. What’s not to love?

When I saw the title, I thought it would be a fun read. I like the idea of looking at life as a game to play. My personal philosophy is similar, and I celebrate my birthday every year as a “level up” day, taking stock of the special skills I have accumulated and the companions I’ve chosen to help me along the way.

When I looked the book up online, I found that it was first published nearly 100 years ago and by a woman. That was intriguing. I wondered how her life must have been so different from mine and what kind of ideas she would have about the game.

The description had me excited to read as well. “First published in 1925, this book has inspired thousands of people around the world to find a sense of purpose and belonging. It asserts that life is not a battle but a game of giving and receiving, and that whatever we send out into the world will eventually be returned to us. This little book will help you discover how your mind and its imaging faculties play leading roles in the game of life.”

Yes, please!

But then I started to read it.

I did assume that the book would have a Christian point of view because of when and where it was written, but I didn’t realize that the whole basis of the book is to use Jesus as a magic wish machine. All you must do is think what you want, speak it to Jesus, and you will have it.

What?

I’m not going to unpack each chapter, but I will say that for me, this idea never really held water, even when I was feeling deeply religious. I’ve read the bible several times through, done many bible studies, and I never found the idea that God grants wishes. The best we could ever do was to pray to be aligned and accepting of God’s path for you. Peace comes from letting go of desires, accepting what is, much like the Buddha’s path of non-resistance.

After the first chapter, I felt like putting the book down and walking away, but then where would I be. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, clearly, and neither can you judge it by the first chapter. It’s only 111 pages long, so it’s not wasting too much time. Besides, I may find pieces that fit into my life, change my thinking, or at least come to understand someone else’s point of view.

So, like Adler said to do in How to Read a Book, I kept reading to understand.

I did find a few gems to hold on to. Things like, “Man has an ever a silent listener at his side – the subconscious mind.”

That’s very true. And how we speak to ourselves in our minds is how we perceive the world around us. Better to keep up the positive talk instead of shooting ourselves down before we even get started. Like reading this book, I can’t sit here grumbling. I have to take deep breath and listen to learn.

“You can control any situation if you first control yourself.”

I’ve found this not to be very helpful. I can’t control any situation, but I can control how I react to it and that makes all the difference.

I learned that the word “acme” means perfection. Acme is always the company the coyote gets his tools and contraptions from to catch the roadrunner. Funny.

“Life is a mirror, and we find only ourselves reflected in our associates.”

This…yes. All my life I’ve been so irritated with the people around me. That driver, that food service person, the post office guy…what the hell, people? But these days I find myself thinking, “Well, maybe there’s something wrong.” “I could have made that same mistake.” And “Everyone has bad days.”

What’s different is how I’ve been learning to treat myself. I’ve been talking to myself in new ways, learning to forgive mistakes and not have to be perfect, to allow myself to feel loved just the way I am. It’s made all the difference.

And then there was, “The robbers of time are the past and the future.”

Oh, wow. We know that! Right? Sitting here lamenting our past mistakes. Nothing we can really do now but move forward and do better. And spending all night worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Wastes the time we could be getting a good night’s rest so that we’re at our best no matter what happens.

See? I did find some little tidbits even though I felt repulsed at first. That’s what happens when you listen to people you don’t agree with, even fundamentally. We find common ground and move forward on it instead of staying at a stand-still.

No, I don’t believe that Jesus will put money in your bank account if you believe hard enough. But we can relax and know that things generally do work out eventually. Less attachment to outcomes, more acceptance of what is, does make life nicer.

No, mothers can’t attract illness to their children with worry. But mothers can make themselves sick with worry and cause their children to be nervous and timid because their protector seems so helpless.

There were more crazy things, like “death can be overcome by stamping the unconscious mind with the conviction of eternal youth and eternal life.”

And more great ideas, like “Real love is selfless and free from fear. It pours itself out upon the object of its affection, without demanding any return.”

Now my question is, what will the book club think about this book? Will they be in love with it? Are they going to be a group full of that kind of Christian? That’s me, worrying about the future, wasting time. Does it matter? Nope. I’ll go and enjoy whatever experience is presented to me because that’s what the game of life is all about.

Something Crazy, Hold on to Your Potatoes

My dear, dear reader, I have done something crazy. You may want to sit down while you read this. Oh, wait, most people ARE sitting down while they read. At least, I hope they are. Maybe you’re one of those, “I’ll read on my phone while I walk” people. What? Why?! Explain yourself!

Never mind that. Here comes the news.

I have joined an in-person book club.

I know! I warned you it would be crazy!

And guess what? It’s local, like right here in my own town kind of local. And I’m going. I have the book and I’m reading it, now all I have to do is summon (that world does not look right at all) up all the courage I have and actually get in my truck, drive over there, walk in the door, and introduce myself.

“All I have to do…” Ug…my heart races and I feel sick just writing that. But I’m going to do it!

There are lots of reasons not to join a book club. First of all, there are people there. And second, they may be reading books that mean absolutely nothing to me. And then…did I mention people?

But, you guys, I need to get out and meet new people. I’ve gotten out of practice and THAT’S why it seems so complicated. What better way than at a book club? Nothing can go wrong, not really. And I’m not bound to keep going for any reason. The worst can only be showing up and feeling a bit awkward for an hour or so. I can handle this. I’ve been awkward all my life!

Just writing that made me think of something I could use to get through this first encounter with new people. During my meditation practice, I’ve been learning to simply BE in my feelings, allow them to hang out even if they are ugly, and not react to them. What if I did that at the meeting?

Instead of working myself up these next few weeks, worrying about who they might be, what they might say, or whether or not I’ll make a fool out of myself, I’ll just read the book. And that day, when I’m supposed to be getting my stuff together and driving over there, I’ll simply do that.

I’ll be nervous about getting there on time and not getting lost. I’ll feel sick about it and not be able to eat dinner before I go. But that’s ok. That’s only ancient instincts reminding me that new people, new situations, may be dangerous. This is not dangerous, so I’ll calm myself by taking deep breaths and giving myself a hug, maybe bring a nice, iced lemonade with a shot of tequila hidden in it.

Want to know what my other biggest fear is? My mouth running out of control.

When I’m nervous, I fill any pause with incessant chatter, and sometimes it’s not pleasant. It’s like I’m two people, the person making noise and the person in my head saying, “Shut up! Oh, my…why must you open your mouth?! Wow, that’s just great. They are never going to invite you again.” Which only makes me more nervous and then more talkative.

I’m wondering how I can solve this problem. How do I find a way to be ok with some pauses in the conversation? How do I relax and think, instead of filling up space with anything that comes to mind? I really don’t know. Tequila probably doesn’t help.

Wait…there’s more to this book club thing. You’re going to laugh.

I’ve joined two of them. Yep. I heard that Meet-Up was a good place to find groups, so I joined it…again (I have run away from it before) and started looking around. I found several that meet online, but virtual people will not help me get back into the swing of making friends, so I kept looking.

something crazy
I have a new book journal too!

One that I settled on is local, like right here in River City kind of local. And the books they’ve read over the past year are ones that I would read. One book is actually sitting on my TBR shelf! The book I’m reading for that group is God’s Hotel: A doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine by Victoria Sweet.

The other group is a little more outside my comfort zone. It’s a little farther away and it’s only for women. You know how I feel about women, right? That’s a whole other story. A sad one. A “Why do I not fit in!” kind of story. But it’s time to face my fears and get out there. Besides, they are reading an awesome little book called The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn, a self-help book written by a woman and published in 1925. If a self-help book is still in print 100 years later, it has to mean something.

The best part, the part that says these women might be fun? They’re meeting at The Yard for drinks while we chat about the book. Drinks AND books? Yes, please!

The book club reads mean that I’ve had to put aside How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler to read other books. How funny is that?! I haven’t completely abandoned it. That would be so cruel. I’m reading it for about a half an hour in the morning each day, like an appetizer. The first chapters have been depressing, talking about changes in the education system and how it had been affecting college students and university professors.

It was written in 1940, so we can see where those changes have gotten us, but then again everything changes and it’s not the end of the world. Reading The Opening of the American Mind by Lawrence W. Levine softened my stance quite a bit. But that was written in the 90’s in response to the same changes that Adler is complaining about, so things have kept changing for sure and we all see the negative effects that Adler was worrying about.

I’m hoping he gets to the part that tells me how to read better soon. I love to read, but I find myself forgetting most of it and I’d love to be able to connect the dots between books more often, which is why I picked up the book in the first place.

And here I am, over one thousand words later, on a day in a month that I said I wouldn’t post. It looks like over the last four months I’ve created a habit that I don’t want to break. I think what I’ll do this month is keep it up, but instead of making sure I write and post every single day just to get that dopamine hit when I see this:

I’ll not make myself (more) nuts trying to create and post on days when I need to be out of the house at 7am.

So, you WILL hear from me in May after all! Aren’t you excited?! I am. I like sharing my thoughts here, what I’m reading and thinking, what I’m seeing and experiencing. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: